Engaging Gen Z


It seems that each new generation takes the blame for the current status of our society. Blame the boomers, the millennials and now, blame Gen Z. Generation Z is the largest generation we have seen with an estimated 69-70 million youth. This generation are digital natives, having grown up with technology and they don’t remember the time before cell phones, or the internet. How do we engage a generation of youth that are unique? Do our programs and methods prepare them to face our current world or one twenty years ago? The Barna group has done some amazing research into the different generations. Here are some of our thoughts on how we can shift how we engage this generation of youth.

This generation can spend upwards of 8 hours looking at screens in a given day. Our programs and groups needs to operate in a way that communicates to and engages youth digitally. You should have a social media strategy in place to equip, empower and engage youth throughout the week. Give them some quick tips of information, give them other ways to connect with your program and engage them in conversations.  Help them learn on to stay safe online and develop positive habits. We must continue to leverage technology in order to influence youth.

As this generation is so diverse with many beliefs, and with a hesitancy to undermine someone else’s, youth today need safe spaces. This includes space to just be, free of judgement or bullying, and safe places to ask questions about the world. Many adults feel that when youth ask questions, or why something is the way it is, that they are being disrespectful. What if we changed this mindset to understand that youth are simply getting as much information as they can to formulate their own beliefs and worldview? These safe spaces help youth process a fast-paced and interconnected way of thinking to allow them to develop.
Generation Z is looking towards the future. They measure their success by the professional success, their influence and their financial security. We can walk alongside youth to point to areas where happiness doesn’t always equal money. As caring adults we can also teach them financial lessons early, from saving money to college choices. Helping youth discover their purpose and how they can make a mark on the world allows us to engage youth in new and exciting way.

Times are changing, and how we engage youth should change too. Build authentic relationships with them to help navigate an ever changing social, cultural and professional landscape. We shouldn’t be worried about our future with Generation Z, we should be excited that we get to partner with them in changing the world.

Check out Barna’s research on generations here, or check out their book on Generation Z.

Orange Tour!


In early May, we had to opportunity to attend the Orange Conference. It is by far the best conference that helps impact the next generation we have been too. For a long time we wished we could help bring the information and material to us locally and find ways to bring more of our team. Orange has done just that.

They call it Orange Tour. It is a great way to get a scaled-down, but jammed packed, experience with a ton of information and resources. They have the same great speakers, same great breakouts and amazing resources to share.

Last year, a few people from our team had no clue what Orange was and the impact that Orange is having by influencing the next generation, families, and organizations that influence them. We decided to get our team acclimated by sending them to an Orange Tour stop.

They hadn’t even come back home yet and we were brainstorming new ideas and wrestling with challenging topics. Orange Tour was a great way to get some of our team introduced to Orange strategy. We have had better conversations as a team as we are able to all come from the same reference point and philosophy. Using the Phase framework, we can help address the needs of our youth and their families better as they grow up. In the end, our youth and families win because we look for new ways to engage our community and influence the next generation.

This years theme is “It’s Personal.” We dive in to see how we can not just impact the life of a generation, but get personal with one youth. If you are looking for a strategy to unite your team around check out an Orange Tour stop near you. Just click here to get more information on this great opportunity.




We got into a long, and at moments heated, conversation about change. Our youth were questioning whether it was possible to change. There was a worry that if they were to change and community members remained the same, they would be in danger. Youth weren’t expecting to live past the age of 25, so why go through the trouble of changing.

This is a common experience. For us it is an issue of hope. That for some of our youth they have not created an image of a positive future for themselves. They are not sure of how they can change, how others could help, or how to leverage their passions to find success.

We began to reframe the conversation. We simply asked, “What if you lived longer?”

Some of our youth never thought of this before. We began to think through people in their life that they want to be like who are older than what they expect to live to. They gave names of brothers, uncles and even their Mom. The next step was to think of one thing they could do to be more like that person. Our youth began to answer with graduate from high school, start a business and needing to be kinder.

We began working on goals around their answers and seeing how reaching that goal might be a positive thing for them. A difficult conversation was shifted to one that help our youth see hope.

What if we realized that a major aspect of the work we all do with youth was simply to give them hope. How would that change your conversations, your interactions with youth and how you support their families?

Give them hope.

