Coming Attractions: Meet Generation Z

I ran across a book title which has piqued my curiosity. It’s called Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World. The Goodreads blurb alone stopped me short:

Move over Boomers, Xers, and Millennials; there’s a new generation–making up more than 25 percent of the US population–that represents a seismic cultural shift. Born approximately between 1993 and 2012, Generation Z is the first truly post-Christian generation, and they are poised to challenge every church to rethink its role in light of a rapidly changing culture.

From the award-winning author of The Rise of the Nones comes this enlightening introduction to the youngest generation. James Emery White explains who this generation is, how it came to be, and the impact it is likely to have on the nation and the faith. Then he reintroduces us to the ancient countercultural model of the early church, arguing that this is the model Christian leaders must adopt and adapt if we are to reach members of Generation Z with the gospel. He helps readers rethink evangelistic and apologetic methods, cultivate a culture of invitation, and communicate with this connected generation where they are.

Pastors, ministry leaders, youth workers, and parents will find this an essential and hopeful resource.

And all this time, I thought my kids born in the mid-90s were officially millennials! Seems I was wrong.

More than this however, is the fact that the differences and overlapping of generations has begun to fascinate me much more in recent years. We tend to assume that generations in families are distinct and easily identifiable, and that may be true now, but it wasn’t always the case.

I was 7 years old when I first became an aunt, so have nieces who are my comrades in 40-somethingness. Many of my nephews and nieces are fellow Gex Xers. That’s basically unheard of today with our delayed family formation and small family sizes, but I can remember being in elementary school with two girls who were the same age, but also niece and auntie.

Because of my unique experience which is only unique in the context of our current reality, I am always intrigued by the different generational labels, and this book by James Emery White is, I hope, an interesting peek at the differences between the current generation of young Christians and the approach to Christian outreach when I was a kid. We’ll see if there is a new, more effective way to share our faith.

When I finish it, I’ll offer my take on whether it’s as helpful a resource as the publisher asserts.


15 thoughts on “Coming Attractions: Meet Generation Z

  1. smkoseki says:

    Chuckling at Z book: Summary: 1) Raise post-Christian generation Z. 2) Must repackage faith to make it more amenable to said PCG? Hell, what a Boomer move! The X Apple don’t fall far from that Tree!

    assume generations may be identifiable but it wasn’t always.

    A lot of this is “generation” thing makes no sense post-Boomer with massive immigration via our ditching of Gen 1:28. Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us.


  2. Elspeth says:

    A lot of this is “generation” thing makes no sense post-Boomer with massive immigration via our ditching of Gen 1:28. Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us.

    True, because we don’t really have a common culture to pass on.

    Something else occurred to me after I wrote this. And it’s that the situation I grew up under (where my young adult sister who WAS married) had a child while I was in 2nd grade wasn’t all that unusual in families like mine.

    My husband for instance,at 46 had a 50-year-old uncle (recently deceased) and has several aunts and uncles in their early to mid 50s.

    In other words, this particular trend of people not becoming grandparents until 60 feeds the widening of generations and also feeds into youth culture to a large degree.

    This is to our detriment.

    As for the book, I’m hopeful that he is going to posit the opposite of what most people expect. Namely, a turn away from post-modern, seeker-sensitive drivel and back to something sound, tried, and true.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Krysta says:

    I think it’s easy to confuse Gen Z and Millenials because most articles seem to. Even Ms. Marvel refers to herself as a Millenials, but she’s Gen Z. But, as you note, the generational distinctions are interesting. I certainly don’t think they can be rigidly defined. What makes someone born in 1990 that different from someone born in 1993? Seems like that Millenial and that Gen Z person would have more in common than two Millenials on opposite ends of the timeline.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. smkoseki says:

    E: not grandparents til 60 feeds widening of gens & youth cult

    I never thought of this. The longer I roll it over, the more it clicks. Close to 3 families w/ 12, 9, 6 kids & it’s strange how it all moves to the next gen…e.g., 12 & 9 have ~20 yr spread but 6 is usually (~10 yr). None have TV so it’s a good test case for size vs youth culture.

    K: gen distinction can’t be rigidly defined. How 1990 different from 1993?

    This only works if the generations are culturally unified and event-impacted. Like Boomers. Don’t work anymore, agreed. No shared culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hearthie says:

    Another reason we have such sharply defined generations (or did, SMK has a very good point about events) is that we don’t live close to family for some of the mid-generation crossing to take place. You don’t HAVE a lot of “range-of-age” meetings.

