Generation Z

Taking A Deeper Look at Generation Z


Let’s start this discussion by clarifying what constitutes Generation Z and how they differ from Millennials: Generation Z are people born in the late ’90s and early 2000s. While Millennials were born in the 1980s and 1990s.

How they are Viewed by Employers.

“What these generational representatives will probably tell you is that kids these days are nothing like their immediate elders. Where Millennials were searching for meaningful toil, Gen Z are money-minded. The former like working together; the latter believe it’s every entry-level drone for themselves. Raised on participation trophies and gold stars, Millennials would rather focus on what they’re good at; having seen how cutthroat the economy can be during the most recent downturn, Gen Z are more open to working on their faults. (Those bon mots come courtesy of the SmartTribes Institute, a leadership consultancy.)”[1]

What is Generation Z’s view of religion?

Generation Zers in America have been homeschooled more than the last several generations, and most are close to their parents.

  • According to a Goldman Sachs study, they have more conservative ideas than the previous Generation X; and according to a Harvard Business Review study nearly 70% were ‘self-employed (teaching piano lessons, selling goods on eBay, etc.)’.
  • According to Dr. Joan Hope (editor of Dean & Provost), in her article, Get your campus ready for Generation Z (September 2016; The Successful Registrar, Volume 16), this generation started attending college in 2013.
  • The article reported that “Gen Zers’ participation in religion is up compared with previous generations. When asked about spirituality, 47 percent said they were religious, and an additional 31 percent said they were spiritual but not religious.  Church attendance is also up during young adulthood, with 41 percent saying they attend weekly religious services, compared with 18 percent of millennials at the same ages, 21 percent of Generation X, and 26 percent of baby boomers.”[2]

 But All is not Rosy.

This generation has grown up with a new cultural sense of ordinary.  One study by Joan Hope pointed out that there is a significant spike in church attendance by Gen Z. It is too early in their development to see if this trend holds accurate long term.  Studies also show that this will be the most significant non-white generation in history in America.  With Hispanics as the fastest-growing group among Gen Z. It is all about fertility rates. Hispanic mothers have an average of 2.4 children, compared to black mothers (2.1), and Asian and white mothers (1.8) Tom Rainer points out.  And due to this large number of non-white population growth more, Gen Z will be interracially married. Estimates that at least one of ten of this generation will marry across ethnic and racial lines.

The Social Challenges of this Generation.

 Tom Rainer also points out that, “homosexual marriage will be embraced as normative. But we cannot tell yet what percentage of Gen Z will be in a homosexual marriage. Two historic events have shaped Gen Z. Most of them were not born when 9/11 took place, but their parents and others have made the event a part of their lives and insecurities. The second event, the Great Recession, is still a reality through the recession is officially over. Gen Z parents, and thus, their children still feel the impact of a weak jobs economy.”[3]

This information paints a much more hopeful picture for the church, but it is not without its challenges.  Generation Z is a highly tech-savvy generation growing up with the internet and Smartphones as a part of their very existence.  But unlike Millennials they do tend to crave more personal contact.  More to come on this, I just wanted to whet your appetite.







Other posts on Generation Z:

Generation Z

A Simple Outreach Plan for Teenagers


Do you find yourself talking to your teen and it seems like you’re just not getting through? However, you send a text message you get a response.  This is a generation that learned to text before they learned to spell. I am tempted today just to produce two-minute videos to get my kids to do their chores.  Maybe if the video is creative enough, it will go viral and make it to YouTube where they will see it and be moved to respond.

Rob Tims in an article for LifeWay, “Preparing Your Group Ministry for Generation Z” discovered these characteristics about your technology-driven teen:

“I recently had the privilege of sitting in on a meeting led by a social media expert. The purpose of the meeting was to help people like me understand at a broad level the things that make Generation Z unique. Generation Z is the one coming behind the Millennials and could include people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, depending on whom you ask. In fact, the title “Generation Z” is a matter of debate.

“When it comes to learning, members of Generation Z:

  • Are graphically driven.
  • Dislike lectures, tests, and classrooms.
  • Are constant multi-taskers.
  • Value instant feedback.
  • Generally, do not take the time to determine the reliability of information.
  • Thrive in collaborative environments.
  • Are wired for fast delivery of content.
  • Desire a customized educational experience.
  • This presents some unique challenges and opportunities for teaching the faith to this generation.

 Preaching Style and Delivery

Our preaching approach with this generation will need a radical overhaul. Due to the fact that lectures are the least effective way to connect with them, it makes little sense to invest time in trying to do that better. We will need to view the preaching time as more of a presentation that engages the hearer with powerful images and highly interactive content. While this will require learning new skills, it opens up an entirely new opportunity to engage young people in the preparation. 

New Leadership Development Required.

Additionally, due to the learning styles of this group, learning occurs best in an environment where collaboration is valued. So the challenge for leadership will be how design an education space that will allow for their group creativity to flourish. This will also require religious leaders to feel comfortable leading a generation that will not just sit by and soak up information but will talk as much as they will listen.

Finally, the most difficult challenge will be with the issues of biblical authority and inerrancy. For a generation that normally takes some time to determine the reliability of information, will we need to give these teens space to ask difficult faith questions? Time to have doubts and not shut them down for having questions and doubts?  If we try to force Biblical authority on them, I fear we will lose the right and ability to have influence in their life.

