“Is it possible that we are preparing young people for a world that no longer exists?” A recent Barna Group study examined the beliefs and opinions of “Generation Z,” (those born after 1998) and has some surprising things to report. A synopsis of the report was given by Jonathan Marrow of Impact360 in partnership with Family Research Council.
Gen Z is considered a ‘post Christian’ generation. Many Millennials left the church and criticized it because of failures they saw. Gen Z however is starting with a blank slate. They are in a process of “Religion 2.0,” which is society’s belief that “We know religion has failed, so how do we preserve the good things that it brought?”
Now into the statistics:
Gen Z says following Christ is a challenge because of two main aspects: They can’t give adequate answers to the big questions of the faith, and they fear being labeled as an extremist and becoming isolated. (In today’s world, a firm Biblical worldview is being placed in the extremist category and “nobody wants to be friends with an extremist.”)
More than half of Gen Z-ers put church in the categories of “not” or “not very” important.
Many of these statistics give us reason to be concerned. What do we do? How do we reach these people with the truth? The challenge is a daunting one, but there are 5 key strategies that will help us succeed:
One more thing: The youth of today are aware of far more, and at a far younger age, than previous generations. For example: To many of you, the LGBT community is a statistic and a news topic. For today’s youth, they are classmates, co-workers and friends. Gen Z and Millennials are immersed in today’s tough issues, and if we want to reach them we need to be able to get down into the issue with them. Identifying something as wrong and commanding them to stay away is not a winning strategy. They are wrestling with the tough issues and we need to wrestle alongside them. If we paint a picture that someone with gender dysphoria is a bad person, how can we expect them to discuss the issue with us? Or further, why would anyone discuss it with us? Today’s youth are searching for facts, (46% of Gen Z) they are longing for real connection, they are comfortable talking about the real issues and many have said the church is teaching things that are too shallow. All four of these facts present us with a tremendous opportunity to give information, foster genuine relationships and wrestle with the hard issues.
Information Sources: Barna Group, Impact360, Family Research Council