GEN Z & 7 Helpful Insights from Recent Research.

Another Look at the ‘Least Religious Generation’

by Drew Moser, Christianity Today, 9/25/19.

The Twentysomething Soul: Understanding the Religious and Secular Lives of American Young Adults, by Tim Clydesdale and Kathleen Garces-Foley… the authors’ original research, which draws from hundreds of interviews and thousands of surveys of twentysomethings across the nation. Their analysis focuses on the 91 percent of American twentysomethings who identify as either Christian (Catholic, evangelical, or mainline Protestant) or “religiously unaffiliated.” (Twentysomethings of other faith traditions are not considered in this book.) Clydesdale and Garces-Foley distill their work into seven major claims:

  • Contrary to popular opinion, the beliefs and practices of American twentysomethings reveal far more continuity than decline.
  • One in three twentysomethings attend worship regularly, but they cluster within young-adult friendly congregations.
  • The religiously unaffiliated are a diverse group, consisting of atheists, agnostics, and believers.
  • Today’s American twentysomethings adopt one of four approaches to faith: They prioritize it, they reject it, they sideline it, or they practice an “eclectic spirituality.”
  • American twentysomething spirituality groups into two camps: traditionally religious and nontraditional.
  • Those American twentysomethings who prioritize religious and spiritual life are more likely to engage in a certain set of practices: marriage, parenthood, college graduation, employment, voting, community engagement, and social involvement.
  • American twentysomethings view institutions differently than their elders: As the authors explain, “Today’s twentysomethings experience the world less as sets of institutions prescribing standard life scripts and more as nodes on a network from which they can freely choose cultural symbols, strategies, and interpretations.”

ATTENDANCE & Most Young Adults Drop Out of Church Between Ages 18-22 For These Reasons #LifeWayResearch

by Aaron Earls, LifeWay, 2/18/19.

… Two-thirds (66 percent) of American young adults who attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year as a teenager say they also dropped out for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. Thirty-four percent say they continued to attend twice a month or more.

While the 66 percent may be troubling for many church leaders, the numbers may appear more hopeful when compared to a 2007 study from LifeWay Research. Previously, 70 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds left church for at least one year.

“The good news for Christian leaders is that churches don’t seem to be losing more students than they were 10 years ago. However, the difference in the dropout rate now and then is not large enough statistically to say it has actually improved,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“The reality is that Protestant churches continue to see the new generation walk away as young adults. Regardless of any external factors, the Protestant church is slowly shrinking from within.”

When They Drop Out

The dropout rate for young adults accelerates with age, the study found.

While 69 percent say they were attending at age 17, that fell to 58 percent at age 18 and 40 percent at age 19. Once they reach their 20s, around 1 in 3 say they were attending church regularly.

“Overall Protestant churches see many teenagers attending regularly only for a season. Many families just don’t attend that often,” said McConnell.

“As those teenagers reach their late teen years, even those with a history of regular church attendance are pulled away as they get increased independence, a driver’s license, or a job. The question becomes: will they become like older adults who have all those things and still attend or will students choose to stay away longer than a year.”

Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry at LifeWay, said those numbers speak to the issue at hand. “We are seeing teenagers drop out of the church as they make the transition out of high school and student ministry,” he said. “This moment of transition is often too late to act for churches.”

Why They Drop Out

Virtually all of those who dropped out (96 percent) listed a change in their life situation as a reason for their dropping out. Fewer say it was related to the church or pastor (73 percent); religious, ethical or political beliefs (70 percent); or the student ministry (63 percent).

The five most frequently chosen specific reasons for dropping out were: moving to college and no longer attending (34 percent); church members seeming judgmental or hypocritical (32 percent); no longer feeling connected to people in their church (29 percent); disagreeing with the church’s stance on political or social issues (25 percent); and work responsibilities (24 percent).

Almost half (47 percent) of those who dropped out and attended college say moving to college played a role in their no longer attending church for at least a year.

