The Youth Ministry Mindset Podcast – Ep. 2: Understanding Gen Z with guest Katie Prejean McGrady

Watch The Youth Ministry Mindset Podcast on YouTube or listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

In Episode 2 of The Youth Ministry Mindset Podcast, a limited series with voices from Alpha and YDisciple, Joshua, Annie, and Jordan continue to discuss how to move from transactional to transformational ministry. Katie Prejean McGrady weighs in with insights into how Gen Z thinks and ways to reach them in a digital world. Join us as we continue the conversation on what youth ministers can do moving into a post-COVID world.


COVID presented us with a new opportunity to reshape the culture of youth ministry in the Church.

What makes Gen Z tick?

There are three different sections of Gen Z: An older section in college, high schoolers, and the younger in middle school. 

Gen Z’ers need affirmation, and they find it in the dopamine they receive from phone usage and social media. They are black-and-white on issues; “the wokest generation.” We can learn from them. 

 They are the misunderstood generation, and they look for authentic connections. They look for and are finding that in the digital world. Dialogue and conversation are happening. We cannot write off phone usage; it truly is a means to authentic connection. 

 How do we reach Gen Z? We can’t just occupy digital spaces. We need to draw them away into real life and give them a break we know they need, but this needs to be done out of love, not judgment. We can create connections by seeing them and speaking to them as individuals. We need to grow in empathy for Gen Z. What are their daily struggles that we may not know? They feel isolated. They are looking for relationships to thrive. They want a Church that speaks love and truth, but not in an accusing way. They want us to see their struggles, reference their social media post, offer to pray, and give resources. We enter into the digital space, then pull them out. We can be the one who tells them they are not alone.

 Katie Prejean McGrady weighs in on what she would tell volunteers. First, establish trust. Engage their life, “What did you watch on Netflix?” They want a relationship. And they want substance; they are not afraid to go deeper. But be sure to love them as you go there.

 It’s essential to be “both/and”; be compassionate, but don’t sacrifice truth. The “how” matters. 

We need to draw them into a space outside the digital world where they know they are known and loved. We have to listen to people over data, not data over people. We have to be students of this generation. And let’s have this conversation with Gen Z, not just youth ministers. Also, the internet is not the enemy. We can find appropriate ways to use social media as an avenue to begin relationships. It’s important to put ourselves in the shoes of young people.

 What did you take away from this conversation? How do you want to unpack it in your ministry?


  1. Ratatouille: The Musical
  2. Understanding and Ministering to Millenials and Gen Z by Katie Prejean McGrady…


9:23: “We don’t need to just occupy those spaces and shove Jesus stuff in their face there…try to draw them away for some respite.”

15:33 “We are not always on offense. Sometimes we are on defense. And defense doesn’t mean we just roll over and let this kid walk away. It just means that I need to find another way to connect with them.

19:32 “They want a church that speaks love and truth.., but doesn’t do it in an accusatory or attacking kind of way.”

21:13 “I think that is very true of a lot of Gen Zers. They just need somebody to listen to them and process.”

26:53 “A young person wants to know that you see them and love them before they know you know anything practical about the Church.”


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