Colored lights cut through a dark sanctuary, blazing across rows of worshipers with lifted hands. A layer of fog drifts across the stage as guitars sound. The pastor gives a riveting message, with stories to keep even the drowsiest congregant awake and chuckling. Following the service, the media team posts an Instagram reel summarizing the key points of the sermon. This is entertainment at its finest.
And yet, somehow, Gen Z isn’t impressed.
According to a poll by the Christian Post, only 28 percent of American Gen Zers say they’re committed to attending religious services once a month. What’s more, only 4 percent of Gen Zers hold to a biblical worldview. This is a tragedy—one that all our modern methods of drawing a crowd can’t seem to remedy.
It seems like the seeker-sensitive approach to evangelism should work for Gen Z. Never has a generation been more invested in entertainment. Yet perhaps the constant current of entertainment that Gen Z lives beneath has left them waterlogged, even drowning. My generation is gasping for something real.
The Gospel with Flesh On
The Sunday I became a member at my college church, an older couple invited me and three friends to their home. Our hosts, Jill and Paul, set four extra places around their dining room table, which was laden with warm food and fragrant masala spice. Sipping tea made with leaves from Kenya—where this couple had served as missionaries for 17 years—we spent hours drinking in all the wisdom, and warm chai, we could.
Perhaps the constant current of entertainment that Gen Z lives beneath has left them waterlogged, even drowning. My generation is gasping for something real.
It was as if the gospel took on flesh around the table of these new friends. They did more than just tell us about the Lord’s goodness. They invited us to taste it and see it (Ps. 34:8). Each time we left their table, we were filled up and ready to overflow with gospel urgency and joy.
When I reflect on this memory, my heart soars with thankfulness for the grace of hospitality while simultaneously breaking for every member of my generation who doesn’t know the church beyond the realm of performance. What will become of those who never make it to the dining room table? I fear that the gospel won’t become real to them. Unless the gospel puts on flesh, it can’t transform a generation.
Dear Christian, Gen Z desperately needs your hospitality. I believe it’s the evangelistic approach my generation needs most.
When Jill and Paul invited us into their home, they didn’t entertain us. Instead, they welcomed us into their real lives. The truth is, it’s infinitely sweeter to be known than to be entertained. If perfect performance is the goal, we can’t truly know one another.
What if we reimagined hospitality? What if it wasn’t about creating the perfect environment for entertaining but about making our homes purposeful for the kingdom? What if, instead of hiding from a broken world, we invited the broken in? This is how we make the gospel real to the loneliest generation on earth. It’s not an overstatement to suggest that Christians opening their homes and inviting young people into their lives could transform a generation. We have a God who sets the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6). All we need to do is make room.
Model Christ’s Heart
Practicing hospitality gives us beautiful opportunities to model Christ’s heart toward the lost and lonely.
We have a Savior who demonstrated the grace of hospitality during his time on earth. Jesus could have remained aloof from broken humanity, but he didn’t. He put on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14), reclining at the table with sinners (Matt. 9:10) and inviting little children into his arms (19:14). It’s this Savior who says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (11:28), who gently promises, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).
Jesus doesn’t wait for us to come to him. Instead, he pursues us. He’s forever the gentle Shepherd, leaving the 99 sheep to go after the one (Matt. 18:12–14). Oh, for Gen Z to know this Shepherd who moves beyond screens and social media to draw the lonely into his fold.
It’s the privilege of the church to model the heart of the Shepherd by drawing the broken into homes and seating them around dining room tables. If we’re going to see young people transformed, we can’t keep them at arm’s length. We must demonstrate the pursuing heart of Christ by choosing to dwell with them instead.
Tell the Old, Old Story
As the church dwells with lost Gen Zers, I pray that we “cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). I pray that the gospel rests always on our lips, ready to overflow into dinner conversations. Hospitality is meant to beautifully adorn the gospel, but we cannot adorn a gospel Gen Z doesn’t know. “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14).
We have a God who sets the lonely in families. All we need to do is make room.
So let’s tell Gen Z the story of Jesus, our sweet pursuing Savior. We don’t need another flashy evangelistic sales pitch that fits perfectly in an Instagram reel. We need more Jills and Pauls—faithful saints willing to live out the gospel in word and deed.
This is my plea to the church: Lay another place at your tables, fill them with food, and allow your love and generosity to adorn the gospel. And then tell the old, old story, beckoning my broken generation to taste and see that the Lord is good.