“Most of the reasons young adults leave the church reflect shifting personal priorities and changes in their own habits,” said McConnell. “Even when churches have faithfully communicated their beliefs through words and actions, not every teenager who attends embraces or prioritizes those beliefs.”

Among all those who dropped out, 29 percent say they planned on taking a break from church once they graduated high school. Seven in 10 (71 percent) say their leaving wasn’t an intentional decision.

“For the most part, people aren’t leaving the church out of bitterness, the influence of college atheists, or a renunciation of their faith,” said Trueblood.

“What the research tells us may be even more concerning for Protestant churches: there was nothing about the church experience or faith foundation of those teenagers that caused them to seek out a connection to a local church once they entered a new phase of life. The time they spent with activity in church was simply replaced by something else.”

Read more at … https://lifewayresearch.com/2019/01/15/most-teenagers-drop-out-of-church-as-young-adults/

UNAFFILIATED & Research shows younger Christians have moved from being evangelical to being “unaffiliated.”

America’s Changing Religious Landscape, podcast with Robert P. Jones (18 February 2019), interviewed by Benjamin P. Marcus.

…Atheists and agnostics actually only make up only a minority of that category of a quarter of the US population. And the rest of them are kind of a mixed bag. When we’ve looked underneath the hood, there’s kind of two other groups in there. There’s one group that looks . . . that we’ve just broadly labelled “secular” in some of our reporting, that looks broadly like a cross-section of the country. But there’s another group in there that we’ve actually dubbed “unattached believers”. And that group looks, on many measures of religiosity – like, “How often do you pray?”, “How often do you attend religious services?”, “Do you believe in God?”, those kind of questions – they look like religious Americans, even though they refuse the category and won’t identify with any particular religious group. That group tends to be less white, more African American or Latino. And they tend to be younger. And so it’s a very interesting group. I think, as a whole, this group has moved so fast now that it is a very diverse group. I mean, after all, it’s a quarter of Americans, so that is a big, big group that we’re talking about, now...

So if we go back ten years ago, I think that was more true than it is today. But it is true that young evangelicals have moved. But what they have moved from is from being evangelical to be unaffiliated. So they’ve actually exited the category over time. And we can see that a couple of ways in the data. For example, among young people today, only eight percent identify as white evangelical Protestant, right? And again that’s compared to about fifteen percent in the population. So young people are only half as likely to identify as evangelical as Americans overall. And when we look underneath the hood, and we look at the median age, for example, of white evangelicals over time, we see it creeping up. And the main reason for that is that, as they’ve lost members, they’re disproportionately losing members from their younger ranks. So what’s happening is, yes indeed, the young evangelicals of ten years ago have moved. But they’ve not moved over to be Democrats – or they might have – but they’ve mostly moved out of the whole category. They’ve stopped identifying as evangelical. And I think that’s the real shift. So if you’re looking for those people who were young evangelicals a decade ago, you should look for them in the unaffiliated category and not in the evangelical category. And what we’re seeing is that, among the young people who have stayed, the generational differences are now kind-of muted. Because the people who have stayed are actually people who hold views that are fairly consistent with older evangelicals. But the ones who had views, for example, that were in great tension – like on gay rights – have largely left the fold.

Audio and transcript available at: Jones_-_America_s_Changing__Religious_Landscape_1

Read/hear more at … https://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/podcast/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

GENERATIONS & The complete guide to Generation Z

by Ryan Jenkins, Inc. Magazine, 7/25/17.

No matter your age, technology is fundamentally re-shaping your behavior and expectations in a way you never thought possible. If technology has changed the way you live and work, imagine how it shaped an entire generation that has used technology as early as one year old.

Total game changer.

The next generation gives us data points into what’s next. Understanding who is Generation Z provides the necessary data to influence how a company must recruit, retain, and lead its employees in the future. (Read this to find out the eight ways Generation Z differs from Millennials.)

