Generation Z is the largest generation in the nation. They were born in the 90’s and 2000’s, and the youngest of them are between age 2 and 19. They are the most digitally connected, most savvy in social media, and they are oriented towards experience. They are poised to change America’s values in significant ways, and one of those ways is their impact on Christianity.
Meet Generation Z Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World (Baker Books, 2017) is written to introduce Gen Z to the church at-large and challenge the church to engage this generation being raised outside the church. James Emory White, a pastor and author of this book, says Gen Z has no memory of the Gospel. Many in Gen Z shun religion (all religion), and some suspect Jesus was a myth. White calls the church to be welcoming and approach this generation like St. Paul did on Mars Hill. He suggests the church embrace conversations on the hot topics of the day (such as science, evolution, creation, sexuality, paranormal/occult activities, belief in a God of the universe, etc).
White sounds the alarm (as other writers do) to the fact that the church is in “free-fall,” declining in numbers fast. Combining the decline of the church with the post-Christian culture of Gen Z, he says the church must make radical changes in the way it reaches out (and he presets examples for doing that). One of the great strengths of the book are the discussion questions at the end of every chapter, challenging and raising issues for lay leaders and members to create strategies to reach out to this post-Christian generation. He uses many examples from the culture to inform his audience. He uses the Bible with many passages to support his outreach to his own congregation (all of his sermons to Gen Z are available). He is positive about what the church can do to become what he calls “counter-cultural.” He has a young congregation filled with Gen Z youth. He is a voice offering hope against the tide of anxiety in the church today. While he is not Lutheran, he teaches Jesus to many who are not listening but who seek meaning and to make differences in the world today. We can learn from him and others how to become a blessing and a beacon to Generation Z.
(One Minute, from Rev. Ron Rehrer, Counselor for Church Workers, ph: 949.433.5182; email:firstname.lastname@example.org)