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The Next Generation

NextGen

Reaching the next generation with the gospel is not easy. Those born in 2000 or after are teenagers now. The Millennials, who started coming of age after 2000, are giving way to the “Centennials,” or Generation-Z. They have grown up in a very different world, one where the number of people who claim no religious affiliation at all is about 20% and growing. Jack Lucas joined IBSA as leader of next-gen ministry. IBSA aids churches in reaching children with the gospel, and equipping students as tomorrow’s leaders through VBS, missions events, Youth Encounter in three locations, AWSOM for teen girls, Summer Worship University, and a full summer schedule of camps at Lake Sallateeska and Streator Baptist Camps.

Pray for next-gen director Jack Lucas, worship director Steve Hamrick, camp managers Philip Hall and Mike Young and their ministry teams.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering.

Give to the Offering. If your church promotes and receives a Mission Illinois Offering, we encourage you to give that way. If not, you can also give here — www.IBSA.org/GiveToMIO.

Watch “Now More Than Ever.”

Young family

Gen-Z has its own language and way of communicating. How can we connect?

Her inquisitive 4-year-old sat in his booster seat snacking on chips, staring out the window, and watching the world pass by.

“Daddy, why is the sky blue?”

Leneita Fix listened as her husband gave a simple yet scientific answer to her sweet boy. Then boy asked, “Why do cows moo?”

Her husband began talking about the communication strategies of livestock when her son posed a third question.

“How did Jesus do it? How did he take away my sin?”

Fix and her husband glanced at each other. Wow, where to start? Better not mess this up with the wrong words and confuse him. Maybe talk about the ABC’s of being a Christian? Or focus on the theology of Jesus as the perfect sacrifice. Probably need to tell him the definition of sacrifice—

“Whoa! Look at the size of this Dorito!!” the child said next.

“I love to tell that story because it perfectly exemplifies the reality of Generation Z,” said Fix, speaker, missions and training coordinator for BowDown Church and Urban Youth Impact in West Palm Beach, Florida, and author of several books including No Teenager Left Behind. “This generation has so much information at their fingertips that they are used to having the answers immediately. They want to soak up information, including deep spiritual truths about who God is, but they have only about an 8-second attention span.”

Getting it right
Generation Z is the group of children and students who are being raised and launched into the world right now. Born between 1995 to the present, Gen-Z is nicknamed the “Always On Generation” because they’ve never known a life without a touchscreen, without global terrorism, without civic unrest and financial unrest, and they have a unique perspective of what a normal family unit looks like.

“Another difference is while Millennials are well-known for dealing with FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, Generation Z is more concerned with FOMU, or Fear of Messing Up,” Fix said during her D6 Connect Tour presentation at First Baptist Church Bethalto.

Sky, cow, Jesus, Dorito: This teacher’s story shows how today’s kids can think deep thoughts—and shallow ones—almost at the same time. How will parents make the most of the moments they have to communicate about the more important matters?

“They have a deep need to know the right answers and having Google at their fingertips leaves no room for doubt. Studies show that Gen-Z is destined for success in both college and career and they care about injustice more than any other generation in history.” However, it’s their fear of imperfection and “not getting it right” that Fix said could easily derail their ambitions.

“We have to teach them the difference between messing up and intentionally making wrong decisions,” Fix said. “It’s OK to not know the answer or to have questions. We all have questions and don’t have it all figured out. Give them the space and grace to not be perfect. However, if they intentionally choose not to do a homework assignment or some other truly wrong decision, that’s not OK.”

And despite every preventive measure taken, Brian Housman, author of Tech Savvy Parenting, said wrong choices and moral failures are going to happen. He said parents and the church support system must always parent with the end game in mind.

Housman used the example of a video he once saw of 16-year-old Bobby Fisher playing ten games of chess at once. He won every match and when interviewed about how he kept track of each game Fisher said based on the opponent’s prior moves and body language, he developed a strategy to win and then just let that strategy play out.

“We have an end-game in mind financially and in our careers,” Housman said. “We need to focus on the end-game with our kids and the good news is that we’re not alone. We are partnering with the Savior to raise them to be like Christ.”

Without the end game in the forefront, parents default to wanting to change feelings and even unintentionally guilt their kids into better behavior.

“We’ve become geniuses at sin management and masters at behavior modifications,” Housman said. “Christian parents, particularly those in the ministry, are more concerned about the appearance of things and what might make us look bad. We make it about us when we want to change the feeling or their behavior. We need to seek to change their heart.”