Rather than focusing on historical events, the below timeline covers how pivotal innovations and culture shifts have transformed Generation Z’s view of life and work. Generation Z begins in 1998 and the below provides the necessary context around how the oldest Generation Zers have grown up by charting the fictitious life journey of one individual. Let’s call this individual Jennifer Zahn or Jen Z for short–ah, get it?

Who Is Generation Z: A Timeline That Reveals How the 21st Century Shaped Them

1998: Jen Z is born.

Jen Z is raised by tech-savvy Generation X parents and many of her younger Generation Z peers are being raised by the tech-dependent Millennials. In fact, 38 percent of children today who are under two years old have used a mobile device for playing games, watching videos, or other media-related purposes. There was a relatively large technology gap between Millennials and their Baby Boomer parents, but Generation X has shrunk that gap with their Generation Z kids which has only accelerated the tech adoption of Generation Z.

Generation X’s independence, survival mentality, and skepticism towards leaders and institutions that they witness rise and fall during their youth will translate into parenting Generation Z with a focus on do-it-yourself mentality, hard work, and being realistic (especially since 62 percent of Generation Z doesn’t remember a time before the Great Recession).

  • Generation Z Mindset: Generation Z will approach work with a DIY, work hard, and pragmatic mindset.
  • Innovation Influencer: Parents

2006: Jen Z collaborates globally.

At age 8, Jen Z is an avid gamer which shapes her approach to collaboration. With 66 percent of Generation Z listing gaming as their main hobby, the International Olympic Committee is considering adding pro-gaming as an official sport, and Amazons $970 million acquisition of the live streaming video platform where viewers watch playthroughs of video games and other gaming-related events, Twitch, confirm the growth and importance of gaming among Generation Z…

Jen Z doesn’t think twice about turning on her Xbox, putting on a headset, and gaming alongside people around the world in real time as they strive for an epic Halo win. Because gaming isn’t hierarchical, Jen Z grasps the power and ease of virtual collaboration and reaching across borders to create powerful and diverse networks of global talent.

  • Generation Z Mindset: Generation Z gravitates towards gamified processes or procedures and are native to global communication and collaboration across virtual platforms.
  • Innovation Influencer: Xbox

2007: Jen Z becomes untethered.

At age 9, Jen Z is given her first cell phone for the primary purpose of safety and logistics. However, she is soon exposed to the new smartphone that mom and dad own. Today, the average age for a child getting their first smartphone is 10.3 years-old. Smartphones mobilized Generation Z to text, socialize, and game on the go.

Also at this time, YouTube is growing in popularity and thanks to the easy to use Flip Video camera, Jen Z is empowered to create and share videos. Three-quarters of Generation Z watch YouTube at least weekly. YouTube becomes a go-to resource for entertainment, information, and how-tos.

  • Generation Z Mindset: Generation Z is a video and mobile-centric generation where their mobile devices serve as the remote control of their lives.
  • Innovation Influencer: Smartphone and YouTube

2008: Jen Z extends her digital communication.

At age 10, Jen Z doesn’t meet the age requirements of Facebook but that doesn’t stop her from lying about her age in order to create an account and begin communicating with friends. While Millennials helped push social media into the mainstream, Generation Z can’t remember a world where social media didn’t exist. Today, 39 percent of kids get a social media account at 11.4 years-old.

Millennials were digital pioneers, but Generation Z is the true digital natives. They have not had to adapt to technology because the only world they know is a hyper-connected one where 2 out of 7 people on the planet use Facebook.

  • Generation Z Mindset: Generation Z is quick to adopt new communication channels and prefers real-time, transparent, and collaborative digital communications.
  • Innovation Influencer: Facebook

2009: Jen Z benefits from content curation.

At age 11, Jen Z enters middle school with a smart device and the world’s information curated into blank search boxes. Jen Z and her peers have become adept researchers and very resourceful due to their early Internet access. In fact, 43% of Generation Zteens prefer a digital approach to learning and find it easiest to learn from the Internet.

