I had the privilege to read Generation Z by James Emery White recently. This book truly was a privilege. I learned quite a bit from his calm and intentional writing style, not to mention the content.

First, I’ll give a quick run-down of the contents of the book. His main thesis is that people under about 26 belong to a new generation, known as “Generation Z,” and that they approach religious matters much different than their predecessors. I’ll bet you could’ve guessed that from the title. What you might not have guessed is that White details how the rise of the nones with the Millennials has exploded with Generation Z to the point that barely half of the US population attends church at all during a year. Some of the more important points are that Generation Z does not have a majority ethnic group, and the most common last name is now Rodriguez – not Smith (Location 513). They use several social media networks, even for research assignments (Location 486). They want to make a difference in the world, and believe that they can (Location 423). Many think of themselves as less than 100% heterosexual (Location 549). They are sexually active, 75% have sexted, with 70% engaging in sexual acts (Location 726).They think that if someone doesn’t outright support a cause, then they must hate those people. In other words, disagreement = hatred and tolerance = affirmation.

The next part of the book details how the church at large has reacted to changing cultural trends since 1900, and suggests that the church plan a new path forward for Generation Z. I’d like to spend the remaining space discussing how I think I can engage Generation Z as a Small Groups/Media Pastor.

Small Groups meet the need for community, or friendships that this generation is desparate for. But they want more than just a once per week meeting. They want to belong to a group that is in touch 24/7 via social media. Small group discussions must be very intentional so that a miscommunication doesn’t cause an offence. Also, feelings will be hurt. The key is to not let the person remove themself from the group.

In Media Ministry we get some good news. Since Generation Z is on multiple platforms for plenty of time a day, we can find them easily. Again, all communication needs to be planned so that people are only offended by the gospel. We don’t need to unintentionally make enemies over things that aren’t of eternal significance. Stay away from politics. Stay away from “You should do_______” statements. Instead, show people what the Bible says, and let them wrestle with God’s word, trusting the Holy Spirit to draw them in. Also, create opportunities for people to engage with posts, and avoid just making informational statements. Point out ways that our church, or Jesus followers, care for people that they disagree with. Post how-to content online to draw them in, since most search for life’s foundational questions online.

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