Got my hands on a copy of Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World a couple days ago. Honestly…couldn’t put it down. The newest book by James Emery White, the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church, Meet Generation Z takes an important look at the generation that follows the Millennials (born approximately 1995 to 2010).
Along with the writing of Ed Stetzer, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, I’ve found what James Emery White writes to fall in the must-read category. Typically, if it’s important to know where culture is going, how it will affect the Church and what might be done to impact culture…you’ve got to read James Emery White.
Meet Generation Z doesn’t disappoint. As always, referencing a rich array of sociologists, demographic researchers, and historians, White links together a fascinating set of observations to paint a picture of Generation Z. He doesn’t stop there, however, but includes an equally compelling analysis of “the model Christian leaders must adopt and adapt if we are to reach members of Generation Z with the gospel (from the cover).”
“Generation Z will come to typify the new reality of a post-Christian world. As the first truly post-Christian generation, and numerically the largest, Generation Z will be the most influential religious force in the West and the heart of the missional challenge facing the Christian church (p. 11).”
Part One of Meet Generation Z establishes some important understandings necessary to fully grasp the generational moment. Chapter 1 provides an updated look at the research White referenced in his award-winning 2014 book, The Rise of the Nones. We meet Generation Z in chapters 2 and 3, providing insightful understandings with 5 key characteristics and a look into the impact of a generation being raised by the generation most likely to be a none.
If possible, Part Two is more important. Moving beyond understanding the generation and the impact they will have, White takes a look at the ideas and practices that will engage a post-Christian culture. He finds his thesis beginning in a line from John Stott,
“If the church realistically accepted His standards and values…and lived by them, it would be the alternative society he always intended it to be, and would offer the world an authentic Christian counter-culture.” John Stott, Christian Counter-Culture
Part Two wrestles with culture and what it means to be counter-cultural, the importance of finding your voice (and what to do when you find your voice), as well as rethinking evangelism and apologetics for a post-Christian culture. Against the backdrop of everything preceding it, chapter 8 details an important set of decisions that must be made in order “to be effective at reaching not only the unchurched but also the unchurched nones, and, even at this early stage, Generation Z (p. 145).”
Meet Generation Z concludes with a fascinating set of Appendices reflecting “three talks delivered at Mecklenburg Community Church that reflect issues related to reaching Generation Z. The first is an example of how to address a controversial issue–in this case, gay marriage. The second explores the world of the occult (and our culture’s fascination with it) by mapping out the spiritual world. And the third is an example of how one might build an apologetic bridge for the sake of pre-evangelism using science (p. 12).”
If you want to understand the emerging post-Christian culture and see it through the eyes of the largest generation, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World is must-read. Put off wrestling with this content at the risk of ineffectiveness and irrelevance.