Orange Conference 19.2



Day Two is wrapping up and we got wrecked by one of our workshops: Engage, Mobilize and Launch City Students. Here are are few of our favorite quotes:

Their position and perspective changes when you make it personal.

You are giving them things in their NOW, that they will need in their NEXT.

There is a gap between what you know and the real world that kids live in. It’s your job to bridge the gap.

Do you believe down deep that every young person is wired to do significant things.

It is a passion here at Rally Youth that we believe that EVERY young person is wired to do significant things. It is our job to walk with them as they discover it, fail at it, and need us to catch them in the process. We loved hearing from the speakers Robert Purvey and Lisette Fraser, feel free to check out below along with our other notes from the day.

Main Session 19.2






Orange Conference 19.1


We have wrapped up a big day at our favorite conference, Orange. Something that was said that has sparked some great conversation for us is a simple question:

How do we help young men and young women determine their gifting, their passion and walk with them in their purpose?

That is a passion of ours at Rally Youth. Walking alongside youth to help them discover what they are passionate about and help them find their purpose in the world. When we can help youth discover their purpose and how to leverage their passions it transcends a simple vocation, allowing youth to thrive.

Here are our notes from the breakout labs we attended today and some great quotes from the conferences main session tonight. Be sure to follow us on Instagram @rally_youth to see what else we are learning!





Main Session #1 Quotes

More than a Number



I was walking up to the football field and noticed he was wearing my number. The same number that I wore when I played for years.

That means something. There is tradition in jersey numbers, there is expectation and there is meaning. You see kids pick out numbers that reflect their heroes and favorite players.

He was wearing my number.

Words couldn’t express what that did for me. I walked up and asked him if it was just a random coincidence. He said he remembered me telling him that was my number from a conversation I had no recollection of.

He did.

You never know what impact you are actually having. There may be no thank you or party thrown in your honor, you may never receive an award. You are still making a difference.

Keep showing up for them. Be consistent and show up when they expect you too and when they don’t expect you too. When you show up when it is expected you are there for your appointments, weekly meetings or programs. When you show up unexpected, you enter into their world, you show up for lunch with their favorite fast food, you pick them up early to go shoot hoops, or you attend their sporting events.

Don’t underestimate the power of your influence in young people’s lives. Keep showing up. You’re their hero.



We often ask youth to be in a vulnerable space; to share about their lives, their pasts, their families, their hurts and the road that has led them to where they are today. It may take time to break down those walls that have been built up for so long. Youth will continue to ask questions about whether it is actually safe to share like you say it is, they wrestle with conflicting values of sharing something or not depending on the adult in their life, and in the end, they may not be sure you can handle their truth. No wonder youth may not be sharing or speaking up as you had hoped when you first sat amongst them.

If the risk of vulnerability increases, we want to increase the feeling of safety.

When we ask youth to be vulnerable and open up with set the stage for them to feel safe.

We break into small groups for our conversations about life, specific topics, and teaching skills. For moments that we can anticipate a high vulnerability we break these small groups, into even smaller groups. It makes the asks to be vulnerable a little bit safer.

Right now many of our groups are mixed gender. Volunteers and the youth who are showing up usually determine this to us. However, for big moments we will always split up youth by gender with the same gender leader. This can get tricky sometimes but conversations that include topics about sex, mental health, and abuse should always been in a place of safety. To help youth feel safe, we will continue to reevaluate what a typical group looks like.

If we are anticipating a tough conversation with youth get another trusted adult involved. Maybe it is their parent, coach, or a previous small group leader. It may help hold you accountable for a tough conversation. To help a youth feel safe, be vulnerable with your own life. Strategic sharing and normalizing a conversation can decrease any sense of guilt, shame, or doubt and allow youth to begin to talk about a big moment.

Safety is vital to youth beginning to process the moments of the past and present so they can walk confidently into the future.

Be Mindful



Something that I have been trying to work on with youth these days is the concept of mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness helps our youth be in the moment. It can help them make better decisions, control their emotions, and helps them relate to other youth better. There is a lot that can go into mindfulness, different techniques or directions that depend on who is talking about it. The three that I try to help youth focus on are mindful feelings, mindful bodies, and mindful communication. Helping our youth be aware of what they are thinking or feeling, what their bodies are telling them and how they are talking and listening to others can make a major difference in the life of a youth. Mindfulness can help bring a sense of control back to the lives of a teenager whose world is often in chaos.

