The fate of the rising generation scares the living daylights out of some people. For others, GenZ is a sign of hope for the future—especially for the church. Ok, let’s be real. We are talking about students. There is always an element of fear. But I think it is safe to say that no matter where you fall on the spectrum, we all care—to one degree or another—about our students, the world they are entering, what influences them, and for the church—how we can best raise up the next generation of Jesus followers.
But here is the thing. Our world is getting faster. It is getting more informed. As it gets larger, technology brings us closer. While there have been incredible advances in western culture, we are beginning to discover there is a cost to those advances. In nearly every aspect of our lives, there is a cost.
I was recently speaking with a group of high school student leaders. They were sharing with me some of their challenges and what they wish their leaders would understand. I reminded them that they are faced with emotional, spiritual, and intellectual challenges that adults could never have conceived of when they were teens. We can do our best to empathize, but we will always be limited in our understanding. Which is why every youth leader, parent, coach, pastor, small group leader, etc. needs every available tool at our disposal to help see as complete of a picture as possible of the next generation.
Enter the new book by Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace, So The Next Generation Will Know: Preparing Young Christians for a Challenging World. Both of these guys are experts in Christian apologetics and youth culture, and they are consistently on the cutting edge of how to disciple the next generation. They have teamed up to give us a book that ought to be required reading for anyone leading youth. But let’s be honest, while there is plenty of good research on our students; and many have created some great books on the subject, Sean and Jim have given us an incredibly practical tool. This book is not another philosophical rant on the state of youth in western culture, but a down to earth how-to guide in actual discipleship.
So The Next Generation Will Know lays out for us the basics of Generation Z and the challenges we are facing with our students–and it’s not all doom and gloom. Sean and Jim are sure to point out the hope we ought to have in our youth and how we ought to connect with them on a heart level. And of course, no McDowell book would be complete without a discussion—although brief—on worldviews. But for me, section two is really where this book separates itself from the pack.
No matter how many youth leaders, parents, and teachers I talk to, nearly every single one has a deep concern over how to effectively communicate truth with love and grace. We often feel like if we just explain things well enough, or entertain them enough for long enough, students will stick around long enough to get them through the rough teen and young adult years. But we all know this approach isn’t working.
This book masterfully blends head knowledge about what truth is, the experiences that help shape that reality with the relationships bind it together and drive it home. It is impossible to read this book and not immediately change something in your ministry or home. You’’ feel more confident in engaging your students, have more empathy, and most of all are ready with ideas to move them forward in their faith.