    No big families in my extended, but if we get together, I’m 15 years younger than my youngest aunt, and 9 years older than my next-oldest cousin. (We dont’ get together, we live in three different states).

    DH’s huge family in Ark, on the other hand, had so many cousins that you could hang out with folks in a 2-3 year age range.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. smkoseki says:

    H: we don’t live close to family for mid-gen crossing

    Again, I’m brain dead; you are 100% right and it’s obvious once you point. Out West more extreme than South/East too; the culture of migration natch feeds youth culture. Stability = Family. Mobility = Youth Culture. And there is a Route 66 boomer joke here waiting to come out…!


  7. Elspeth says:

    Speaking of being event impacted:

    How is it that 9/11/2001 failed to produce a coherent cultural identity?

    I would submit that we had reached the point where an event was unable to be used as a generation marker, because of the widening ideological divide (remember the 2000 election) and all the other factors that we have just discussed.

    Which begs the question (which I probably won’t answer until next month since school has started):

    What is the author of this particular book is going to propose as a blanket way to reach Gen Z with the gospel?


  8. hearthie says:

    Well, I live in the town that my grandparents moved to – on dad’s side. But they only had one child, as did my parents. So, I’m OLD school SoCalGirl. Which impresses the odd OldSchoolCrew but otherwise not useful. People move in and out of this area – and my town in particular – constantly.

    It’s too $$$$$$$$$$$ to live here. One of the *very long list* of reasons I really want to move while the kids are still nominally around the house is so I might conceivably live near grandkids. Unless 19yo decides to take up something extremely lucrative off the bat, that won’t happen here.

    If we move, of course we’re severing the day-to-day connections here, and that’s anticommunity. But at the end of the day? You gotta do whatchagottado. I’ve been over that territory pretty solidly in the past – and I won’t apologize for it. Anyway my folks would move with us and we don’t see DH’s sis all that often.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Elspeth says:

    The fact that your parents will move with you and your DH’s parents are no longer among us mitigates your decision significantly.

    One of the reasons we turned down a few lucrative opportunities for husband over the years is because both of our dads were here.

    We lost both of them in 2016 and 2017 respectively so we could -technically- leave now but 1) our siblings and a vibrant education community are here, and 2) an excellent career opportunity came knocking without us even looking for it. A good name is rather to be chosen rather than great riches…

    Funny thing is that it never occurred to either of our sets of parents (after they bought their homes) to leave for anything other than the most drastic reasons.

    Another stark generational difference.


  10. hearthie says:

    Well, there’s another pig to put on the pile. Rent vs. buy. My folks didn’t buy their home until I was 11.

    I don’t think either sets of my grandparents would have moved, no.

    And I still live in my IL’s house, so there’s THAT. -sighs heavily-

    Liked by 1 person

  11. smkoseki says:

    1) Re: too much $ to live at home, I think Americans are ahistorical to think family formation should just be able to “happen” without parent/relative support. It may have worked well in our prior K-strategy land rich environs but this all seems the past. Hispanics, who are much poorer, are taking over these very rich areas and so seem to have a more effective Darwinian strategy via matriarchy/communal family bonds using teamwork/numbers rather than patriarchal wealth generation. Hey R-strat ain’t my culture at all, but I try to be open to the new reality of “Dad” fading & “state-supported “Mom” ascending.

    2) Re: taking pay cut to live near parents I am bemused to note we flee from both sets of parents/relatives & pay much $$ to do so. Sad but true. Sorry I’m a bit chatty today but it’s a holiday for us and enjoy the new ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. hearthie says:

    Let’s talk about the generation Z/whatever.

    I like SMK’s thought on event, but I think it’s even more a cultural tie. Like, Gen X is marked by cynicism, because we grew up with the Future’s So Bright and got dumped into a recession. Trust Them? Heck to the No. But my kids? other than always having the internet, what do they have in common? Not a lot. Nothing to bind together as a Generation.

    As for evangelizing – we have to give up assuming that 1) the current generation has any Bible knowledge other than memes 2) that sin/judgement is a concept they care about. We need a lot more Jesus and a lot less “this is how you learn to be nice”.

    But – I’ve said that before, have I not?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Elspeth says:

    2) Re: taking pay cut to live near parents I am bemused to note we flee from both sets of parents/relatives & pay much $$ to do so.

    I suppose turning down offers could be considered a pay cut, LOL. Of course, husband and I were born to parents who were of the generation where duty and obligation were not dirty words or chains, but honorable things to strive for. Our parents weren’t boomers.

    Well, my stepmom was, but my dad wasn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

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