It is more complicated to live as a Christian in this generation. The life stages and challenges we face as humans are the same but the context has changed.
This generation is bombarded with so much information. Gen Z and Millenials will mature (in terms of knowledge) a lot faster than Baby Boomers, due to the rapid advancing of technology and the amount of information that is readily available.
There is a shift away from the importance of understanding who you are and spiritual maturity; there a shift towards accomplishments, financial independence, individualism and finding purpose within yourself (your personal passions). The Bible teaches us that purpose is found when we look outwards (upwards towards our Creator) and realize that we are part of something bigger; we are created to do more than satisfying our personal ambitions. Millennials are very experiential, self-aware and in-tune with their feelings. This is a good thing, however there is a tendency for millennials to be driven by their emotions; thus, causing them to float from company to company to find a place that will “keep them happy”. This heart attitude will influence their commitments to ministry, marriages, friendships, goals and other aspects of life.
Surveys comparing Millenials and Gen Z (from Barna)
Millenials and Gen Z have a rapid absorption rate towards knowledge, and it has created skepticism toward authority and structure. They are taught to speak up and develop their own thoughts, which raises more questions toward just ‘accepting faith’. This makes it challenging to build up resilient disciples of Christ within the young emerging generation. A position of authority is no longer good enough to “make them listen”; they value realness and authenticity in a leader in order to follow respect and follow after an authority figure.
Millennials want to belong before they believe. Millenials are experiential and want to be engaged, accepted and involved. They want to take an active role in experiencing how faith can play out into their everyday life (work, social life, ministry).
As spiritual leaders, we need to develop cultural discernment in how God is moving and shaping this generation of young adults. We need to stop complaining about what is wrong about this generation (entitled, flakey, emotional), instead let us figure out how to empower, support and build up this generation to navigate through this digital culture.
Grace Liu is our Jakarta City Director and has a heart for building community and empowering the next generation of leaders.