Gen Z and Global Priorities

Thankfully, the comprehensive nature of the gospel is more than salvation—as if salvation were not sufficient. Yet, the wholeness of the gospel encompasses redemption, restoration, and freedom from injustice. Recently, it has been identified that Gen Z views ending racism (83%), climate change (79%), social equality (78%), and alleviating poverty (78%) as more important than evangelistic mission.[1]

While many evangelicals may have their feathers ruffled with such a thought, I think it’s important to understand that the passions of Gen Z are biblically aligned. I believe they provide a powerful connection to the mission of God and the inherent principles of the gospel (dignity, love, and value).  

In the Bible, Moses describes mankind as being created in “the image and likeness of God” (Gen. 1:26). While Genesis 1:26 is one of the first theological confessions, it is also a profound statement that highlights the inherent value and dignity of all people. Genesis 1:26 establishes the essence and substance for understanding human identity, purpose, and even potential.

The Divine Image and Likeness

Being created in “the image and likeness of God” (Gen. 1:26) means that every human being possesses intrinsic worth and deserves respect, love, and dignity. The divine imprint that we possess transcends race, gender, age, or any other characteristic that may divide us. It seems that Gen Z is merely implementing “word and deed” measures (1 Jn. 3:18). They recognize this truth challenges us to see the immeasurable worth within every person and people group. It compels us to work towards justice and equality for all. Consequently, they do not view a distinction or divorce between gospel-living and justice—it’s unified.

The Comprehensive Nature of the Gospel

The gospel message goes far beyond personal and corporate salvation. Yes, salvation encompasses redemption, but also restoration, and freedom from injustice. When Jesus begins his earthly ministry, he cites Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

However, according to Matthew (an eyewitness), when John the Baptist was cast into prison, he sent his messengers to specifically ask Jesus if he was the fulfillment of Isaiah 61. Jesus responded, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (Matt. 11:4-5). The incarnate Word brought restoration and freedom to those he encountered (including the condemned adulterous woman).

Absolutely, not, downplaying any aspect of salvation, through Christ’s sacrificial act on the cross, humanity is offered the opportunity to be redeemed from sin and reconciled with God. However, the gospel does not end there. It also calls us to participate in the restoration of all things, working towards the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth.

Top Priorities

Succeeding the Millennial generation, Gen Z is the first to be raised in an entirely digital age, generally—they were born between the mid 1990’s to the 2010’s. For the most part, even though cultural background, socioeconomic status, and individual experiences can vary, Gen Z is a cohort of youth that are passionate about authenticity and having unique political and social perspectives.

In observing their list of concerns, it illustrates their value of people. They desire to see an ending to racism, be good stewards of the planet, promote equality, and alleviate poverty. These priorities are deeply rooted in the gospel’s call for justice, compassion, and love for our neighbors. As Gen Z recognizes God’s divine imprint upon every person, they are driven to confront the systems and structures that perpetuate suffering. Their desire is an all-encompassing faith of “word and deed.”

Word and Deed

Thus, living out a “word and deed” life incorporates elements of gospel-evangelism, social justice, and compassion. It involves sharing the good news of Christ’s redemptive work through our words and proclaiming the message of salvation. Additionally, it entails actively engaging in alleviating poverty, addressing the needs of the marginalized, and advocating for justice. It means extending love and hospitality to strangers, embodying Christ’s teachings of inclusivity and value. Above all, “word and deed” living recognizes the inherent dignity of every person, reflecting God’s image in our interactions, actions, and efforts to uplift and empower others.

Summary

The comprehensive nature of the gospel goes beyond personal salvation, encompassing redemption, restoration, and freedom from injustice. Gen Z’s prioritization of ending racism, reducing climate change, social equality, and alleviating poverty aligns with the biblical principles of dignity, love, and value.

Genesis 1:26 establishes the inherent worth and dignity of all people as being created in the image and likeness of God, transcending divisions such as race or gender. Gen Z’s pursuit of justice and equality reflects the recognition of immeasurable worth within every individual and compels us to work towards a more just society.

Living out a “word and deed” life involves gospel-evangelism, social justice, and compassion. It means sharing the message of salvation while actively engaging in addressing poverty, advocating for the marginalized, and promoting inclusivity. Such an approach recognizes the inherent dignity of every person, reflecting God’s image through our actions and efforts to uplift others.


[1] “Gen Z and Gen Alpha Infographic Update,”https://mccrindle.com.au/article/topic/generation-z/gen-z-and-gen-alpha-infographic-update/

How Church Planting Pregnant Creates a Movement

The term “planting pregnant” may sound a little weird, but the premise is solid. It’s starting a new church while, at the same time, training potential church planters within your starting church team to plant. 

