I recently had the privilege of sitting in on a meeting led by a social media expert. The purpose of the meeting was to help people like me understand at a broad level the things that make Generation Z unique. Generation Z is the one coming behind the Millennials and could include people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, depending on whom you ask. In fact, the title “Generation Z” is a matter of debate.
I was particularly drawn to the parts of the talk focused on how people of this generation learn and some of the dangers they face.
When it comes to learning, members of Generation Z:
- Are graphically driven.
- Dislike lectures, tests and classrooms.
- Are constant multi-taskers.
- Value instant feedback.
- Generally do not take the time to determine the reliability of information.
- Thrive in collaborative environments.
- Are wired for fast delivery of content.
- Desire a customized education experience.
I’m finding it to be a helpful exercise to think through how this generation’s characteristics might impact the small group experience. For example, consider the following questions:
- What role can art or video-driven storytelling play in a small group?
- Are the days of a lecture-driven educational environment on Sunday mornings in their twilight?
- Are we equipping group leaders to confidently and comfortably lead a generation of people who will talk as much as they listen in a small group?
- If this upcoming generation generally does not take the time to determine the reliability of information, how will they respond to the authority and inerrancy of the Bible?
- Are there resources that allow churches to customize their discipleship materials for this generation? (For some assistance, check out smallgroup.com and discipleshipincontext.com, LifeWay’s excellent resources for customization.)
Time will tell, but the time is now for thinking through how Generation Z will change your group ministry.
Rob Tims has been married to Holly for nearly 15 years. They have four children: Trey (10), Jonathan (9), Abby (1), and Luke (born April 10). He has served in the local church for 20 years as a children’s pastor, student pastor, and senior pastor. He currently serves on a team at LifeWay Christian Resources that develops customized Bible studies for groups and teaches two classes for Liberty University School of Divinity Online. He is the author of the book Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt.