by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, 8/9/16.
While many churches remain concerned about attracting millennials, a new generation of adults is emerging with their own identity.
Generation Z, also known as iGen, are more than 25 percent of America’s population. The oldest members of this generation turn 18 this year. Just who are they and what does the church need to know about them?
New research reported by The Washington Post reveals a complicated picture of the generation born since 1998.
1. First true digital native generation
… Since they were born, Generation Z has grown up connected to the web and social media. They are the first generation to have their parents post baby pictures and dance recitals on Facebook. Today Gen Zers are documenting their lives on Instagram and Snapchat.
…But this increased exposure has brought unintended consequences. More than 4 in 10 members of Generation Z (42 percent) say social media impacts their self-esteem.
Churches should focus on helping tweens and teens find their identity and self-worth in Christ, not in the online opinion of others.
2. Love to communicate, but not always with words
… Instead of reading texts or blogs, they would rather interact with video and other visual forms. And they would rather do it online than with a television. Among 13- to 24-year-olds, 96 percent watched online video content over the past week at an average of 11 hours a week. By contrast, 81 percent of the same group watched scheduled TV for an average of 8 hours weekly.
You can also see Generation Z’s preference for visual interaction with their top three social media platforms, according to the research in The Washington Post. More than half like Vine (54 percent) and Instagram (52 percent), while a third enjoy Twitter (34 percent). The first two are video and photo sharing sites and Twitter increasingly incorporates images and videos.
…Learn how to use video content, like the new Instagram Stories. Here are five ways churches can use that feature.
3. Most racially diverse generation
…Among Americans under 18, whites comprise just over half (52 percent), according to Census analysis by Brookings. As you examine younger segments of Generation Z, the diversity only grows. Looking at the Census data, Pew Research found whites are a minority among children under 5.
Fourteen states already have “majority minority” populations under 18. And in half the states, Generation Z is more than 40 percent minority.
The need for churches to become multicultural is only going to increase as Generation Z enters adulthood. Being surrounded by people from different ethnicities and cultures is becoming the norm for this generation.
[Read more about multicultural churches in Facts & Trendsissue “United by the Gospel.”]
4. Only beginning their cultural influence
… Early research indicates this new generation is less idealistic and more thrifty than millennials. As they take on more societal influence, their traits—for better or worse—will hold more sway over culture.
If trends continue, fewer members of Generation Z will see religion as important, according to Pew Research.
Evangelical churches will need to find ways to retain children who grow up attending their churches and reach the growing number of the emerging adults who come from unchurched families. After researching college students, a study found eight steps churches can take now to reach (and keep) young adults.