10 things Church leaders need to know about Gen Z

Quiz!

1. Gen Z is currently made up of:
a. Newborn to 18 year olds
b. age 4 to college
c. age 10-25

2. Generation Z describes themselves as:
a. Hardworking, motivated, optimistic
b. Busy, focused, and a little pessimistic
c. Tech-addicted, unique, and hopeful

3. True or false? Gen Z is the least religious generation we have ever seen.

4. When it comes to technology and social media, Gen Z says:
a. It’s the best thing that ever happened to them
b. It’s having a negative influence on their lives
c. They don’t have an opinion

5. Gen Z teens in the US are:
a. Less likely than adults to be atheists
b. Slightly more likely than adults to be atheists
c. Twice as likely than adults to be atheists

6. If religious trends continue as they are in the US, more than ____ million young people will likely walk away from the church and a life of faith by the year 2050.
a. 15 million
b. 35 million
c. 50 million

Answers: B, A, True, B, C, B

Gen Z was a bit of a mystery at first, but we are gaining clarity on who they are, what they want, and how they think. Surprisingly, this pragmatic generation closely resembles traits found in their great-grands of the Silent generation.1 Knowing this gives incredible insight on how to help them understand their need for Jesus and the Church.

Top 10 things you need to understand about Gen Z:

  1. According to the Census Bureau, Gen Z is the most diverse generation in America. 48 percent of the makeup of Gen Z is non-Caucasian. They’re looking for diversity in all areas of their lives–make sure your environments and experiences welcome, reflect, and respect a wide range of variety.
  2. “Generation Z takes in information instantaneously and loses interest just as fast.” In an emoji era, “We tell our advertising partners that if they don’t communicate in five words and a big picture, they will not reach this generation.”2 Keep it short, simple, and visually oriented.
  3. They want to work for their success, not be discovered. They are willing and able (to Google and self-teach if necessary) to do the work. Speak destiny over their lives. Then, walk alongside them for the entirety of their faith journey–even when it gets bumpy and messy.|
  4. Realistic vs. opportunistic or falsely optimistic. They sniff out fake…you can’t pull the wool over on them or provide smoke and mirrors for their entertainment. They’ve seen it all, and they want substance, authenticity, and truth. All things the Church can and should provide!
  5. They believe that equality is non-negotiable. Despite having access to unlimited amounts of information, they still need us to help them translate it. We must give them a biblical lens and framework for what is important in God’s eyes, not just the eyes of the media, peers, or the social justice cause of the moment.
  6. They want to create and curate their own identities. We would do well to present reality while allowing them the opportunity to create a unique identity based in the truth that they are image-bearers.
  7. Self-selecting. They choose where to seek and find their information as well as how they spend their time. In essence, they self-determine who is influencing them. We need to utilize various social media platforms to reach and role model a God-honoring version of this generation’s curated self. They want to be seen and have the means to propagate an image from the palm of their hands–let’s encourage them to build a platform and use it to share truth.
  8. Independent vs. collaborative. With an eerie return to the “if you want something done right, do it yourself” mentality, Gen Z has swung to the opposite end of the groupthink, crowd-sourced, collaborative work and life mentality of their predecessor Millennials. We need to remind them that the Bible says that more can be done together than alone, that we are to be agents of inclusion, not seclusion.
    Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;  he breaks out against all sound judgment. Proverbs 18:1 (ESV)
  9. Private vs. public. This generation is more selective of where and how they use social media than the Millennial generation. “Generation Z [is] much more calculated and/or selective with the information they share online.”3  Be a beacon of wisdom that models and teaches discernment:
    The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:21 (NIV)
  10. Face-to-face vs. digital only. Despite being the first generation of true digital natives, this generation craves real relationships and substantive conversations. Create avenues for intentional IRL interactions to happen on a regular basis.  

When we understand that each new generation is reared by its predecessors, we see how important it is to speak to its heartfelt needs.



1http://www.generationaledge.com/blog/posts/genz-like-grandparents
2https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/fashion/move-over-millennials-here-comes-generation-z.html
3https://www.inc.com/ryan-jenkins/generation-z-vs-millennials-the-8-differences-you-.html

Rob Hoskins

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Rob is President of OneHope and Chairman of the board at Oral Roberts University (ORU). His innovative Outcome Based Ministry model and training has helped thousands of global ministries shift their paradigm and begin incorporating best practices that dramatically increase their effectiveness.

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