“the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever…They are the up-agers, with influence beyond their years. They are the tweens, the teens, the youth and young adults of our global society. They are the early adopters, the brand influencers, the social media drivers, the pop-culture leaders. They comprise nearly 2 billion people globally, and they don’t just represent the future, they represent they’re creating it.”
Sunday mornings are the highlight of my week. Particularly the chunk of time between 930 and 1130am. Like all good times, it flies by, but I do my best to let myself really take it all in, because this chunk of time contains some of my most precious memories. Not only is it the culmination of a whole week’s hard work coming together in one great, big, loud, messy, crazy mash-up of bible teaching and worship (and craft sometimes)– but it is also the time I get to spend listening to the kids and hang out with them –hearing about their weeks and what they got up to.
My absolute favourite thing to do with the kids is to ask them to tell me the biggest thing that happened to them over the last week. Sometimes the answers are tough, like, “We had to throw dirt on Poppy’s ‘coffum’ and Daddy cried,” or “I got left at school because mummy forgot me,” , and sometimes its something great like, “I got to ride in Nana’s car and eat fish and chips,” or “I stayed up until ten o’clock last night,” and “Dad only fast-forwarded one scene in the whole Star Wars movie and I watched all the rest and wasn’t scared.” I love hearing these stories because it reminds me that children’s worlds are made up of entirely different moments than mine. I hardly ever stop to appreciate riding in my nana’s car as the pivotal moment in my week, and if my dad fast-forwarded a scene in my movie I’d kindly ask him to stop sitting on the remote. But kids see things in an incredibly different way to adults- things that we adults so often don’t even notice can be incredible learning moments in children’s lives, and if we don’t stop to ask them what they are or how they feel, we can miss a chance to discuss their biggest hopes, fears, dreams and thoughts. My favourite thing to do with kids is simply listen to them, because they aren’t limited in what they will tell you by what they think you might want to hear. They simply tell you what’s on their mind and it’s beautiful.
The current generation aged 4-18 right now is known as ‘Generation Z’. According to research, globally there are 2 billion of them, and they are known as
“the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation ever…They are the up-agers, with influence beyond their years. They are the tweens, the teens, the youth and young adults of our global society. They are the early adopters, the brand influencers, the social media drivers, the pop-culture leaders. They comprise nearly 2 billion people globally, and they don’t just represent the future, they’re creating it.”
This generation is consistently being told by society, media, their families and each other that they can take on the world. That it is just waiting for them to step up and change it, and that they have the power to do so. And they believe it. Children of today don’t just watch things happen, they make things happen. Take ‘planking’, for example. One person, one time, decided it was funny to lie on something precarious, and before we knew it, planking was a fad, and every young person was trying to find something more precarious than the last to lie on and upload it to Youtube/Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat. Say what you want about the ‘bubble wrapped’ generation – the kids of today know how to make things happen. They are the ‘movers and the shakers’ of culture today.
Consider the impact of that fact. A lot of people will look at Generation Z and write them off as ‘reckless’ young people (YOLO) who have ‘no regard for authority’ and are ‘entitled’ and ‘spend all their time looking at screens’. But they are so much more than this. These kids, on average, actually do use technology up to 10 hours a day. They average over 5 billion searches on google 4 billion on youtube each day. These kids are connected, and aware, and involved. It is estimated that 1 in 2 Generation Z kids will have a university education in their life time, work 17 jobs and live in 15 homes. They are a generation of ‘try and see for ourselves’ and have emphasis on the ‘why and how’ of processes in their world, rather than the ‘what’. They are a generation ready to take on any cause they are passionate about, and WE are the ones called to help them see what is worthy of that passion.
The leaders and influencers of Generation Z have a big job. God calls those who lead to ‘train up’ and ‘instruct’ the children in our lives. If this generation is truly going to rise up and change the world – if they really are the most connected, educated and sophisticated of all generations so far- then we need to be equipping them for what lies ahead. And the best way to do that is with the Gospel. The children of our world are showing us they are ready to stand for what they believe in – so what are we teaching them to believe?
We need to be intentional about equipping the young people of this world about the Gospel. About it’s power, God’s grace, Jesus radical ways and His passionate love and grace. These are the things that Generation Z can hold on to and use their connections to share. If we are intentional about equipping children with the Gospel of Christ now – then the influence they have on this world will be for Jesus. Imagine the impact they could have on the world if they knew that this world is not about them – but about Jesus, and that their cause is to spread His gospel, and His grace. The time to start showing them is now. We need to show children that the only cause truly worth ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ about is Jesus Christ. If the children of this world truly do have the power to change it – then lets see it changed so that it is truly ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven’. Jesus taught radical changes when He came to earth, and equipping the generation of children today with these lessons can have an incredible impact on our world.
Next time you have the chance to listen to a child tell you about the biggest thing in their week – take the time to invest in them by listening to what they have to say. When we show our interest in their lives and in their big moments, they will begin to trust us enough to listen to what we have to teach them. And when we teach them the Gospel and equip them with the gripping truth of the Gospel, we will really see the ‘movers and the shakers’ make their mark on this world for the better.All research and statistics courtesy of mccrindle.com.au and generationz.com.au
Footnotes: http://generationz.com.au • GenerationZ.com.au is an initiative of McCrindle. Here at McCrindle we have a passion for making research and data accessible and user-friendly.
Post date: 23/06/2014 • Post Author: Sally Contessi