Guest post from Pastor Ryan Jantz
Middle School and Communications Pastor
Who is Generation z?
Is there any hope for the next generation? Can teenagers be trusted? Is there any good that is coming out of generation Z? Are we even making an impact? The resounding answer is YES! Let me tell you why... The next generation is already leading the way and doing incredible things in our world, in our community, in their schools, and in our church. I LOVE that I get to be a part of it and have a front row seat to what God is doing in their lives. Are you praying for them? Are you encouraging them? Are you aware of what is going and getting behind them?
Yes, teenagers will mess up, let you down, and do stupid things. If you are a parent of one you know this well. But I think a lot of the time teenagers are stereotyped, short changed and underestimated in a number of ways. Alvin Reid has adapted the work of Howe and Strauss in his book "Raising the Bar" and has outlined 10 ways today’s teenagers are blowing up the stereotypes. This list was written with millenials in mind, but I see each of these characteristics still holding true in Generation Z today.
1. They’re not pessimists, they’re optimists. The sad truth is that it is actually adults that tend to be more pessimistic. Teenagers still have a positive outlook on the future and believe they can make a difference.
2. They’re not self-absorbed, they’re cooperative team players. They are committed to community, projects, and teams and have grown up on cartoons that are all about teamwork.
3. They’re not distrustful, they accept authority. Studies show that the people teens most look to for answers is still their parents. Parents and adults, you play the most vital role in continuing to shape teenagers lives. But once they leave for college their peers dethrone you as the most influential.
4. They’re not rule breakers, they’re rule followers. Crime in all sorts of categories for teenagers is down over the last ten years. They desire to do what’s right and are looking for people to cheer them on.
5. They’re not neglected, they’re watched over. Broken homes are on the rise but this generation’s parents show a greater concern for their children than ever before.
6. They’re not racist, they’re color-blind. Churches where everyone is the same are going to have a hard time keeping youth. Students are very interested in diversity and embrace differences.
7. They’re not stupid, they’re very bright. Because of technology, the internet, and resources that are available today our teenagers are some of the smartest that the world has ever seen. When they put their mind to something they can accomplish unbelievable things.
8. They have not given up on progress, they believe in the future. Volunteerism is on the rise amongst teens. They are concerned about the environment, and the impoverished and they understand what they do now has implications on the future.
9. They’re not unmotivated, they simply want to be challenged. In school we try to reach the lowest common denominator even though the majority of students will rise to an Academic challenge if given the opportunity. The sad thing is most churches do this as well with students spiritual lives. Don’t be afraid to set the bar high and give them a challenge!
10. They’re not irreligious, they seek genuine spirituality. Barna has found that 2 out of 3 teenagers are interested in a meaningful relationship with God, yet less than 1/3 are interested in attending a church service. They love Jesus, just maybe not the church.
The bottom line is this: continue to invest in teenagers, believe in teenagers, pray for teenagers, love teenagers, and cheer them on, as they follow Christ, every chance you get!
I love you, I love the students I get to minister to every day, and I love LifeSpring Church!,