“Generation Z will come to typify the new reality of a post-Christian world. As the first truly post-Christian generation, and numerically the largest, Generation Z will be the most influential religious force in the West and the heart of the missional challenge facing the Christian church.” – P 11, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World by James White.
Move over Boomers, Xers, and Millennials; there’s a new generation–making up more than 25 percent of the US population. They are Generation Z. They are digital, independent, global and unafraid. Born approximately between 1993 and 2012, Generation Z is the first truly post-Christian generation, and they are poised to challenge every church to rethink its role in light of a rapidly changing culture.
This is a media generation. Many have never known what it is not to have wide-screen television, computers, the internet, cell phones, text messaging, iTunes, and iPads. They are absorbed with Facebook, Twitter, blogs, video games, and the internet. They record everything they think and do, verbally and photographically—including volumes of “selfies”—and then make it available literally to the world.
Millennials are less likely to read or own a Bible, and less likely to understand how the Bible relates to daily life than older generations. Faith and religion are abstract concepts to them. And they don’t want a Christianity that presents itself as the enemy of the very culture that defines their lives.
So how are we supposed to reach these kids? It would seem difficult until we remember one thing. We need to remember that God’s Word does not change. It is the Book of the Ages. As Paul reminds us, the Gospel of Christ “…is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16). The truth transforms lives of people from any generation at any time in history.
Having said that, however, it is important that the Z generation is going to school on the previous generations. They are looking at and measuring the spiritual and personal integrity they see. They despise hypocrisy. Therefore, we need to walk the talk we talk. They need to be engaged in substantive discussions of important topics, including those which are abstract. Above all, we must sincerely love them. It’s a challenge, but it’s one we can’t avoid.
The book of Daniel contains the famous story of Daniel and his three friends. Carried from Judah to Babylon, and forced into service in the king’s palace, these young men represented a younger and transitional generation. They developed as leaders in the midst of upheaval for their people in a culture that often seemed foreign to them. In that regard, they are similar to the youth of today. Yet, in this environment, they did not succumb to the influences and temptations of the culture around them, but rather learned to navigate it and allow God to use them within it. Yes there were obstacles and yes, there are obstacles for Generation Z – yet with God anything is possible.
- What do you see as the biggest obstacle to reaching Generation Z?
- The Z generation long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt. What makes so many faith communities unsafe for questions and doubts? For faith communities to become safe places for people’s questions and doubts, what would have to change about them?
- Too often the church is known for what we are against, rather than what we stand for. What does the church stand for? Why do you think these aren’t typically the things the church is known for?