Generational researchers have suggested that Generation Z, those born in 1995 and later, are uniquely different from generations past. Comprising of 25.9% of the U.S. population, the faces of this generation possess potential to be a formidable force for change. This has been made evident in the recent response to the Parkland school shooting.
The key question is what can we learn from recent observations, and more importantly how should the church respond?
Reason to revolt
This generation has been shaped by the recession of 2008 and has never known life without terror. They have never known school life that didn’t involve drills on how to respond to an active shooter situation. They have never known life without fear surrounding fun.
We should not be shocked to learn that this generation is hyperaware of man’s impact on the world. They have entrepreneurship in their social DNA, and they intend to change the world. This has been witnessed recently with organized rallies to walk out of school or to raise awareness for gun control.
I have no desire to turn this conversation into a political discussion, but to simply draw attention to the reality that we are beginning to see the fruition of the potential of this great generation.
Listen and engage
For a moment, lay aside your fear of terror, your defense of the 2nd Amendment, or your frustration with teenagers. We should heed the example of the men of Issachar, who in 1 Chronicles 12:32 evaluated the culture and trends of the time to determine a wise course of action. The people of God can not afford to hold the position of the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.
It would behoove us to be cultural missionaries, as James Emery White encourages in his recent work, Meet Generation Z. While we may disagree, or even be offended, what others believe or say; we must listen and learn to engage our world for the sake of the Gospel.
A generation is rising up with a heart for change. These students are not satisfied with status quo, nor are they relegated to sit quietly and fall in line. They have a voice and will use it. Imagine the potential if this generation is reached for the Gospel and use that revolutionary spirit and voice for change to spark a revival in this world.
They truly are the first post-Christian generation in the world. While this could cause fear, what if we flipped the coin over and chose to look at it differently? A colleague of mine recently made a choice to look at this generation as pre-Christian rather than post-Christian.
Choose to reach
In the words of Jesus in John 4:35, the “fields are white unto harvest”. This has never been truer. The church of God cannot sit idly by and allow the deep pockets of political agenda to sweep away the future. The church must resolve and choose to reach the next generation.
Consider an intentional effort to look with hope rather than frustration. Commit to listen and learn with the hope of engaging this generation with the Gospel. Choose to reach out and show God’s love.
If you are looking for a place to start, consider visiting reachingnextgen.com for a step by step guide on what your church can do today to make a difference.
1. Beall, George. “8 Key Differences between Gen Z and Millennials.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 6 Nov. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/george-beall/8-key-differences-between_b_12814200.html.
2. Gen Z: the Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the next Generation. Barna Group, 2018.
3. “Meet Generation Z.” The Washington Post, WP Company, www.washingtonpost.com/video/entertainment/meet-generation-z/2016/05/25/290c2c00-21db-11e6-b944-52f7b1793dae_video.html?utm_term=.faeced611da5.
4. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ch 12:32). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
5. White, James Emery. Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World. Baker Books, 2017.