I had the honor of speaking at C3 Church this past Sunday in a Family Values series about Gen Z and the younger generations.
Here are some generational facts:
Gen Z: Born 1996-2015
Millennials: Born 1977 - 1995
Gen X: Born 1965-1976
Baby Boomers: Born 1946 – 1964
Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before
We have 5 generations all living during our current time period.
Gen Z is a generation of first. They are bringing in new realities that we have never seen before.
They are the 1st generation:
That doesn’t need adults for information. They have google. (But they need us for interpretation.)
That can broadcast every thought and emotion in real-time.
That has external stimuli at their fingertips 24/7.
That is in social contact at all times and yet struggles with isolation. (We can be so connected yet disconnected at the same time, struggling to connect with people.)
To learn more from a portable device than a class.
That endures the same anxiety levels as someone in the psychiatric ward in the 1950s.
They say that 2 out of 3 in this generation are leaving or have already left the church and are twice as likely (than any other generation) to become atheists.
While most people throughout history have made Jesus Christ Lord of their lives before the age of 21, only 3% of this generation read their bibles.
Since 2020, this generation has taken the brunt of isolation, confusion, chaos, and even covering up their faces.
The world can look at this and say, “we have a problem, “ but you know God always speaks differently than the world.
He speaks life and hope, and He doesn’t say we have a problem. He says We have an opportunity.
As the Church of Jesus Christ, we have an opportunity to make a huge impact in this generation and for God to get all the glory.
I am so burdened for this generation that I talk with student leaders at other churches and do research. We have even been studying Gen Z and how to reach them this last month in CLI.
They are compared a lot to Nehemiah’s day.
During Nehemiah’s day, the children of Israel were taken into Babylonian captivity. (the Babylonian captivity was the last story in the Old Testament) It was a 70 year period, and Israel was decimated.
It gives us a modern-day picture of our country and our world. Walls were torn down. Walls were the symbols of systems, values, and traditions decimated.
Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the King of Babylon, the modern-day Iraq, Iran area.
He had favor with the King, and he had appealed. I want to go home, and I want to rebuild my country, and the King granted his request.
I am praying that the spirit of Nehemiah jumps on all of us.
Human nature is to sit back and blame. Blame the generations, blame the government, blame blame blame. And just sit back and watch.
Or we can be proactive like Nehemiah and say, I want to rebuild, let me be a part of rebuilding.
After I looked things over I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember that the Lord our God is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
We all have a role to play in fighting for this generation, not just parents, even if you’re 12, 21, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or 80’s.
This generation wants us to fight for them.
One of the churches we are in relationship with and have been talking with is Church of the Highlands, and they did a survey of hundreds of students and asked them this question,
“I wish my parents knew _____________________________.”
I wanted to share a few from their survey.
Even though my actions don’t always show it, I desperately want to please them.
How much I love them even though I don’t always say it.
How much I treasured their advice even when I acted like I couldn’t care less.
My dad knew how much I loved holding his hand even when I would act like it embarrassed me in front of my friends.
When they wouldn’t let me date a guy, and I acted mad, I was really thankful they were fighting for me.
Instead of threatening to punish me, I need them to do it.
When I saw them fight all the time, it really messed me up.
Their words impact me more than any others. Things they don’t remember saying have changed my life. (for the good & for the bad)
I wish I could be open with them about my mistakes.
The evils I face every day.
The fear I hide behind my rebellion.
How hard it is to stay pure.
Can you hear the cry of - Be involved in my life!
I want to be a Nehemiah, and I want all of us to be Nehemiah’s to rebuild this generation.
So what can we do?
Three things we can do:
Pray for this generation.
Our kids need to hear us pray and see us pray.
Pray for them to fear and show reverence to God.
Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
We want our kids to be wise.
Psalm 34:11 (NIV)
Come my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
With the fear of the Lord comes riches, favor, and blessing. All those things we want for our kids and their future, and we are trying to accomplish it with worldly things (sports, clothes, relationships, popularity, power), but it comes with a fear of the Lord.
Pray for them to be surrounded with divine favor.
Psalm 5:12 (NIV)
Surely, Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.
We want our children to know that it is not them but God’s favor opening doors for them.
We want God to work in their life supernaturally, so the only way to explain it is God did it. It is because of His favor, and they will know it, making them love Him more.
Pray for God to bring them godly friends and godly influences.
You show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.
Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
They can be sharpened for good or bad.
2. Prioritize Church
Our kids need us to take them to church consistently. They need to see us serving and loving church, especially dads.
Not online. It’s not the same.
We don’t need a 30-minute sermon. We need a hug in the lobby, a high-five, a place to serve others, and worship.
When you are discouraged, you need to be in an environment that will get you clapping, engaging, connecting with people, and maybe even jumping up and down! You can’t get that in your house by yourself.
Jesus went to church, so it’s time to come back to church. And bring your kids.
Luke 4:16 (NIV)
Jesus went Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
We are living swervingly all over the place.
So let’s pray and prioritize.
Let’s trust God that if we make church a priority in our lives and the lives of our kids, He will work, open doors, meet them there, and develop the relationship.
3. Participate in the Development of the Younger Generation.
Help develop someone younger than you.
If you are 15, serve in our kid's ministry.
If you’re 22, lead a group of high school girls.
If you’re a parent, be involved and develop others.
There is a call on all of us to live a generational life.
Psalm 145:4 (NLT) (One generation tells the next.)
Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.
Titus talks about the older women teaching the younger women.
2 Timothy 3:14 (NIV)
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.
Take what you have learned and pass it on.
Be an example to them.
They don’t need you to be smart. They need you to be consistent.
They are watching you, so is what you’re saying true, or is it just a thing you do? Follow me as I follow Christ.
They don’t need a sage on the stage. Instead, they need a guide by their side, showing them the way to walk.
Titus 2:6-7 (NIV)
Similarly, encourage the younger men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good.
Dad’s you need to set an example.
Be available for them.
You don’t need to know the Bible. You just simply say, “ If you need me, call.” Set aside time for your kids. Get dinner or coffee.
I used to take Caleb to piano lessons and then get lunch with him. Get breakfast with Caroline or dinner with Gloria. I’ve taken mission trips with each one of them.
Psalm 90:12 (TLB)
Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.
This isn’t about counting your days. It’s about making your days count. Life is short, but eternity is long.
Be positive about them.
I was not a perfect parent, and we don’t have the perfect story, but we are not the standard. God’s Word is the standard.
We need to speak to who they can become.
Let’s make this our new line: I know this is what you did, but it is not who you are.
Romans 4:17 (NIV)
(Abraham) is our father in the sight of God, in who he believed - the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
They know what they did. They don’t need to be berated. Instead, they need us to speak life and hope into who they can become.
They need us to fight for them!
I am praying for each of us, asking for the spirit of Nemeiah to fall on us, that we would have a heart to rebuild this generation. So that we would not lose a generation, but we would see all people come to make Jesus Christ Lord of their life.”
Faith for Exiles - David Kinnaman
Faith for Exiles Book - David Kinnaman & Mark Matlock