Reaching Generation Z
Generation Z stands out for a lot of reasons. They get a fairly bad rap for being tech-obsessed and socially anxious. But, given that they are the future of our world they deserve extra attention when looking at how to reach them. Like all generations before them, they are lost and broken. This has manifested itself in new ways. Generation Z is documented by anyone born after 1996. Ben Shapiro states that “there seems to be a crisis of meaning taking place in America. And that crisis of meaning is heavily linked to a decline in religious observance.” While many blame drugs, alcohol, and technology, Shapiro seems to find misplaced blame:
In other words, people need meaning and purpose in life. Our focus on materialism from both the political right and left… Americans, particularly young Americans, increasingly don’t feel that their lives have purpose. This isn’t a problem that can be cured by redistributing Xboxes. This is a problem of the soul.
Many in the church and ministry world would find an agreement that our youngest generation struggles deeply with purpose and meaning. I believe that this shows how deeply they feel the need from their Creator but often don’t understand it.
Generation Z is the most ethnically diverse generation. They’re the largest generation in American history covering 27% of the US population. They grew up with technology - the internet, social media, never known a world without Wi-Fi, Google, or smartphones. They spend between hours a day absorbing media. They already have a spending power of $143 billion. They grew up in a post-September 11, 2001 world. Where they feel the US is always at war and they live under a cloud of terrorism. School violence has reached new extremes and frequency. The economic recession has shaped their family experience. Now they are navigating a global pandemic.
But, Gen Z also wants to make a difference in the world. They’re keenly aware of social justice issues concerning poverty, human trafficking, refugees, racism, and more. They want opportunities to have an impact and they’re likely to become generous leaders.
This is the generation that is deeply disconnected from religion. So, how do we reach them? They are the future of America and the world. It is the Church’s responsibility to make the difference. We know that Gen Z is online and connected to the world through their phones. We will need to utilize technology to foster engagement with an unengaged and anxious generation.