Meet Generation Z by James Emery White, has made a profound impact on me recently.
The elder and strategic leadership teams at Gateway Church have read this and are incorporating many of his thoughts and conclusions into our ministry philosophy.
As the first truly post-Christian generation, and numerically the largest, Generation Z will be the most influential religious force in the West and the heart of the missional challenge facing the Christian church. (pp. 11-12)
If the heart of the Christian mission is to evangelize and transform culture through the centrality of the church, then understanding that culture is paramount. (p. 12)
We are truly dealing with a new phenomenon in our culture today related to how people understand and perceive the church and Scripture in general. The rise of the Nones in the United States is growing at an alarming rate. White states that,
A recent survey of thirty-five thousand Americans by the Pew Research Center found that the rise of the “nones” has grown to encompass 23 percent of America’s adults. (p. 11)
Almost 1 our of every 4 adults Americans claim no religious affiliation at all. This means that our approach to evangelism must change. We can no longer approach people with the assumption they have at least a small basis of religious understanding.
White goes on to say:
As the first five centuries hammered out Christology and later generations tackled everything from the Holy Spirit to revelation, ours is the generation that will be forced to examine and elucidate the doctrine of humanity in ways that confront both changing morals and new technological frontiers. (p. 20)
We must become students of culture. We must understand the real issues that people far from Christ are dealing with if we are going to reach them with the Good News of the Gospel. That means we must leave the comfy confines of our churches and Bible studies and actually interact intentionally and authentically with people who do not think and act like we do. This is no longer an option (I do not think that it ever was), but a mandate if we are going to be a light in today’s culture.
What does this look like?
When was the last time you interacted with someone, through a spiritual discussion, who’s views of Jesus were different than yours?
- When was the last time you placed yourself in a context where you felt uncomfortable with the soul purpose of being a light for Christ?
- When was the last time you engaged in an open and honest conversation about spiritual things were you sought to understand and not merely be understood?
- When was the last time you researched an aspect of our present culture that was confusing to you or in direct conflict with your value system?
- When was the last time you prayed for that sub-culture of people in our culture whose paradigm of life is counter to yours?
The list could go on and on, but here this is a start. Will you start today?