Generation Z is a generation like we have never seen before. Their lives are marked by the digital age that they have grown up in.
Gen Z, those born from 1996-2015, are the students who make up our everyday ministries.
If you have worked with students recently, you are well aware of how academically driven the majority of the students are.
I have had multiple students over the past few years who have graduated with 30-40 hours of college credit. They are taking 32 different Advanced Placement classes and stressed beyond measure because they don’t think that they are doing enough.
This is hard for me to comprehend as it took me about three years in college to get the same number of hours they are earning in high school.
In 2018, the Barna Group released a staggering research study illustrating the priorities of Gen Z compared to preceding generations. The previous generations (Millennials, Gen X and Boomers) considered family and religion as the top priorities in their lives.
In the study, Generation Z placed both family and religion near the bottom of importance and interests while they prized professional and educational achievement.
Gen Z has de-prioritized the family unit and has shifted their focus to achieving success of their future.
This does not mean that all students in our ministries have completely disregarded their families and have become focused solely on their success in the academic world. It does mean that we must be alert of the trend that is taking place.
We as student ministers can help our students realize that grades, friends, sports, band, etc., are all important but will all eventually fade.
We must continually be reminding them of the Gospel and that no matter how hard we work, there is nothing that we can do to save ourselves.
The “Jesus +Works” mentality thrives in cultures where we are focused only on personal success and how much we can gain by our hard work.
The Gospel proclaims, “It is finished.” There is nothing that we can do to earn salvation or favor with God. This is quickly becoming a foreign concept in a society that is driven by academic achievement.
Our job does not change. We must continue to boldly preach the Gospel to all students and to help guide them along their journey.
Generation Z is a special and world-changing generation. I am glad that we get to come alongside these world changers and watch as God sets a fire in their hearts.
I believe that God will use Generation Z for things that we can’t even dream of at the moment.
(All stats and information gathered from https://www.barna.com/research/gen-z-questions-answered/)
Spencer Jones is minister to high school students at First Baptist Church Trussville.