I read a book while I was on vacation. Actually I read seven books, but the one I want to talk about for a moment was entitled "Meet Generation Z". You may know that sociologist categorize generations of people, giving each generation a name. There were Builders, Baby Boomers, Gen Xer and Millenials. And now some sociologist are beginning to call the youngest group coming up "Generation Z."
Every generation has had it unique attributes and influences. But the generation of young people who are children and youth right now are being shaped by social and technological forces unlike any generation before them. I couldn't begin to reflect on all of the insights from the book, but there is one attribute I do want to reflect on.
This generation is not only the first to grow up with the internet in their pocket and having never known a world without social media. It is also the first generation to grow up entirely in a post Christian culture. Without getting into all of the statistical data, the long and short of it is that this generation growing up now is less connected (by far) to Christ or the church than any generation before them.
If you work with kids, volunteer at a school, have school age children or grandchildren, this probably is not news to you. What might be news to you, what I have experienced in our own church, and what the author reports seeing in his research, is that these Gen Z kids (and many young Millennials) who are choosing to follow Christ are doing so with tremendous passion. What I'm seeing in our church, and what we are seeing in culture, is that many of our young people who are choosing to follow Christ are doing so with greater fervor than any generation before them.
In other words, far fewer young people than in previous generations would consider themselves Christ followers. But those who are choosing to follow Jesus are all in! They are passionately sold out for Christ and they are world changers. As such, the Christian church stands on the cusp of what is, at once, the most challenging time in our history and a time of greatest opportunity.
So the challenge, and opportunity, before our church, and I believe every Christian church, is to figure out how to reach this emerging generation. I wish I had an easy answer. Five easy steps to reaching the next generation. I don't. But I believe it is possible. I'm also pretty sure it is going to require change, innovation and some measure of sacrifice on our part. It won't be easy, but nothing great ever is.
In light of the statistical data, it would be easy to be discouraged. In times like this we could wring our hands and hang our heads in defeat. Or we could roll up our sleeves and determine to do whatever it takes to reach this next generation for Christ. I chose the later. I want us to be a church where more and more young people are coming to know Christ, are experiencing Christian community and are being deployed back into the world to share his love with others.
Thoughts? Reflections? Feel free to comment below.