Generation Z treats the Internet as their external brain and therefore approach problems in a whole new way, unlike any generation before them. They do not consider parents or teachers as the authority but rather the Internet as the authority.

  • Generation Z Mindset: Generation Z wants teachers and managers to not be the sole source of their learning but rather supplement their learning — coaching them through their questions, mistakes, and successes.
  • Innovation Influencer: Search Engines

2010: Jen Z lives an interconnected life…

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/ryan-jenkins/complete-guide-to-who-is-generation-z.html

GENERATIONS & The emerging agreement on age ranges w/ a description of each

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/14/15.

The New York Times ran an article about Millennials after which other media pointed out that the age-range they used wasn’t actually the range for Millennials. If the venerable NYTimes can’t get it right, then agreeing on what to call each generational culture will be challenging.  Here are some thoughts followed by the emerging agreement.

Generational cultures:(1)

This is how simplified it in Preparing the Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), p 53.

  • Builder (1) or the Silent (2) or Greatest (3) Generation, b. 1945 and before
  • Boomer Generation, b. 1946-1964
  • Leading-edge Generation X, b. 1965-1974
  • Post-modern Generation X, b. 1975-1983
  • Generation Y, b. 1984-2002

See these postings for more: CULTURES & A List of Cultures  and CULTURES & A Cumulative List of Cultures from My Books

Though there is disagreement, there is an emerging consensus.

Philip Bump in his article for The Atlantic, titled “Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts” (3/25/14) conducted excellent research and generated the following chart:

(chart retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/)

This is how Philip Bump explained each:

We identified six different generations, and labeled their eras.

Greatest Generation. These are the people that fought and died in World War II for our freedom, which we appreciate. But it’s a little over-the-top as far as names go, isn’t it? Tom Brokaw made the name up and of course everyone loved it. What, you’re going to argue with your grandfather that he isn’t in the greatest generation? The generation ended when the war ended.

Baby Boomers. This is the agreed-upon generation that falls within DiPrete’s punctuated timeframe. It began when the Greatest Generation got home and started having sex with everyone; it ended when having sex with everyone was made easier with The Pill.

Generation X. George Masnick, of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies puts this generation in the timeframe of 1965 to 1984, in part because it’s a neat 20-year period. He also calls it the “baby bust,” mocking “[p]undits on Madison Avenue and in the media” that call it Generation X. Ha ha, tough luck.

Generation Y. Masnick addresses this group, too, putting it “anywhere from the mid-1970s when the oldest were born to the mid-2000s when the youngest were.” But mostly Generation Y is a made-up generation when it became obvious that young kids didn’t really fit with the cool Generation X aesthetic but not enough of them had been born to make a new generation designation. NOTE: Generation Y is a fake, made-up thing. Do not worry about it.

Millennials. In October 2004, researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss called Millennials “the next great generation,” which is funny. They define the group as “as those born in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter.” In 2012, they affixed the end point as 2004.

TBD. But that means that kids born in the last 10 years lack a designation. They are not Millennials. Earlier this month, Pew Research asked people what the group should be called and offered some terrible ideas. In other words, this is the new Generation Y. We’ll figure out what they’re called in the future.

Time Magazine Gets In the Discusion

(http://time.com/247/millennials-the-me-me-me-generation/)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  In this discussion a student passed along this scan from Time Magazine (Joel Stein, 5/20/13) from a few years ago that completely leaves out Generation Y, assimilating them into the Millennial Generation.  Though not as scholarly of a work, it is insightful.

Generations TIME

Endnotes:

1. Gary McIntosh, One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All Ages in Your Church [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2002] and Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000).

2. This generation has been labeled various ways, for instance as the “silent generation” by William Strauss and Neil Howe in Generations: The History of American’s Future, 1954-2069 (New York: Quill, 1992).

