1. Provost, Katharine

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When I talk about NCF Student Ministries, I often am met with concern as people compare the college campus of today with what they experienced. Although many things are the same, American culture now includes a deep level of hopelessness and anxiety. I work with student leaders creating groups for Gen Z (referring to people born between 1997-2012, Morning Consult, 2019) and have two daughters who are of this unique generation. I believe God has uniquely prepared this generation to be world-changers for his glory.

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At first glance, Gen Zers may appear to prefer their phones to human interaction-but look deeper. This is the first generation born never knowing a world without cell phones, so it fits that relationships through technology are common.


Gen Z individuals overwhelmingly distrust institutions. They are "highly skeptical that people in power act responsibly and that important institutions are worthy of trust" (Morning Consult, 2019, p. 14). Looking at institutions over the past 20 years (Gen Z's entire lives), many have displayed controversy and unethical activity. How can NCF reach someone who does not trust organizations? It's about relationship!



Gen Zers are the nursing students you engage with in their clinicals and the new nurses you will be working alongside. You are NCF to them. When interacting with a Gen Z, you have an opportunity to grow a relationship of trust.


Maybe Gen Zers have lessons to teach us about relationships that honor Jesus. He modeled trusting relationships when he stopped and listened to what people needed. People were drawn to him because he cared enough to know them as individuals. Love is less what we talk about and more what we do; this is especially important when trying to build trust with someone you do not understand. The apostle John advises, "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth" (1 John 3:18, NIV). Youth minister Andy Jung (2021) suggests, "The practice of listening requires us to ask curious questions. Questions should be careful, gentle, and open-ended. They should communicate a true desire to learn more about the person and [his/her] hopes for the future" (section 2, para 2).



We are called not to let our differences be an impediment to relationship, but rather to be a bridge. After listening to build trust, can you find a common thread? We see Jesus find a common thread in John 4 when he sat with the Samaritan woman with whom he appeared to have nothing in common. Their common thread? Water. They both were thirsty, although for different things. Jesus listened, drew out her story, and helped her see they had more in common than she realized. She got it and shared the Messiah with her community!



Building relationships is not about popularity or accumulating friends; it is about living the Gospel to those who are craving the peace, truth, and salvation that Jesus offers. Although Gen Zers have the knowledge of the world at their fingertips, the world cannot offer them the hope and solid foundation of Jesus. If they can trust you, they will learn how they, too, need living water.


Whether in your community, on campus, at work, or in church, relationships matter. You'll grow in your relationship with Jesus as you remember, "Young people are not projects. Our goal isn't to fix them.... to save them... to advise or set them straight... Our goal is to show them how much we care for them" (Jung, 2021, section 3, para 1). If you can make a difference for one world-changer, you can change the world.


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Jung A. (2021). How can your church listen across generations? Fuller Youth Institute.[Context Link]


Morning Consult. (2019). Understanding Gen Z.[Context Link]