5 Realities for Generation Z
Deacon Kenny Champagne - May 8, 2023
I recently attended a workshop that was all about Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2018) and Generation Alpha (those born after 2018) and how these generations are communicating and interacting with the world. There were five big takeaways that I’d like to reflect on and consider what these realities might mean for us as the body of Christ.
1. They Are Cause-Driven
40% of young people say they will only join an organization if it values inclusion. 72% of young people say it is important that an organization they join creates space where everyone is safe, welcome, and has equal access to resources. 60% of young people agree that people should be treated equally no matter what it takes. Clearly issues of inclusion, equality, safety, and mental health are at the top of the list of causes for these generations. The church is naturally a cause-driven organization because the gospel calls us to care for our neighbors and creation. The question for us is, how well do we communicate these values and how authentically do we live them out?
2. Social Media is Central
Not surprisingly, these generations are spending more time on social media than ever before. On average, Gen Z spends 4.5 hours on some form of social media (Netflix, Tiktok, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat are the top 5 video sources they watch). Social media is driving their purchasing and they expect “brands” to comment on and engage pop culture events. The church needs to be engaging these spaces and creating content that is of substance and value for young people on these platforms. It is not just about advertising; it is about engaging in community with them.
3. Talking About Anxiety
89% of Gen Z say, “taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health.” Over half of this generation says that COVID had a negative impact on their mental health. They are willing to talk about it. They want to talk about it. They WANT to address the issues and are seeking ways to reduce their anxieties. The church has so much to say about this, but the messaging must be more than praying away the pain or having a deeper faith! How are we encouraging people to find balance and care for their mental well-being? In what ways are we providing mental health support?
4. Music is Deeply Important
71% of this generation say that music is part of their identity. Not only does music provide a release of stress and a way this generation deals with their mental health, but it is also the number one place they seek guidance and support! Music is a BIG part of church! This is great news! But this means the music we play and sing matters! If the music we utilize doesn’t connect with young people, they will go elsewhere. But if we do connect, the impact the music can make is much larger than we might imagine!
5. Community is Found in Video Games
Video games are no longer just for entertainment. With the rise of online gaming, 70% of Gen Z consider themselves gamers and they list video games as the top place they find their sense of community, even more than social media! 83% say video games are a way to escape. This one might be the hardest to wrap our minds around, but we must be asking the question, what do these communities look like and what could this mean for the church?
The thing I find most interesting among these five realities is that the church is wonderfully positioned to address at least three of these areas; causes, mental health, and music. These are the things the church naturally does; we just must consider changing the way we do them or being more intentional about how we do them. Video games and social media might be the harder nuts to crack, but that just means we need to intentionally think outside of the box and invite younger generations into the process as well.
I believe that as we engage these younger generations more and more, we will find that their hearts are actually gospel oriented. They may view the world differently and they may interact within the world differently, but if their heart is for people, their minds are seeking health, and they are only wanting deep and caring communities, then we really aren’t all that different! So, what do you think our first step is? Where do we begin the conversation? And how might God be calling us to new things?
Wondering & praying with you,
Deacon Kenny Champagne