3. They are labeled the “greatest generation” by Tom Brokaw in The Greatest Generation (New York: Random House, 2004).

FACILITIES & Building a New Church Auditorium, Research Suggests Millennials Prefer This Size

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Ever since Robin Dunbar’s research suggested that the optimum auditorium size for community events is around 150, there has been a push to establish church sanctuaries is in the 150 size range for optimum fellowship. Here is more research that suggests that Robin Dunbar is right. In this Barna survey different generations were asked which church sanctuary they preferred. The more intimate space of under 200 was preferred by the Millennials.”

Taking a friend to church? Keep this in mind …

by Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com) Monday, December 01, 2014

Even though megachurches have been receiving all the attention over the past couple of decades, many of the preferences 18- to 29-year-olds have when conceptualizing the ideal church will come as a surprise to many pastors, current churchgoers and armchair Christians alike.

After taking a handful of Americans of various faiths from major U.S. cities on tours to suburban megachurches, urban cathedrals, coffee shops and city parks, researchers from the Barna Group and Cornerstone Knowledge Network were asked about their likes and dislikes regarding different facets of worship areas.

After showing the Millennial participants four different sanctuaries, one of the selections was the hands-down favorite, drawing more than twice as many votes of the entire group of 18- to 29-year-olds as any of the other three worship spaces.

Barna survey Sanctuary

“Sanctuary 2 was the ‘Goldilocks’ space for many respondents — not too big, not too small — just right,” Barna researches disclosed. “It’s big enough to retain some anonymity as a visitor — the marginally churched (63 percent) and those who are not practicing Christians (50 percent) preferred it more strongly than the average — but small enough to feel part of a community. Parents with children under 18 (50 percent) also preferred Sanctuary 2 more than average.”

The megachurch worship area (Sanctuary 1) received the lowest — just 18 percent of the overall vote — while Sanctuary 3, which is devoid of religious symbols or screens but smaller than the previous two, received 20 percent of the vote from the overall group (32 percent of those in the group coming from faiths other than Christianity chose this option). Sanctuary 4 is also a smaller, cozy space with religious imagery and a large screen. This setting only received 18 percent of the overall vote.

Read more at … http://www.onenewsnow.com/church/2014/12/01/taking-a-friend-to-church-keep-this-in-mind

ART & An Example of How to Do Outreach & Discipleship With Emerging Artists

by Pastor Paul Tillman, Lead Pastor, Oakdale Wesleyan Church, 12/1/14

In partnership with Indiana Wesleyan University, Oakdale Wesleyan Church has sponsored an art contest. Student artists prepared works depicting Philip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian Official from Acts 8:26-40. Artwork entries hang at the Beard Arts Center at IWU from December 1, 2014 to January 9, 2015, and, in addition to the artist receiving a cash or scholarship prize from the memorial gifts of Don and Trudy Emory, the winning piece will be brought to to hang permanently at Oakdale Wesleyan Church as a reminder and symbol of our mission, given to us by Jesus, to make disciples from all peoples by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The contest guidelines were: “Students should create 2D work on canvas or board that is no smaller than 24″ x 36″ and no larger than 36″ x 46″. Work can be orientated in either portrait or landscape. The style of the work may be: classical/traditional, realistic, or impressionistic, based upon any part of all of the story of Philip and the Ethiopian from Acts 8:26-40. The winning entry will be a symbol for the call to multi-ethnic ministry, making disciples and missions.” We are now pleased to show the entries and announce the winner.

The Installation Ceremony of the winning pieces will be on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Oakdale Wesleyan Church. The following day, Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 10 am, we will hold a Celebration Service. Greater details on the installation and celebration will be forthcoming. Both events are open to the public.

