One of the characteristics defining that our Gen Z friends is their 8-second attention span. Does that mean that they only have the capacity to pay attention to or think about something for a grand total of 8 seconds? Not at all. Rather, these 8 seconds come from an incredibly fast-paced culture with an “I need it now” attitude about everything. That, or they just have quite the incredible obsession with professional bull riding. Either way, 8-second attention span.
A second defining quality of Gen Z is their desire to make a difference in the world. This is my personal favorite of all the characteristics. I mean, how cool is that? As a generation, they desire to change the world. I’m getting chills.
So why are we talking about the 8-second attention span and the desire to change the world at the same time? I’m glad you asked!
As believers, God has invited us to be his vessels through which he changes the world. His saving gospel message moves forward through us. We can go directly to him and ask him to move in a certain situation. And the cool part is, he listens to us.
For those of us who are tasked with discipling the coming generation, we get to tell them how they can actually change the world. The answer: prayer.
John 14:12-14, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
These are some of the most powerful, life-altering words in Scripture when it comes to our role in God’s work on earth. He desires to change the world through us. He has given his very presence to be with us in the Holy Spirit and equipped us with the gift of prayer.
God hears our prayers and acts. Jesus said that he is listening and he will answer. When it comes to how prayer impacts God’s actions, you should definitely check out this Gospel Coalition blog post.
Now back to the 8-second thing. It is possible that your role as a disciple-maker will be to lead your people in learning the discipline of prayer. The act of prayer is like a muscle; it needs some exercise! The more we prayer the more natural and normal it begins to feel. In a sense, it gets easier. Try taking your people through a prayer workout routine. You can adjust this based on where your people are in their spiritual walks. It could look something like this:
Monday: Pray for your family members for 30 seconds.
Tuesday: Ask the Lord to heal someone who might be sick or injured for 1 minute.
Wednesday: Pray for God to teach your small group members more about himself for 1 minute and 20 seconds.
Thursday: Pray for your school for 1 minute and 45 seconds.
Friday: Pray for God to save the lost in __________ for 2 minutes.
Saturday: Pray for your pastor as he prepares to preach on Sunday for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
Sunday: Pray together as a group that God would grow your desire for prayer for 3 minutes.
This format can be adjusted in any way that works for you. This is simply a guide to lead your people to increase their time spent in prayer. Is there a certain amount of time that we are required to spend in prayer? No. But as Paul puts it, we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). There are times in life, issues, and needs that require more than 8 seconds of dedicated prayer.
Your role in teaching them to pray equips them to change the world as they seek the Lord in prayer. An 8-second attention span is not a limitation. Rather, it is a clear directive of an area to focus on in discipleship. Who knows, God might just use your people to change the entire world for his glory. - Becca