Empowering Gen Z

Nurturing Christian Vocations and Influencers

May 24, 2024

By Dominic G. Joeph
KOTA KINABALU, Sabah: Each Vocations Sunday, a resounding call echoes forth, summoning passionate, dedicated, and capable young individuals from Generation Z (Gen Z) to contemplate a life dedicated to the priesthood or religious vocation.

However, vocation surpasses mere entrance into the priesthood or embracing a consecrated life. In a religious context, vocation signifies God’s call to serve Him in the world. This divine summons unfolds through the sacraments of ‘Baptism’ and ‘Confirmation,’ guiding individuals toward a particular life path. Whether as a single person, married individual, ordained priest, or vowed religious, one can heed God’s call in various ways.

Pope Francis summarised the essence of our ‘Christian Vocation’ in his message for the 61st World Day of Prayer for Vocations, observed by the Church on April 21. He stated, “Our life finds fulfilment when we discover who we are, our gifts, where they can bear fruit, and what path we can follow to become signs and instruments of love, generous acceptance, beauty, and peace, wherever we are.”

Emphasising the theme Called to sow seeds of hope and to build peace, the Pope’s message underscores the holistic nature of vocation. Therefore, by embracing this comprehensive understanding, Church leaders can engage positively with Gen Z.

In his book, The Happiest People On Earth Demos Shakarian, founder of the ‘Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International' (FGBMFI), shares a profound insight: “The Lord tells each one of us to go with whatever gift He has given — knowing that when we find that gift and use it, no matter what the condition of the world around us, we will be the happiest people on earth.”

This sentiment echoes Pope Francis’ summary of our ‘Christian Vocation.’ In October 1974, Demos Shakarian was honoured with an invitation to the Vatican, acknowledging the pivotal role of the ‘Fellowship’ in reaching out to a vast number of Catholic laymen.

Recognising the importance of building rapport and empowering Generation Z as Christian influencers, initiatives like the recent talk organised by the FGB Sabah Chapter titled Enlivening and Empowering the Gen Z for Kingdom Work are crucial in sustaining the concept of ‘vocation’ in the 21st century.

The speaker, Dr John Ng from Singapore, serves as the Chief Passionary Officer of Meta Consulting , spearheading transformative projects with leading corporations. Additionally, he holds the position of Honorary Chair at the Eagles Leadership Institute, dedicated to nurturing value-based leaders, and has authored several influential books.

During his presentation, Dr John skilfully amalgamated a wealth of credible data and personal experiences, explaining key insights on bridging the gap between Church leaders and the Gen Z Christian community.

He initiated the dialogue with a poignant inquiry: “What do you believe are the foremost challenges confronting young people today?” He emphasised the necessity of confronting these contemporary challenges head-on.

One attendee astutely remarked, cautioning against assumptions that high attendance at Church events necessarily indicates commitment to Christian vocation among Gen Z. They might simply seek leisure, stress relief, socialisation, or entertainment.

Other feedback underscored the Gen Z’s quest for genuine, competent, and unassuming spiritual mentors, cautioning against the superficiality of titles within the Church hierarchy. Another voice cautioned against underestimating the discernment of Gen Z.

The pervasive influence of the digital era has left many Gen Z individuals disillusioned and disengaged, inundated by a deluge of misinformation and trapped in selfreinforcing echo chambers. Consequently, they grapple with a sense of hopelessness and apathy.

However, amidst this complex landscape, a counselor urged discernment, noting that while many Gen Z members outwardly conform to societal norms, their subconscious mindset diverges significantly, ensconced within their echo chambers.

Dr John proposed a comprehensive strategy for Church leaders to engage and empower Gen Z as Christian influencers, advocating for the creation of safe spaces for substantive discussions and the formation of peer groups like PACT (Peer Accountability for Creative Thriving).

Furthermore, he emphasised the imperative for Church leaders to embody values of authenticity, humility, and openness, fostering an environment conducive to breaking the echo chamber mentality. Creative learning approaches, community impact projects, and proactive talent scouting were also highlighted as essential tactics.

As he concluded the session, Dr John emphasised the importance of nurturing young people within the Church not only to groom future leaders but also to harness their potential contributions. Drawing parallels with biblical narratives, he highlighted instances where God utilised young individuals like Timothy (cf Acts 20:1) to accomplish remarkable feats, underscoring the significance of investing in the youth for the Church’s vitality and continuity.

It’s important to note that the challenges of engaging Gen Z in matters of vocation and faith are not exclusive to Christian denominations alone but extend to the Catholic Church as well. The issues of disillusionment, disengagement, and the echo chamber effect are prevalent across various religious communities, necessitating a concerted effort to address them holistically.

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