When we are talking about mindful feelings, we also look to the thoughts behind the feelings. Helping youth identify what the emotion is they are feeling, whether anger, sadness, joy or any one of the many emotions we feel as people can start the process to being in the moment. We worry about the past and get anxious about the future and that can lead us to not thinking about the moment. There are two big questions that I like to ask youth who may be feeling overwhelmed: What are you like when you are well? What are some things you need to help you get there? These questions can be a great conversation starter with youth you work with.

Mindful bodies help us be aware of what our bodies are telling us. I typically help youth do some sort of breathing, I personally love a timed rhythm of 4 seconds in, 4 seconds hold, and 4 seconds out for a good breathing pattern to calm us down. While breathing, I ask youth to be aware of their surroundings, take notes of your five senses, do a body scan for where you feel tense. A question I work with youth on through this is what are some early warning signs that your body gives you that you are getting overwhelmed or not doing ok. Many of the responses include they change body posture, clench fists, start crying for no reason, chest feels tight, or get extra tired.

We then move on to who we can use mindfulness when we are communicating. The big part of this is using active listening to be in the moment, not just waiting for your turn to talk or getting distracted in the conversation. Simply asking a youth how do they know when someone isn’t listening to them, and what does it look like when they do can start a conversation and good practice in to using mindfulness to communicate.

Mindfulness is about being in the moment, being aware of what is happening. Many times we get bogged down by the past, future, and our busyness. When we can help young people take control of themselves, we can see them thrive.


One of our core values is growth, particularly in how it plays out for personal development. Growth shapes how we make decisions, how we advocate for youth, how we do training’s, and it shapes our conversations. As a leader it is important to not just sit on our laurels, but to continue to push ourselves to learn new things, discover ourselves more and see ourselves grow into the person we aspire to be. It is a main tenet we tell our youth, that who they were before this moment, is not who they need to be in the next. We have a say in who we are becoming, and that is powerful.

A huge way we have continued to grow is simply in learning new things. We want to instill in our youth a passion for learning and a drive to be an individual that can influence their families and neighborhoods to reach their full potential. We sign up for classes, register for new degrees, dive into new activities and the bravest of all, try new foods. All of this in the pursuit of becoming.

We love that we get to partner with Orange. They are a group of people that love influencing the next generation and empowering leaders to do the same. They do this through Weekly emails, video training’s, and host amazing conferences. While they are geared to helping churches and families influence the next generation, we have always been able to apply their knowledge to anything we do, the programs we partner with or the youth and families we spend our time with. If you are looking for an amazing conference that will help you grow and develop, check out ReThink Leadership Conference. Orange runs this conference during the same time as the Orange Conference, but it is geared to leadership positions specifically. This is your chance to “rethink, rehash, and reshape” how you engage youth and families.

If you passion for growing, challenging yourself and learning, check out Rethink Leadership Conference. We can’t wait to see you there!

Life Together

Skateboarding Together


Working with youth has a lot of rewards, but can also be very challenging. As caring adults in the life of young people we believe in the power of relationships to help us connect with kids. Relationships are a two way street and we must be willing to put into it just as much as we expect to receive in return. If we expect our youth to open up about themselves, we should be willing to open up as well. Now, we do expect there to be boundaries and there shouldn’t be a time where you use your youth as your support network. However, when we can give the youth we work with a place of honor in our lives, an inside scoop to our important moments, it shows them they matter, they are valued, and they are cared for.

For my wedding, we invited a whole bunch of youth we work with. It was a blast, and we all danced our butts off. We just found out we are expecting a baby, we found a fun way to break the news to the youth we work with. These moments are big moments in the life of anyone. Youth, however, are often some of the last to hear about these things. What if they were first?

When we prioritize youth in our lives, they see that they are a priority.

Social media allows us to demonstrate this in an easy way. It seems like youth live by the old adage “If it isn’t posted on Instagram, does it even matter?” When you go out with a bunch of youth, share about it. It lets youth know that you are present and that they are an important part of your life. In return, get ready for youth to share news with you, open up in a new way and engage the programs you are building with a passion.