For years now the church has been focusing on reaching Millennials. This is not a bad thing, as they are now the largest generation in the working force, but what about Generation Z? Generation Z, also known as iGeneration, Homeland Generation, Centennials, and Post-Millennials, is on pace to surpass my Millennial Generation in population very soon.
So who is Generation Z? They are those born from around 1997 or 1998 through today. They are the first generation to ever grow up with technology at their fingertips. You see 5 year olds with iPhone’s who can use them better than many adults. They are infatuated with the new apps like Snapchat and Instagram. But WHO are these people in Generation Z? Millennials, like myself, are often labeled as entitled and selfish. So what is the “defining” characteristic of Generation Z?
To put it as simply as I can, Generation Z is all about authenticity. Which is why they push so hard against those of us in previous generations. Because those of us ahead of them like to hide behind facades. We put up pretty fences around the outside and fake it till we make it. And Gen Z can smell our in-authenticity from a mile away. When they do not see us as real and authentic, they do not feel they can trust us and therefore hide from us as well. While “finstagrams” have many more underlying issues, one purpose of them is for their friends to be able to see the users “real self” while their regular Instagram has the pretty bow and wrapping on the outside.
This is also why many in Gen Z are turning from the church or latching on to other groups. They often times do not see the human side of the church and therefore either see it as an ideal they cannot live up to or something they cannot trust because it must be fake. While we as church leaders should not share our deepest and darkest secrets weekly from the stage, there is something biblical about transparency. It is not Sunday morning confessional, but who would want to follow a leader who cannot understand them? That is the most beautiful thing about our God, is it not? Not only did he create and love us, but he stepped INTO creation and lived amongst men and even died on a cross, understanding the deepest parts of humanity through a death that he could not otherwise understand.
While I do not always do the best of this, I try to remain authentic and transparent in my ministry and sometimes I fall short and sometimes I share too much. But that shows my flaws as a human. So how can we partner in this as a church? I will write more upcoming about the need to reach this younger generation, but for now I want to leave you with this.