Hence, the beginning church expects to birth another church—soon.

If the main goal of church planting is to gather and develop reproducible disciple-makers for the mission of God, then a key factor is the aspect of reproducibility. 

Many times, I hear church planters with grandiose visions and mission statements. Yet, rarely do I hear of planters that desire to infuse a reproducible DNA from the beginning. 

When I read the descriptions in the book of Acts of Paul’s church planting journeys, I tend to see him working with teams (Acts 13:1, 13; 14:21–28; 20:4). Seldomly do I read of Paul working as a Lone Ranger or “parachuting” (Acts 17:16–21). I also understand that the book of Acts is descriptive and not prescriptive—however—I can glean some good applicational insight.

A few months ago, the Lord laid a burden on my heart to start a church planting movement in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. However, the Lord has also blessed me with a great many supporters and partners to help facilitate this movement.

One of the ways that Story Church will be planting pregnant is to start with the intentional ethos of reproducibility. This means that I will plant with guys that are apprenticing to plant and will eventually start a new church within the next few years—not a campus church—but an autonomous body of reproducible disciple-makers. These men will be able to watch, learn, and live out what it looks like and what it takes to plant a church. 

While I am chronologically recording every move I make, I realize that every plant is unique and must be adaptable to culture. However, the principles and procedures for initial start-up, systems placement, and community exegesis will be eerily similar. 

There is no cookie cutter approach to church planting, but by beginning to plant with the “pregnant” mindset and groundwork, the DNA of the mother church plant takes on an identity of reproducibility. And what that means is Story Church is not about building an empire but launching a multiplicative gospel movement. 

For me, church planting pregnant is vital. However, I can plant pregnant because this is not my first time around and because I have put the time in to watch, learn, train, and be a part of other plant/planters. So, as I am planting Story Church, I will be apprenticing other potential planting candidates.

I realize that planting pregnant may not be the norm and I praise God for any and every church planter, but it is a means to birthing a gospel movement. 

Please pray for Story Church. If you’d like to partner with us, feel free to connect with me matt@storychurch.live or become a monthly supporter at www.storychurch.live

The Apostle Paul and the Military

It’s no secret that my desire is to reach, equip, and care for service men and women, their families, and the communities that support them by living out God’s story of life, freedom, and community. Actually, that’s the specific vision of Story Church—the beginning of a church planting movement near military installations. 

As my family and I have prayed through and been called to our specific task, I think about a Navy SEAL’s saying: SEALs don’t overcome a situation by rising to it, but by falling back on their training. 

Over the years, I’ve been blessed to serve as a trainer, catalyst, and director of church planting. As well, I’ve been able to study the early church and the journeys of Paul within my doctoral work. So, as my family and I engage on our mission to reach and care for military communities by living out God’s story, I cannot help but to “fall back” on all of my training.

Much of that training is steeped in understanding biblical church planting strategies. Lately, I’ve been focusing on Paul’s church planting journeying—where he went, how he got there, and what he did when he was there.

To state that the Apostle Paul had connections and contact with the Roman military is an understatement. I believe Ephesians 6 and the armor of God is but one good example. 

But, whether Paul, like many Roman citizens of the first century, used the Roman military roads for easier travel, safety, or convenience, or for the purposes of the spreading of the gospel within the military could be somewhat subjective.

However, we do know that Paul chose towns, villages, and cities that had a great Roman military presence. For instance, looking at Paul’s escape from Iconium to Lystra, the notable book of Acts scholar John Polhill observed that the small Roman colony of Lystra was connected to Pisidian Antioch by a Roman military road, “located in the hill country surrounded by mountains” employed and equipped “as a Roman military post.”[1]

Reaching the military of any country is significant in the way that they are deployed throughout other countries—it resembles diapsora mission. The military as mission way of life takes on a two-fold meaning— (1) dutifully serving the mission of the country, and (2) living out God’s missional story of life, redemption, and restoration. 

Eckhard Schnabel validates how Paul broadly reached the Roman military, “In Caesarea Paul had contact with Roman Soldiers, centurions and tribunes (Acts 21:32, 37)”[2]We’ve also read the words of Paul, written to the Philippian church regarding how he witnessed and proclaimed the gospel to whole “Praetorian guard.” (Phil. 1:13). Regardless of arrest, imprisonment, or journey, Paul had much engagement with the Roman military.

Story Church’s vision is not only to care for service men and women, their families, and the communities that support them, but to see true gospel love, transformation power, enrichment, restoration, and reproducible disciple-making sending.

If you’d like to partner, support, or donate to Story Church‘s mission or contact me for more information, email matt@storychurch.live



[1]John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 312.

[2]Schnabel, Early Christian Mission,1265