“The best approach to moral failure in our kids is the same as God’s approach to us,” he said. “God never shames his children. He loves first, forgives, acknowledges the wrongdoing, but understands what we’re going through. God chooses to be with
us as we walk out of it.”

Say it, don’t Snap it
Communication is key. This generation is bombarded with messages coming at them from every one of their devices. However, when it comes to hearing the messages that matter, Fix said face-to-face interaction is still the best way.

“Don’t over complicate things,” she said. “Generation Z is striving for authenticity. Many studies have shown that they actually prefer face-to-face communication over the multitude of other options. Yes, they talk through Snapchat and Instagram and even through their video games, but the people they consider themselves closest to are those they see every day at home, church, and school.”

But never wait for the perfect moment to have an in-depth conversation, because that moment will never come for these success-driven kids. Instead, Fix suggests utilizing the margins of time between practices and appointments, dinner prep, or yard work.

“There is no longer the space or grace to wait,” she said.

“Remember sky, cow, Jesus, Dorito. Sometimes God will lay an encouraging word or thought on my heart and I text it to my kids right away, because they need to know God loves them and I love them all the time. We need to become really good at communicating in the moments we have.”

-Kayla Rinker is a freelance writer living in Park Hills, Mo. 

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

The national fast food chain landed back in the frying pan in mid-September, when a Chicago alderman announced he had succeeded in changing the company’s mind concerning its support of same-sex marriage.

Joe Moreno, who sparked a national debate this summer when he threatened to block Chick-Fil-A from opening restaurants in his ward because of the company’s views, claimed the chain had promised to no longer give money to groups against same-sex marriage.

But others are calling foul on the alderman’s supposed victory.

“There continues to be erroneous implications in the media that Chick-Fil-A changed our practices and priorities in order to obtain permission for a new restaurant in Chicago. That is incorrect,” said Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, via former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s website.

“Chick-Fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been.”

Two things seem to be Moreno’s main issues with Chick-Fil-A: The company’s contributions to organizations that support traditional marriage, like Focus on the Family; and an anti-discrimination policy that Moreno claims Chick-Fil-A has introduced in the aftermath of the summer controversy.

The alderman said Chick-Fil-A agreed to add language “opposing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to the company’s employee handbook,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

But Chick-Fil-A’s “Who We Are” document, to which Moreno said the new language would be added, repeats the wording the company used this summer when defending its beliefs and practices. According to a Baptist Press report, Chick-Fil-A’s tradition is to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

The Who We Are document also says Chick-fil-A “supports programs and marriage retreats to help strengthen and enrich marriages,” which more than 4,000 couples attend annually.

According to CNN, Moreno said Cathy”s statement “at the least, muddied the progress we had made with Chick-fil-A and, at the worst, contradicted the documents and promises Chick-fil-A made to me and the community earlier this month.”

The public continues to weigh in on Chick-Fil-A’s Facebook page, posting thousands of comments. Now, it’s your turn:

In your opinion, has Chick-Fil-A done a good job of navigating this summer’s debates over its leader’s views?

Other news:

Supreme Court justice predicts DOMA will appear before Court
Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
a Supreme Court justice since 1993, said in an address at the University of Colorado Law School that the Defense of Marriage Act is likely to go before the nation’s highest court by next year. “I think it’s most likely that we will have that issue before the court toward the end of the current term,” said Ginsburg, according to the Christian Post. Earlier this year, the First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned DOMA Section 3, which defines marriage in federal law in the traditional sense. Read more at ChristianPost.com.

WMU announces young women’s outreach
(From Baptist Press) National Woman’s Missionary Union is stepping up its ministry to younger women through myMISSION, a new, primarily web-based organization for young adult women engaging in missions. The new organization builds on the website mymissionfulfilled.com that WMU created in 2007 to provide missions discipleship resources to the next generation of young women. The site features missional Bible studies and products, interactive blogs from six young adult women in different stages of life, and articles on such topics as prayer, social justice, time management, money and relationships. Read more at BPNews.net.

LifeWay surveys churches’ Lord’s Supper practices
(From LifeWay Christian Resources) The majority of Southern Baptist churches permit anyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ to participate in the Lord’s Supper, according to a survey by LifeWay Research. The survey of 1,066 SBC pastors found 96 percent of their churches allow individuals who are not members of that local church to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Only 4 percent restrict participation to local church members. The survey also revealed that 57 percent of SBC churches observe the Lord’s Supper quarterly. For more findings, go to lifewayresearch.com.