Interesting Info on Gen Z

photo credit: AdamCohn Sharing a Mobile Phone via photopin (license)

This week I’ve read a few interesting things about Gen Z.

Generation Z is made up of those who were born 1999 to 2015; they are today’s preteens and teenagers.

A lot has been written about Millenials (born 1984 to 1998) as they are the largest generation in the US workforce (35% of today’s labor force).

There were two different sources for the information and they give two different snapshots of this generation.  The first is a podcast by Pro Church Tools, which focused on how Gen Z interacts with through social media.  The second source is the Barna Group, which has done some research on the beliefs of Gen Z.

Pro Church Tools talked about how Gen Z uses social media differently than previous generations.  The main distinction they made was that  Gen Z uses social media for one to one interactionswhere previous generations use social media for one to many interactions.

So, where previous generations will post something to Facebook for everyone to see (and to generate more friends), Gen Z will use Messaging Apps, including Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram DMs, along with others.

After I heard the podcast, I sent a message to over a dozen of the high school students in our student ministry.  I asked which Messaging App they used most frequently.  In the quick survey I took, Snapchat seemed to be the most used, along with Instagram and texting.  How Gen Z communicates is a little different from other generations and it is helpful to know if we want to communicate effectively.

The Barna Group study focused on what Gen Z believes.  While there were a number of stats shared, these two were highlighted:

  • 24% of Gen Z strongly agrees that what is morally right and wrong changes over time based on society
  • 21% of Gen Z strongly believes sex before marriage is wrong – though they are mostly on par with other generations, with Gen X being the most conservative (26%)

While there is much more in the Barna study, I think those stats give an interesting look into Gen Z.  The fact that nearly one-quarter of the generation thinks that what is right and wrong changes based on society should create some interesting conversations.  If right and wrong is a sliding scale, it could have some pretty unique implications.

While I think we need to be careful not to stereotype people based on their age and not everyone who was born in a certain generation reflects those characteristics, it is good to have a sense of where our students are.

Barna does note that they only included teens 13 to 18 in their study.

Click on the links above to read all the information that Pro Church Tools and Barna provide.  If you work with students or are a parent of Gen Z, it is helpful information to have.

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Want Better SAT Scores? // Try Family Meals

All parents want their children to do well in school. When it comes to moving onto higher education, high school students have to take the ACT or SAT. Some students take the test more than once to try to raise their score. Others do practice tests online or attend classes designed to prepare them for success on the test. I received an email today that pointed to another key to success on the test: Family Dinners.

Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders referenced a couple of studies which show the impact of families having regular meals together. At one point in the post Elmore wrote this: “Students who enjoyed talking over a meal with family members also enjoyed rising scores on standardized tests.”

I did some quick googling about family meals and while there are other factors at work, the general consensus from research is that there is benefit from families that have regular meal times together.

While studying for tests is a plus and there is value in taking prep courses, there is also merit to regular family meals. A study from Cornell University said, “Most studies have found that medium and high levels (i.e., 3 or more days per week) of frequent meals yield the most positive benefits for children.”

The Cornell study concluded with three suggestions:

1. Set a goal to have regular family meals at least three times per week, if possible.

2. Remember the benefits of consistent family mealtimes

3. Don’t forget, quality of family meals is just as important as quantity.

The research on family meals shows that regular family meals impact relationships within the family, increase academic achievement, help with overall health and nutrition among other things. Take some time during the week to sit together with your family and share a meal. While juggling busy schedules can be a challenge, regular meal times show a lot of benefit.

Conforming Jesus to our Own Image

facesofjesusDuring the summer months, as I was ordering some small group curriculum from The Youth Cartel, I picked up a copy of Jen Bradbury’s book The Jesus Gap. I just started digging into it this week and am intrigued to move farther through the chapters.

The book takes a look at what teens believe about Jesus and it is based on both research and the author’s experience in working with students. In the opening chapters, Bradbury references a 2010 article from Christianity Today written by Scot McKnight. He writes about how people view Jesus and His conclusion is that we as people conform Jesus to our own image.

“Instead, if given to enough people, the test will reveal that we all think Jesus is like us. Introverts think Jesus is introverted, for example, and, on the basis of the same questions, extroverts think Jesus is extroverted. Spiritual formation experts would love to hear that students in my Jesus class are becoming like Jesus, but the test actually reveals the reverse: Students are fashioning Jesus to be more like themselves. If the test were given to a random sample of adults, the results would be measurably similar. To one degree or another, we all conform Jesus to our own image.”

In the first chapter Bradbury shares some of the views that students have of Jesus – from Jesus as a Superhero to an Average Joe Jesus – and whether they see Jesus as being either obedient or rebellious or quiet or talkative.  The responses are so varied that she feels her investigation supports what McKnight wrote about in 2010.

For church workers, it does raise the question of how students (and adults) in our congregations view Jesus.  I have to assume that the views we would discover are as varied as the research Bradbury shares.

