Many are starting to write about our kids or in my case, grandkids.
Thom Rainer writes, and I'll editorialize. You have heard a great deal about the 1980-200 generation often called the Millenials. What about the next generation born 2000 to 2020. I call them the Screen generation because they are the ones growing up with iPads and iPhones as the norm, nopt something new. Some folks call them Generation Z
Their birth years are 2001 to 2020. The oldest Gen Zer is 15; the youngest has not yet been born.
We have much to learn about this young generation, but we have learned much already. Church leaders, particularly, need to keep an eye on this generation. There are some fascinating trends taking place.
For now, let’s look at ten things you should know about Gen Z.
- They will be the largest generation in history. Each of their birth years is already a large cohort. By the time 2020 concludes, this generation will include about 82 million people. They will supplant the Millennials who supplanted the Boomers as the largest generation.
- The majority of this generation is non-white. That is a first in the history of the United States.
- Hispanics are the fastest-growing group in Gen Z. It is simply a matter of fertility rates. Hispanic mothers have an average of 2.4 children, compared to black mothers (2.1), and Asian and white mothers (1.8).
- At least one of ten of this generation will marry across ethnic and racial and religious lines. But the number could be higher.
- Homosexual marriage will be embraced as normative. But we cannot tell yet what percentage of Gen Z will be in a homosexual marriage, it's too early for estimates on that.
- Two historic events have shaped Gen Z. Most of them were not born when 9/11 took place, but their parents and others have made the event a part of their lives and insecurities. The second event, the Great Recession, is still a reality though the recession is officially over. Gen Z parents, and thus, their children still feel the impact of a weak jobs economy. (In addition, the fact that President Obama was/is such a dominate figure is significant. THen there are the unseen events going forward.)
- Gen Z will be highly entrepreneurial. They have learned from their parents that you cannot trust an employer to take care of you. It is best to create your own job.
- Gen Z is and will be in church more regularly. I read one study by Joan Hope that noted a big spike in church attendance by Gen Z. My anecdotal observations confirm an increase in Gen Zers church attendance, but I was surprised by the magnitude of the increase in Hope’s study. We will need to monitor this behavioral pattern closely. (Those are Thom Rainer's words. I'm not convinced, and I'm also concerned that people will read this and think, oh we can just keep doing what we are doing and wait for these kids to grow up. Not gonna happen)
- Rapid change is normative for Gen Z. None of us could have imagined the Internet of Things or wearable technology or many other technological trends. They are normative for Gen Z. This generation is accustomed to rapid change. (What does this mean for worship, service, faith formation?)
- Gen Zers prefer personal contact. Yes, they are fully immersed in the Internet and social media, but they really want to have personal interaction. Perhaps it is because of the Internet and social media that they desire personal interaction. (But, careful here, it's not an either/or phenomenon but both/and)
The trends are early. The demographics are breathtaking. And the signs are, to a large extent, hopeful. Let me hear from you about Gen Z. But, this all points to a shift away from institutional structures, which we in the church are too wedded to at this time.