From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders…..all these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take. 1 Chronicles 12:32 NLT
There is a new generation on the scene making up 25% of the US population that represents nothing less than a seismic cultural shift. Born between 1993 and 2012, Generation Z will challenge the local church to rethink virtually every aspect of church life. While we are still in the early days of Generation Z research*, the following 10 characteristics are becoming increasingly clear and point to the missional challenge facing the Christian church.
Generation Z – The New Reality
- Facts: 9/11 was perpetrated by Radical Islamic Terrorists.
- Message: Religion is blamed for terrorism. The more politicians and leaders blame radical Islam the more religion in general appears evil.
- Implications for the Church: Overly religious people are perceived as fundamentalists, radical, zealots and holy warriors.
Church Scandal Scarred
- Facts: Generations of systematic cover up of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church was exposed.
- Message: This cover up contributed, along with highly visible moral failures of prominent ministers, to an overall cynicism toward and a decline in respect for the clergy.
- Implications for the Church: Clergy are perceived as hypocrites and can’t be trusted.
Religious Right Alienated
- Facts: Christians became synonymous with the Religious Right. By 2004 the Religious Right had won the battle and lost the war by electing George W. Bush but in the process alienated an entire generation of young people.
- Message: The conservative evangelical mix of religion and politics is a turn off and contradicts emerging generations’ views on women, immigration, same sex relationships, the environment and legalization of abortions and marijuana.
- Implications for the Church: Christianity is perceived as narrow minded, over-politicized, judgmental, hypocritical, insensitive, exclusive, and out of touch with reality.
Homosexuality Controversy Disillusioned
- Facts: Mainline Protestants can’t agree on homosexuality, costing clergy jobs, splitting churches and denominations, and resulting in lawsuits over property.
- Message: Many of Generation Z are appalled by the politicization, nastiness and overall low spiritual tone of the debate.
- Implications for the Church: Christianity is perceived as mean, bigoted, homophobic, and makes people behave badly.
- Facts: Generation Z’s are coming of age in an era when gay marriage and transgender rights are in the mainstream news.
- Message: Accepting nature of Generation Z’s makes them strong supporters of gay marriage, homosexual and transgender rights, and out-of-wedlock births.
- Implications for the Church: Generation Z’s feel sexuality should be set free from any and all restrictions and people should be allowed to follow their desires moment by moment. Why? The greatest value of this generation is individual freedom.
- Facts: The Great Recession resulted in fewer jobs, higher college loan debt, increasing number of young people living with their parents longer, and waiting later to get married.
- Message: Money is not as much of a motivator as with previous generations.
- Implications for the Church: Generation Z’s are highly responsible and entrepreneurial and feel they can’t depend upon anyone else to help them financially or with their career.
- Facts: Multiracial children are the fastest growing youth group in America; by 2020 half will be a minority or ethnic group. Generation Z’s are the most genetically diverse generation.
- Message: Where Generation Z’s live, learn, work and play is marked by all forms of diversity (ethnic, socio-economic, 5 different generations, sexually, etc.). This leads to a more accepting, inclusive and compassionate generation
- Implications for the Church: If you aren’t accepting of racial and ethnic diversity, personally or organizationally, then you are exclusive, prejudiced and bigoted.
- Facts: The internet in its pocket generation. Generation Z’s can’t remember a world without constant and convenient access to the web. They average 9 hours a day consuming media—91% go to bed with their devices. But, only 15% prefer to interact with friends via social media rather than face to face.
- Message: Social media is not second nature to Generation Z, it is their primary nature. Generation Z’s ability to find whatever they are after without the help of intermediaries such as libraries, stores, teachers.
- Implications for the Church: New Orleans Baptist Seminary President Chuck Kelly says, “Our new task is to help young people evaluate the information they receive on the internet.”
- Facts: Generation Z represents the first generation raised by and large by parents and a culture that does not espouse Christian beliefs and values.
- Message: The younger the generation, the more Post-Christian they are.
- Implications for the Church: We are now living in an age where there is no longer the primacy of the Christian world view in values, ideologies, politics and religion.
Spiritually But Not Religiously Inclined
- Facts: Polls show that “spirituality” has taken on a positive connotation while “religion” is often perceived negatively. These same polls find “religion” is on the wane and “spirituality” is on the upswing.
- Message: Generation Z’s are not abandoning spirituality, but are saying I am dissatisfied with the way things are, and I want to find a new way of connecting with God, my neighbor and my own life.
- Implications for the Church: Generation Z’s are abandoning religion in record numbers and becoming the “Nones” generation, but still consider themselves spiritual.
Meet Generation Z by James Emery White
Generation Z Goes To College by Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace
Christianity After Religion by Diana Butler Bass
Posted on August 15, 2017