Sep 23, 2015

Generation Z...What You Need to Know to Reach Them

Today's kids have been tagged Generation Z.  The oldest were born just before the turn of the Millennium.

They've also been labeled Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives, Socratics, Gen Next, Post Gen, and Plurals.  But Generation Z seems to be the label that has stuck.

Generation Z makes up 25% of the U.S. population and by 2020 will account for 40% of all consumers.  Understanding them is critical if churches want to reach them.

Here's some "need to knows." 

They were too young to remember 9/11, but have grown up in a world of political and financial turmoil.  This is causing them to be cautious with their money.  

They are the first generation of true digital natives.  They spend an average of 7 hours 38 minutes a day with digital media.  They've never known anything else.  

Gen Z is the most diverse generation in the U.S.  55% are Caucasian, 24% are Hispanic, 14% are African-American, 4% are Asian, and 4% are mixed race or other.
Children's ministries that reach Gen Z will be a reflection of their diversity.
Compared to the previous generation, Gen Y, they are smarter, safer and more mature.  They're aware that an education is extremely valuable.
Children's ministries that disciple Gen Z must provide strategic, focused teaching pathways. 
They want to change the world and are keen to volunteer.  Stats show that 60% of them want to make an impact in the world compared to 39% of Gen Y.
Children's ministries that disciple Gen Z will give them opportunities to serve and make an impact now instead of waiting until they are adults.
They don't have short attention spans after all.  Instead, they have 8-second filters.  Gen Z has grown up in a world where their options are limitless, but their time is not.  Having a limited amount of time to assess whether something is worthy of their attention causes them to quickly sort through information.  They shift quickly to locate the most relevant information and entertainment.  
Children's ministries that want to get past this filter and win Gen Z's attention will have to provide them with engaging and immediately beneficial experiences.  Those who don't will likely see their attempt drowned out in the midst of the messaging noise that is coming at Gen Z.
When Gen Z does find something worthy of their attention, they can become intensely committed and focused.  The question is, "Will we present God's Word in a manner that captivates their attention?"

Gen Z has been labeled "screen addicts" but in actuality they are brand managers.  They are under pressure to manage both their personal and professional brands on social media.  This is where all their peers are and where they have important conversations.  They have to fit in and stand out at the same time.  As they seek validation and acceptance through social media, they strive to create the ideal online image.
Children's ministry that effectively connect with Gen Z will use social media as one of the primary methods.
Gen Z has been strongly shaped by their individualistic, self-reliant Gen X parents and are committed to avoiding the mistakes of the meandering Gen Yer's.  They want to be known as hard workers and seek to plan ahead.
It is vital that we recognize the unique characteristics of Gen Z.  Without empathy and understanding, children's ministries will risk being filtered into obscurity.  We must meet them where they are, not where we think they should be.

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