By Gina Calvert

How Are You Engaging the TikTok Generation?

People of all ages have become TikTok fans; in fact, 7.1% of users are 50+ (Source). But there’s no doubt that the wildly popular and rapidly expanding platform appeals to (and is molding) Gen Z like nothing we’ve seen. (And we’ve seen a lot, haven’t we?)

This article isn’t about TikTok (though you can learn what you’re up against here). Rather, let’s talk about the seemingly impossible challenge of engaging this very distracted group of 13 to 27 year olds with the Gospel. (Or, really, everyone, because aren’t all our attention spans suffering a bit in today’s culture?)

Here are a few expectations that churches need to revisit to strengthen their outreach efforts to younger demographics:

Seeing Sunday services as the ultimate benchmark

The Sunday service is a sacred cow…and with good reason. The first day of the week as a gathering time has special meaning. But do we just abandon those who don’t agree? No, we take the Message to where they are, which is online, every day of the week.

You’re already doing that, you say? Unfortunately, some church leaders believe if they’re offering online giving and have a Facebook account, they’re “digital” enough. But it’s not true.

For starters, even if you can’t get young people to attend a Sunday service, they will attend church events or week-night gatherings.

Or, they might stumble across your live streamed services and pause to listen in. Live streaming reached new heights during the pandemic with astonishing stories of broadened reach far outside local areas. Others are seeing consistent attendance and giving in what they identify as their “internet campus.” Yet some churches are missing out on this limitless opportunity to reach those who might be interested in Jesus but uninterested in Sunday services.

Choosing YOUR preferences for how you share the Message

One of the better-known facts about TikTok’s 60-second-to-10-minute videos is that they attract people with short attention spans while simultaneously making them even shorter. And that’s for something people are REALLY interested in. Not saying you should cut your sermons to 10 minutes, because that’s not where the TikTok generation is, anyway. But consider, for example:

  • Music is one of the most effective mediums for reaching the heart. Once someone starts to click on your music, the algorithms will start to deliver other Christian content to them.
  • Mini devos. Check out YouVersion’s mini devotional series with influencers like Tim Tebow, Sadie Robertson (of Duck Dynasty fame) and recording artists Tauren Wells and Tori Kelly addressing such topics as depression, anxiety, feeling stuck, and rejection. Choose someone dynamic for this type of content.
  • Video for this generation (and again, most generations) is more likely to hit its mark than written content, but both will be more effective if they mirror their entertainment by being short, impactful, engaging, and pertinent to their life.
  • Incorporate emoji language. According to one study, “using an emoji in a Tweet can increase engagement by 25% compared to messages without emojis. Using an emoji in your Facebook posts can increase shares by 33% and interactions with your post by 57%.” (Source)

Choosing YOUR preferences for where you share the message

Across every genre, content consumption is going digital. Even major sports events are now available to watch on Amazon Prime and YouTube. The kingdom message must keep up.

Facebook is the go-to social media platform for many churches. But like churches, Facebook and Twitter are seeing a mass exodus of young people (Source), while YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat are surging for those demographics.(Source).

We’re not necessarily advising you to leave Facebook and move to TikTok. Facebook now includes their own version of the short video (Reels) and, as of July 2022, still boasts enough young people to be worthwhile as part of your outreach strategy:

  • 489.12 million users aged 13 to 17 (5.6% of Facebook’s total ad audience)
  • 489 million users aged 18 to 24 (22.6% of Facebook’s total ad audience)
  • 648.6 million users aged 25 to 34 (29.9% of Facebook’s total ad audience)
  • 404.7 million uses aged 35 to 44 (18.7% of Facebook’s total ad audience)

Our advice? Enlist the help of a young person in order to be effective with your digital content efforts on a variety of platforms.

Thinking we all define “connection” the same way.

Most older people, while active online, still feel that the best connections are personal. But younger generations see almost everything differently (often to their detriment). Their fast food is now delivered by DoorDash. They don’t WANT to speak to a live customer service rep; they want to handle their details online.

They do crave connection, but they look for it online. That means evangelism for this generation involves a lot more watching, asking, and especially listening. With mental health issues at an all time high for this generation (Source), a hurting Zoomer may–one unsuspecting day–be ready to hear exactly what you’re putting out there. Isn’t that how the Spirit works?

If you’re cynical about this generation and their openness to the Gospel message, please watch the documentary, Unfiltered: How Gen Z Reacts to the Chosen. (Bring tissue.)

Believing that non-members won’t give to your church

It’s easy to assume if someone’s not AT your church, they won’t give TO your church. So that’s not typically a goal for most churches.

But consider this point from a different perspective. If you’re encouraging someone through streaming or other online venues, or playing an active role in your community with a cause that resonates with them, a Millennial assured us that young people will happily donate to help … if your giving platform makes it easy enough and inspires them.

If someone is moved to give, the truth is they may complete a gift despite hassles and a bill-pay like experience. But imagine the effect of a online gallery of your church’s inspiring ministries and projects (what we call “Give Stories”) that connect them to the church’s mission. That kind of experience could produce a closer, in-person look at your church.

A giving experience as an evangelistic tool? Maybe!

Check out Vision2’s unique media-rich giving experience on one of our client’s giving pages. It was designed to convey the impact of gifts for today’s givers.