New methods for new youth
Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World
James Emery White
Review by Stefan Klassen
What is the subject?
This book is very specifically about understanding and reaching to the newest generation of people. That generation, referred to as “Z,” would include anyone born after 1996. The author is profoundly aware that the young people today do not have any faith background and as a result, evangelism needs to take on a whole new perspective.
Who is the author?
James Emery White is the founding pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church, a Baptist megachurch in suburban Charlotte, North Carolina.
What appealed to you about this book?
Those who we once considered nominally Christian are declining; now more than ever, we see an increase in the secular. As someone who works with children and youth, I feel it is important to be as educated as possible to minister to them.
Comment on the book’s theological perspective in light of the MB Confession of Faith:
The author views Scripture as the primary authority on Christian faith and advocates strongly that “transformation of the message must be avoided at all costs.” Instead, he considers all Christians tasked with the mission of evangelism and sharing the gospel by translating it to others by living it out. This means speaking regularly of heaven, hell, the cross and not avoiding difficult areas of Scripture.
“Lukewarm religion holds little value in the midst of a settling secularism.”
If leaders and teachers today have any hope of reaching the young people, more people need to be modelling faithful living. Generation Z will only be reached by a message that is clear and passionate. If they do not see people living it out, they will not even entertain it.
What you disagreed with:
In the final chapter, the author gives examples of good evangelism practices. One practice he recommends is essentially to ignore the women of the congregation and focus on the men. “If you get the man, you get everyone else within his orbit – specifically his wife and children.” This strikes me as at the very least short-sighted, if not sexist.
Other relevant information:
While not expressly indicated, this seems very much like a follow up of the author’s previous work The Rise of the Nones. White also uses much statistical analysis from a variety of demographic sources interspersed throughout the book.
Who should read it?
This book offers key resources valuable to anyone who seeks to share their faith with someone under 20. This should be of great interest to pastors and youth ministers who need to be aware of how the culture of their communities are changing.
“For Generation Z, the idea of ‘acceptance’ is often interchangeable with the idea of ‘affirmation’”
“Evangelism’s most common context may be online”
“The goal is not to be enemy-free, as if Christianity at its purest is so winsome and compelling that no one who ‘gets it’ will ever reject it. No the gospel is scandalous and offensive…. We are not to embody culture but the Christian counterculture.”
[Stefan Klassen, pastoral apprentice at Crossroads MB Church, Winnipeg. A participant in MBCM’s Elevation initiative Stefan is also enrolled at MB Seminary, working toward a master in Christian ministry.