Millennials have gotten a lot of attention by media, sociologists and churches. And for good reason. The millennial generation is larger than both the baby boomer generation and Generation X.
But if you’re involved in student or collegiate ministry, it’s time to stop thinking just about millennials and consider Generation Z. This is the generation after millennials which started being born around 1995-1997. This means that most college freshmen and sophomores are Generation Z and all high school students are part of this group.
So, who makes up Generation Z? Here are five characteristics that will help you understand them.
- They are large.
Gen Z will be the biggest generation in U.S. history. Size alone means we need to pay attention to them.
- They are diverse.
They will be the most diverse generation the U.S. has ever had. Due to immigration and changing birth rates, the U.S. will soon be a majority-minority country with no one racial group comprising more than 50 percent of the population. To be relevant, our churches and college ministries will need to reflect this diversity.
- They are technologically gifted.
Members of Gen Z are social media natives. They are very comfortable with multiple screens and global communication. They are exposed to a lot of information and can check facts while you’re talking. They didn’t adapt to technology; they grew up in an internet world.
- They are secular.
The Z Generation was born in a secular age. Regions vary, but these kids were born in an age where faith is contested and norms change rapidly. Christian culture is a mystery, not a memory, and many build meaning by authenticating their own individual niche.
- They are educated.
Most of these students are focused on education. As more and more people plan to attend college, Gen Z could see as many as half of its population receive a college degree (up from 1 in 4 for Gen X and 1 in 3 for millennials). This is good news for churches with a college focus. But we have to be ready.
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