For followers of Jesus – and for me – I have to wonder whether I have conformed Jesus to my own image.  Is my view of Jesus based on what is revealed in Scripture or do I view Jesus more in line what I think He is?

I’m curious to not only read the rest of the research in the book, but also to learn how to apply that in our specific context. The point (I think) is not just to learn about how people – how our students – view Jesus, but how that impacts our relationship with Him. Bradbury quotes Carl Braaten in her introduction pointing to why our view of Jesus is important: “…faith stands or falls with what it knows about Jesus of Nazareth.”

 

Nomophobia – do you have it?

I learned a new phrase this weekend – nomophobia.  It stands for no-mobile-phobia – the fear of going without your phone.

Just tonight before our small groups started, one of our guys got out his phone, accidentally dropped it and cracked his screen. He was upset because he just had his phone fixed a few weeks ago.  I’ve seen phones that have multiple cracks throughout the screen (kind of looks like a bunch of spider webs).  Rather than get the phone fixed, people continue to use them because they don’t want to be without it.

Last week one of our junior high girls was stressing out a little bit – her iPhone was on 4% battery.  She was afraid she wouldn’t make it home before it died.

I have to admit I have had a touch of nomophobia.  My son dropped my phone at the doctor’s office and cracked the case enough where the SIM card wouldn’t read. So, I couldn’t send texts or receive phone calls for a while.  I have to admit I was a little concerned.  I mean, what important call or text might I miss out on that afternoon?  Scary stuff!

That’s what the infograph shows below, based on a study done in the UK. Check to see if someone you know (or maybe even you) suffer from nomophobia.  Interesting stats.

This infograph was posted on the Youth Ministry Media website.

 

surviving-without-smartphone-infographic

Just Say Thank You

thanksHow many times have parents needed to remind their children of the “magic words” – please and thank you? My wife regularly prompts us to say thank you, whether to a coach, a server at a restaurant or whoever purchased the meal on that day. Not only is it good manners, scientific research is showing there is real benefit in expressing gratitude.

I try to write occasional personal thank you’s to volunteers. Even if someone isn’t being paid for a service, a heart-felt thank you can go a long way.

Dr. Robert Emmons, from the University of California Davis, and his team have done research on the role gratitude. They have learned that people who view life as a gift and consciously acquire an “attitude of gratitude” experience multiple advantages. “Gratitude improves emotional and physical health, and can strengthen relationships and communities.”

In explaining his research, Dr. Emmons wrote, “Scientists are latecomers to the concept of gratitude. Religions and philosophies have long embraced gratitude as an indispensable manifestation of virtue, and an integral component of health, wholeness, and well-being.”

Another great reminder to all of us to just say thank you!

You Pick: Your Car or Your Phone

iPhoneLast night I attended an area all-star game where my daughter was one of the players. The crowd was mostly made up of parents, siblings and friends. At the end of the game, a group of high school students to my right were exiting the stands and one of the teen age girls dropped her phone. There was a sudden silence that seemed to grip that area of the gym as all the students paused to see if the phone was damaged. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief when she picked up the phone and found no cracks. That little event reminded me of an article I received via email last week.

Tim Elmore cited two different sources that showed the importance of cell phones to adolescents. Now I must admit I have been accused of being overly attached to my phone at times, but I found this information to be interesting.

Here’s some of what he shared:

According to recent Pew Research, adolescents put technology in the same category as air and water. They feel they need it to live their lives. In fact, they would rather give up their pinky finger than their cell phone. I interpret this to mean they use their smart phone far more than they do their smallest finger. Incredible.

Furthermore, a study commissioned by a car-sharing company called Zipcar shows that nearly 40 percent of Millennials believe that losing their phone would be a bigger hardship than losing their automobile. They also believe it would be a greater tragedy (so to speak) than losing access to a desktop, laptop or a TV.

So, what would you give up before you let go of your phone?

Three Major Faith and Culture Trends for 2014 – Barna Group

pollsThis month I started reading a book titled Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World. I’m still reading through it and processing some of the data and conclusions the author shares (I’m sure something will appear in this space on a later date regarding the book).

So, as I’m thinking through this idea of living in a post-Christian world, I see this research from Barna. I thought it was interesting, especially for leaders in the church. One paragraph especially caught my attention:

The rising resistance to faith institutions is evidenced in the newer language used to discuss spirituality today. When it comes to matters of the soul, disclaimers are emerging as the new faith identifiers. Today, there are those who self-describe as “spiritual, but not religious”—individuals who like to associate with what they perceive as the positive elements of spirituality but not the negative associations of organized religion. Or consider the rise of the “Nones”—the much-discussed adults who are religiously unaffiliated and who don’t want to use any conventional label for their religious faith. And in many places, the prefix “post-” is being attached to matters of faith. Post-Christian. Post-denominational. Post-evangelical. Post-religious.

You can read the Barna article below, but it added to the churning in my brain about what it means to lead youth ministry (or any kind of ministry) in our post-Christian culture.

Thoughts?

Three Major Faith and Culture Trends for 2014 – Barna Group.