First Place – ICHTHUS by Nate Hillyer

ICHTHUS by Nate Hillyer

ICHTHUS by Nate Hillyer http://www.natehillyer.com/

In addition to his wonderful style, the artist brought in great symbolism to the piece: light and darkness, the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, reconciliation, and the making of disciples, all from the perspective of God Above. This piece captured all the contest elements, and will hang in the lobby of Oakdale Wesleyan Church. Nate Hillyer received $300 for his winning entry.

Honorable Mention – Immersion by Gayle Cobb

Immersion by Gayle Cobb

Immersion by Gayle Cobb http://www.gcillustration.com/

With its bold colors and zoomed in perspective, this piece forces the viewer to engage and figure it out. The artist chose only show the hands of Philip (a choice that really works for the piece), making is so those hands could be anyone’s hands, or even the hands of God. This piece will have a place of honor, and will be featured during baptisms. Gayle Cobb received $100 for her entry…

Read more at … http://oakdalechurch.org/art-content-winner/

GENERATIONS & Meet Generation Z

by Amy Scott, Pew Research Marketplace

“Gen Z, or the iGeneration as some have called it, refers to those born since roughly 1995. These are kids who have never known a world without the Internet and smartphones. And they’re just starting to hit college.

Marketplace teamed up with Northeastern University to survey the latest crop of college-bound teenagers, aged 16 to 19…

Listen here … http://www.marketplace.org/node/148699/player/storyplayer

Read more at … http://www.marketplace.org/topics/education/learningcurve/meet-generation-z

GENERATIONS & The Shifting Meaning of Happiness #SocialPsychologicalJournal

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel; “What makes different generations happy?  This research will help you understand how to minister to different generations in both worship and ministry activities. And you probably guessed it, researchers found that young people crave excitement to make them happy, while as we mature we increasingly prefer peacefulness to make us happy (perhaps a contributor to worship wars?)”

By Cassie Mogilner, University of Pennsylvania, Sepandar D. Kamvar, Stanford University and Jennifer Aaker, University of Pennsylvania, Social Psychological and Personality Science December 20, 2010

Abstract

An examination of emotions reported on 12 million personal blogs along with a series of surveys and laboratory experiments shows that the meaning of happiness is not fixed; instead, it systematically shifts over the course of one’s lifetime. Whereas younger people are more likely to associate happiness with excitement, as they get older, they become more likely to associate happiness with peacefulness. This change appears to be driven by a redirection of attention from the future to the present as people age. The dynamic of what happiness means has broad implications, from purchasing behavior to ways to increase one’s happiness…

Read more here … http://m.spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/12/15/1948550610393987

CHRISTMAS & Christmas A Non-Religious Holiday For Half Of Americans #PewResearch #InfoGraphic

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This research shows that Christmas is increasingly becoming a cultural holiday and that most people say their church attendance on Christmas has declined almost 25% since they were children. This is a reminder to the church that marketplace forces are eroding our primary celebratory occasions. To offset this it’s important for church leaders to understand and to increase market differentiation. This means reminding people about the difference between the cultural holiday and the religious one, e.g. maybe fewer singing Christmas trees and more focus of the manger scene.”

By Pew Research, 12/3/13christmas2013-1Nine-in-ten Americans say they celebrate Christmas, and three-quarters say they believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. But only about half see Christmas mostly as a religious holiday, while one-third view it as more of a cultural holiday. Virtually all Christians (96%) celebrate Christmas, and two-thirds see it as a religious holiday. In addition, fully eight-in-ten non-Christians in America also celebrate Christmas, but most view it as a cultural holiday rather than a religious occasion.

christmas2013-2… But fewer Americans say they will send Christmas or holiday cards this year than say their families typically did this when they were children.

christmas2013-3

The share of people who plan to go caroling this year also is lower than the share who say they typically did so as children. And while about seven-in-ten Americans say they typically attended Christmas Eve or Christmas Day religious services when they were children, 54% say they plan to attend Christmas services this year.

Read more at … http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/18/celebrating-christmas-and-the-holidays-then-and-now/