Before you poo poo this video and say to yourself that this person does not reflect any generation Z person that I know, watch the first 1:20 again. What they say, in my opinion, perfectly sums up what is going on in the very heart and soul of this young generation.
In fact, what they share about is right in line what my 11-year-old, white, suburban daughter choir nerd thinks about herself, her friends, and the world.
I think we are fooling ourselves if we don’t take a good, hard look at this worldview and work hard to understand it, empathize it, find the beauty in, and also find the unique way the gospel is going to impact them.
Our kids are growing up in a world with fewer rules and standards:
And this is actually not a good thing. We have been told that rules and standards end up leaving people out and that it leads to hate and bullying. In fact, take a little gut check and imagine talking to a young person about the rules, about the ways they “should” grow up and the roles they should take. Think of the classic stereotypes and how much our students want nothing to do with them. In fact, they get more street cred for living as far outside the norms as possible. To the point, the majority lives outside the norms.
What is alarming is that every social science experiment shows that this worldview and perspective crushes the souls of humans. When fences are taken away from playgrounds, kids limit themselves, when boundaries are clear, they maximize the space for play. We need to know where we fit and where we stack up. It is an innate human need, even a base animal need. And without knowing that we have to anchor.
It is the lack of rules, boundaries, expectations, definitions that is actually crushing the souls of our kids. That is the real reason loneliness, anxiety, and depression are defining the internal life of this generation.
So what are we supposed to do?
That is the ultimate question. Dropping rules on them is probably not the way to go. In fact, we have worked for a generation to move past behavior modification. However, it is incumbent upon those in the church to live more fully into the life Christ calls us to.
Jesus gives us rules, boundaries, expectations, and benchmarks. These are needed. He also loves us based on none of it and has made a way back into an intimate relationship when we don’t measure up. (Man, talk about the full circle on this blog)
We will not be able to debate this generation into the family of God. However, we can model what a life in Christ looks like. And a community of people living within the boundaries will actually bring safety and comfort for the kids who have none. It is counter-intuitive, but I think it is the way forward.
These are just some initial thoughts as I work out my seminar these next three weeks.
Below is a link to the Google Drive folder that has my notes and power points. You are welcome to look at them, use them, push back on them. Please keep the conversation going. Because this is the brave new world for us youth workers. (The rest of Christendom is almost ready to embrace post-modernism and realize the millennial worldview is the shaping paradigm. Good for them, that was really 10 years ago) .
Our ministry is to current 11-18-year-olds, and they are Generation Z, and they need cross-cultural missionaries who will leave the comfort of their worldview and jump both feet into their world so, by God’s grace we can reach some with the good news of Jesus Christ.