We are seeing social phenomena in this generation like never before. I say social because the rate at which some issues are growing is simply a statistical impossibility. Mental health is crumbling; gender identity is becoming more confusing by the day. The quest for the self is at an all-time high, but students are coming up more empty-handed than ever before. My question has been why and what do we do about it?
I’m not interested in bashing the worldview itself or a technical definition (in this blog) but in how I see it working out in our world. Postmodernism seems to be very much focused on the self and living out our desires without limitations and restrictions being put on us by others or society as a whole. Everyone is living out “their truth,” and no generation more than Gen Z.
But is it working?
I don’t think so.
The problem is that the self is not big enough to live for. We fail ourselves; we break our own rules; we do things we are not proud of in moments of impulsivity and are filled with guilt and shame over them. In a world where almost nothing is off-limits, I think students are being consumed by this vast sea of confusion and nihilism that arises amid no limitations.
Students need a story to live by that will anchor them. Students need the Gospel.
But they need to hear more than Jesus died for your sins. Ironically, this is a pretty postmodern way to communicate the Gospel (not that Jesus dying for your sins isn’t crucial). They need to hear about the grand narrative of scripture; this is a story they can see themselves in and be transformed by. They need to see God’s faithfulness to those already in the story, so they can see His faithfulness to them. This culminates in the coming of His Son and Him doing what none of us could. They need to hear about the beautiful redemption that comes at the end of the story and the part they are to play in seeing that come in the here and now. They need to know there is meaning and purpose in their lives.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Christ is reconciling the world to Himself and calling us to participate. This is what Gen Z needs.
So here are my two cents:
- Preach the Gospel a lot, painting the picture that Christ is reconciling the world to Himself, but do it in a way that they can see themselves in the story
- Call them to participate in the story by giving their lives to the mission of God; Gen Z wants and needs something to give their lives to.
- Gen Z cares about Justice, and so does God. Call them into living Justly in the Kingdom.
- Gen Z is so individualistic it’s crucial we often call them into community when it comes to their faith. Do as many things communally as you can.
Jordan is a team member at Reframe Youth in Phoenix, Arizona.