Generation Z Church Thrives on Loyola’s Campus

Ministry to Generation Z often doesn’t take the shape of the church as we’ve known it. Those who are most successful in reaching this group with the gospel are those who approach them with fresh, authentic ideas.

One church that’s succeeding in this is Agape and Ecclesia, co-pastored by Northern students, Tyler Ward and Alec Kenny. The church meets on the campus of Chicago’s Loyola University.

Agape meets on Wednesday evenings for worship and Bible study; Ecclesia meets on Sunday evenings to praise God through music, art, language, and sacraments. Students lead praise and worship, a staff member preaches, and they share communion.

Tyler points out, “We intentionally use the language of ‘church.’ Our hope is that students realize that they don’t have to graduate to “become the church,” but rather that they are a part of the church right now.”

They may use the language, but this church looks a little different. “Last year we felt called to bless the Loyola track team, so we invited a group of guys into our homes for meals, prayer, and Bible study. Some of these students came to church and heard about Jesus for the first time,” Alec says.

The pastors are putting their Seminary training to good use. “One of the best things I learned at Northern came from my class in Ethnography and Evangelism,” Alec says. “Our big class assignment was to become friends with someone who is not a Christian and allow God’s Spirit to move by asking my non-Christian friend to become my teacher.” This led to a learning experience and new insights into explaining the gospel.

Tyler’s experiences at Northern were equally practical. “Letters to the Early Church helped me see the New Testament, not as a static list of instructions for the Christian life, but as a dynamic outworking of what it means to follow Jesus in wildly different contexts.” He says he grew from “the privilege of learning from people pastoring in urban, suburban, and rural contexts; from folks who are brand new church planters and people who have been pastoring for years.”

Remember that track team outreach? Well it’s bearing fruit. This spring, two track members were among six Agape and Ecclesia students baptized in Lake Michigan. Tyler says, “This is, without question, one of my favorite services of the year. Students stand on the beach, cheering, waving tambourines and car keys, blowing air horns, loudly and proudly rejoicing for their friends who are publicly deciding to follow Jesus.”

Baptism in April on Lake Michigan—isn’t it a little chilly? According to Alec,


We worship on Loyola’s Lakeshore Campus, so we might as well do our baptisms in the Lake. The water is freezing cold in April, which I think is helpful so that our faith isn’t lukewarm!”


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