My desire for this month’s Cultural Clarity Report is to empower you to reach the next generation — specifically to shine the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the dark world of Gen Z, young people ages 12-24 or so.
This is the first generation of true “digital natives,” young people who, their whole lives, have had access to the internet, tablets, smart phones, social media … and this constant digital connection has shaped their outlooks and their lives … but for better or worse?
The statistics show us:
- Nearly one in five teenagers say they’re on TikTok, “almost constantly,” while 32% say they access the app several times a day.
- YouTube is also a tremendous draw for teens: 54% say they’re either constantly on YouTube or access it several times a day.
- X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook don’t seem to appeal to teenagers much these days — but 51% access Snapchat daily and 47% use Instagram daily.
What is it that causes thousands, even millions of people to watch for the next content upload from their preferred internet influencer? Refreshing social media feeds fuel users’ ever-increasing craving for visual stimulation. It has reached the point where mindless obedience to or imitation of an influencer is a pervasive form of idolatry in this country that can result in deadly consequences.
And this constant use of social media is set amidst a warning from the U.S. Surgeon General that social media poses significant threats to the mental health of young people, from sleep disruptions to suicidal thoughts.
No wonder then that …
- In one survey 54% of Gen Z respondents said they felt anxious just the day before.
- 44% said they felt unprepared for the future.
- 64% are stressed about money, naming the lack of cash as the greatest barrier to achieving their goals.
- 36% of Gen Z feels their mental health is poor or only fair.
- Globally suicide ranks as the 4th leading cause of death for young people ages 15-29 while in the USA suicide rates among young people ages 10-24 increased 57% in the past 11 years.
- One in 3 high school students in the USA report persistent feelings of hopelessness— among girls, the rate is even higher: 50% of American high school girls feel hopeless.
Young people are anxious, hopeless, lonely, suffering mental health problems … and desperately need the bedrock foundation of God’s love to give them a pathway to a brighter future.
You can be the one who breaks the chokehold in their lives through the Good News of the Gospel, but to do so, you’ll have to connect with Gen Z in ways that they’ll respond to. Here are some basic building blocks that may help:
- If you are not already, get good at social media. Remember, they’re on TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram daily, if not almost constantly.
- Prioritize a genuine message of building community and relationship. For young people who feel hopeless and unprepared for the future, there’s no way to overestimate how welcome the gift of authentic friendship is.
- Stand on the Word of God. Gen Z is looking for connection and community, and they value authenticity. You can focus programs on uplifting community and meeting physical needs while keeping the focus on the Truth of God’s Word.
It’s my prayer that a renewed zeal to reach Gen-Z will take hold in you as you seek the direction of the Holy Spirit to reach your mission field.
Yours for the Harvest,
Dr. Rod Parsley
Founder & General Overseer