Influence

 the shape of leadership

The Diversity of Generation Z

Effectively ministering to the young people of today

George P Wood on April 20, 2018

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This past January, Barna Group published a blockbuster report about America’s newest demographic cohort — Generation Z.

Born from 1999 to 2015, Generation Z is larger than previous generations and more diverse in terms of ethnicity and race, religion, and sexuality and gender:

  • 48 percent is non-Caucasian.
  • 34 percent is agnostic, atheist, or “None” in terms of religious affiliation.
  • 33 percent claim that gender is primarily based on what a person feels like.
Do your leaders know how to disciple people whose understanding of sexuality and gender is at odds with biblical teaching?

That last statistic correlates with three others: 69 percent of Generation Z believes it is either “definitely” or “probably” acceptable for someone “to be born one gender and feel like another.” Forty-two percent believes it is acceptable for someone “to change their body to become another gender.” And 12 percent identify their sexual orientation in non-heterosexual terms.

Given this diversity, Generation Z places a high value on tolerance.

“Gen Z teens do not like to make people feel bad,” according to Barna. “Their collective aversion to causing offense is the natural product of a pluralistic, inclusive culture that frowns on passing judgment that might provoke negative feelings in the [person being] judged.”

Each of these forms of diversity presents unique challenges to ministry. Does your church know how to communicate cross-culturally? Does it know how to evangelize people without Christian backgrounds? Do your leaders know how to disciple people whose understanding of sexuality and gender is at odds with biblical teaching?

In the years to come, the effectiveness of your ministry to Generation Z will depend on how you answer these questions.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2018 edition of Influence magazine.

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