As Christians, we are called to make disciples of all nations. I believe that most of us are aware of this calling yet struggle to truly apply it in our daily lives. Mentoring Generation Z students can seem like a difficult and overwhelming task because they may have different interests and ways of communicating than you and I do. Yet, this can also be a great opportunity to demonstrate a mission-minded lifestyle, specifically in regards to volunteering.
When I was in high school, volunteering was a big deal, but not as much as the statistics show it is now! These stats for Generation Z say, “77% of Gen Z’s are either extremely or very interested in volunteering to gain work experience.” This statement both surprised and encouraged me. We often talk about how the next generation is so self-absorbed with “i-this” and “i-that”. Although that might be true in some cases, there is also a greater sense of belonging and desire to impact the world around them in tremendous ways! They are looking for ways to gain experience and be part of the world. They are more aware than ever of social injustice and willing to fight for their beliefs. So let’s cultivate this desire, passion, and interest when discipling students!
I believe that discipleship is about inviting people into life with Jesus. Too often when we think of the words “discipleship” or “mentoring” we think of sitting across the table from 1-3 people, Bibles open, cute journals at hand, and some fancy coffee close by. Discipleship can look like this, but this isn’t the only way to disciple someone. Think about it, how often did Jesus sit across the table from others and just talk to or teach them? He did instruct in this way, yes, but that wasn’t His only (or primary) means of communication and influence. The majority of the time when Jesus taught, it was when He was out and about with the crowds and His disciples. He used those daily life moments and conversations to teach by living missionally in recognition that He held the words of true life.
Looking at the way Jesus invited his first followers into discipleship with Him, we notice the famous phrase, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) This invitation by Jesus is an example to us of how important it is to do life with others. It is an invitation to do the things He does and be about what He is about. Jesus led out by living in a way that demonstrates how we also can make disciples by inviting others in.
So what does this have to do with volunteering? Well, if students are looking for opportunities to serve and volunteer, then why don’t we invite them into those places where we are serving already! What a simple way to invite those you mentor into life by spending time serving alongside them and having gospel conversations while doing so!
Now, you might be saying, “But I don’t volunteer anywhere, so how can I invite my girls into discipleship and missional living by volunteering?” Great question! First off, you probably are volunteering your time just to be with these girls, so communicate that to them in a way that encourages them to find other girls to invest into. Encourage them to seek out places to volunteer, as you are leading by example and volunteering your time to be with them. Ask them to bring ideas back to your group and find a place to serve together! What a neat opportunity for a student to find something they are passionate about and then serve in that organization with a mentor like yourself!
Or, you can just start serving somewhere! That might be in the local school district, at your church in the children’s department, at a soup kitchen, or another non-profit close by. Start looking for times and spaces you can volunteer, and organizations that you are passionate about. Then invite others (like those you mentor) into that space with you!
As you serve with those you mentor, seek to have gospel conversations and encourage them to speak words of life to those they are serving. Use the time you have in the car driving to the church or organization to talk about what God is teaching you and pray for the time and people you are about to serve. Encourage your students to ask those they encounter about their lives and how they can pray for them. Challenge your students to share a memory verse with someone new they meet. Debrief after serving and ask them about the people they met and what God taught them. Ask them about how their view and understanding of who God is might have changed after serving today.
Knowing that Jesus used daily life moments and conversations to teach missional living, how can we join Him in His mission for all generations, including this one? - Morgan
Hello Friends! My name is Morgan Marshall, and I work at The Village Church. I love working with Middle School students (and my High School Young Life girls in this picture!) and seeing them grow in their understanding and love for our great God! I love black coffee, hiking mountains, cinnamon rolls, reading, and some good quality time with friends. I am excited to continue seeing the Lord work and move in our world, and desperately want to see the next generation changed because of Jesus.