If you have rattling around in the back of our minds this church thing was going to get easier once the Millennials came back, clear out the marbles and think again. This generation will cause us to continue to grow in our approach to preaching, teaching and leadership development. However, what an amazing opportunity to discover new and innovative ways to proclaim the love of Christ to the next generation of disciples.

Check out this post with a simple practical approach to help churches better reach their communities.  Also, if you want to read a blog I co-wrote with Ann Ciaccio on what does your church sigh really say about you.  Check out this link.


This is the second of a series of blogs on Generation Z. Below is the other post.


Generation Z

How Pokemon Go Is Making Dad Cool?


“Hey Dad, Can I come with you?” These are the words every dad wants to hear from his teenage son. He wants to spend time with his old man. What could be better? What could bring a father greater joy? We all have had that experience where you son gets too old to want just to hang out with dear old dad. But something about this request seems odd. You would think this is a good thing. When he gets in the car, I begin to engage him in whity banter. There is dead silence on the other end. Did I do something uncool? If he did not want to talk why did my son what to come along for the ride? I am starting to feel like other factors are motivating this new found sense of togetherness. He is not hanging out with me because he discovered how cool his dad is. He is hanging out with me because he has been bitten by the new Pokémon Go phenomenon. I have no idea what it is all about. I don’t get why it’s popular, but I see that it is all the rave these days. When I went online to find out what the draw was. I ran across this comment to explain why it is so popular.

“The completionist “gotta catch ‘em all” is a pull for me definitely. The integration with real-life locations is giving me a reason to get up and walk/run to places nearby that I otherwise would never have seen. I’ve definitely gotten more cardio the past two days than I have the last three months combined. Also, the social aspect: I’m running into a bunch of other Pokémon trainers out in the real world, and it’s an easy way to strike up a conversation with strangers. The sheer number of people that are engrossed in finding Pokémon in the real world (and walking around) is amazing.”

So from what I gather from my brief online research is that Pokemon there are three benefits. 1) It gets people out of the house. 2) If you do it the right way, it has health benefits. At least it gets people off the couch and moving. And 3) It is building a new sense of community. Now while I am disappointed that my son is not hanging out with the old man because he thinks I am cool, least we are hanging out. And ever so often between him looking for some new rare pocket monster, we sneak in a conversation. On those rare occasions when his face is not buried in his cell phone, we get a chance to connect. I will take those 35-second conversations. It may not be much as I would like, I still get an opportunity to be a positive influence. I will take what I can get. So Pokemon Go is making hanging out with dad cool.


Generation Z

Two Simple Ways To Reach the Hearts of Your Tech-Addicted Teens?


I love this quote, “Our Youth are not only the future but God’s gift to the Church and society today.”  With a group that numbers at nearly 2 billion strong around the world, they are every brand’s next best customer. One major challenge connecting with this group will be trying to break through the extreme digital clutter of their lives. Between SnapChats, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, finding a pathway through all that won’t be easy.  However, even with all those barriers, as this next generation makes their mark on the world the church should be encouraged.  Before we go much further, let me describe this group.

From an article From Intervarsity Press:

According to Greg Jao, “Generation Z is the population that grew up after 9/11. So the 9/11 reality of a world that’s filled with war and terrorism [and] collapsing economies has been the only reality they know.”  Members of Generation Z are digital natives, Jao says. That means they have grown up in a world where they’ve always read from screens and always expect to.

“If this group of students, for example, didn’t grow up in an era of economic prosperity but have always been defined by the economy collapses…, what is the word of hope that we offer them? It’s not going to be the American Dream, and it’s not going to be just ‘find a good spouse and a good home and a good community and a good job.’ But they’re students who actually know that there’s real pain, real suffering, and real injustice in the world. And I believe that’s an entry point to the Gospel because the only solution to those issues is Jesus Christ working through the Church to transform our culture.”

Gen Z shares the entrepreneurial spirit of millennial innovators: About 72% of current high-schoolers want to own their own businesses, and 76% hope they can turn their hobbies into full-time jobs.

Armed with this information the question is “How do we engage this generation?”

  1. We have to connect Generation Z to God’s Word with powerful images, icons, and symbols.

“This is a generation that you cannot capture their attention merely by being gimmicky, by attempting to be trendy, or hoping for something to go viral. I think what will capture this generation’s attention is a true community, where they encounter real people and real conversation,” Greg Jao

In my previous post about Millennials and now this Generation Z there is a common theme.  Both are seeking authenticity.  They both are seeking real relationships, desire a real community, and engaged in real conversations.  So the Church can pump the brakes on trendy, edgy marketing approaches that drove the church growth movement and get back to be real and relevant.  We get to dig deeper into God’s word and allow that powerful, living Word of God to shape our discipleship, transform our minds and worship as Paul describes in Romans 12:2 “Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.”

What an amazing opportunity to connect with this new generation of leaders, who want authentic relationships. We offer them an authentic Savior in Jesus Christ.

  1. They have a realistic but not fatalistic view of the world.

This group understands that no matter what happens to this world, there is a greater power in control in, God.  While other generations suffer from the distraction of seeking a nation, political figure or movement as their savior, not so with these young realists. They know that is not the case, this may be the factor that drives them back to church.  Studies show they will be more faithful church-goers than the Millennials. However, before you get too excited, the partnership between knowing the reality of pain in this world while being immersed in a digital world creates a challenge for those trying to spread the Gospel.

Here is the landscape God is laying before us:  these young people are your current youth groups students.  The road ahead is challenging, but hopeful.

Next week look for the continuation of this series on Generation Z.