By: Kevin Dunning, Bellevue Christian Head of School (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A blog post from “A Few Good Minutes”
Some of my time this summer has been spent reading Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs, and Motivation Shaping the Next Generation, a Barna report produced in partnership with Impact 360 Institute. The Barna Group is the leading research organization tracking the role of faith in America. One of its major research emphasis is analyzing how different generations view matters that touch on faith and practice. Gen Z is the youngest of those generations, including people born between 1999 and 2015. Different researchers have referred to the group as iGen or more informally as “screenagers.” We refer to them as our students.
Barna researchers have for some time used the phrase “digital Babylon” to describe the significant impact of our always-connected technology. (The reference is to the Judean exiles during the Babylonian captivity, circa 6th century BCE). This impact is particularly in evidence with Gen Z. Barna found that more than half of this group spends four hours or more using screen media.
Other findings are startling. Just four percent of Gen Z have a Christian worldview as Barna defines it. More than four in ten equate financial success with happiness. Only a third of Gen Z believe that family is core to their identity. These examples represent a clear break from the characteristics of older generations and add to the evidence that we are truly living in a post-Christian nation.
Post-Christianity is the loss of the primacy of the Christian worldview in political affairs, especially in the Western world where Christianity had previously flourished, in favor of alternative worldviews such as secularism or nationalism (Wikipedia). Christian thinker and writer G.K. Chesterton once described the United States as “a nation with a soul of a church.” It would be hard to argue that description is accurate today. Societal values have changed on a whole range of issues. In most cases, the change has been to move away from the values espoused in a Judeo-Christian ethic.
That is contrary to the assertion of the BCS mission statement. God’s values are unchanging. They are declared throughout Scripture and lived out in the life of Christ. Only when we embrace those values can we truly live an abundant life.
However, that is not the message Gen Z is likely hearing from secular culture. While it is getting difficult to insulate young people from those messages, Christian schools can at least offer a competing storyline and prepare students who embrace faith in Christ with the tools to thrive in our increasingly antagonistic world.
Teaching for Transformation, a framework for instruction we adopted a few years ago, is one of the ways we help our students develop a Christian worldview, but there are other ways as well. I hope to use this space to share more about Gen Z and the challenges we face as Christian parents and educators.