It’s Official: Gen Z is the loneliest generation on record, lacking authentic spaces for a solid youth community.
New studies are showing how 8.2 million US teens are spending time with their friend. It turns out, since 1970, today’s teens are socializing with friends in fundamentally different ways — and they also happen to be the loneliest generation on record.
Compared with teenagers in previous decades, Gen Z teens are less likely to get together with their friends. They’re also less likely to go to parties, go out with friends, date, ride in cars for fun, go to shopping malls, or go to the movies.
It’s not because they are spending more time on work, homework, or extracurricular activities. Instead today’s teens have fewer paid jobs, same or even less time spent on homework, and is equally involved in extracurricular activities.
Yet they’re spending less time with their friends in person — and by large margins. In the late 1970s, 52 percent of 12th-graders got together with their friends almost every day. By 2017, only 28 percent did. So what is it causing this change? (https://www.inverse.com/article/54264-gen-z-teens-are-lonelier-than-ever-before)
What then, is causing a decreased sociability and increased levels of loneliness?
Ask any teen today how they communicate with her friends, and they’ll likely hold up there smartphone. Not that they actually call their friends; instead they’re sending texts or messaging them on social media. BOOM!
So what’s the Solution?
Two words: “AUTHENTIC COMMUNITY”
Our generation is hungering honest and authentic community. We are the most digitally connected yet relationally isolated. It’s such a prevalent problem school districts are allocating large amounts of funds to counteract this by budgeting for “community building activities”. How can we as the church similarly meet the call to tackling this growing problem?
Enter Youth Ministry.
We believe that youth ministry is positioned to come alongside this lonely generation of teens like never before.
By creating a place where every single student that walks through our doors and every single student we see on campus, at their games, their plays, know that they are known, loved and that they matter.
“I recently spoke at a large youth group in Cupertino, Ca. When I walked in the leaders had baskets out and they encouraged students to put their phones into them while the youth group was happening. What I noticed is almost all the students were engaged in the worship and the teaching. They weren’t constantly checking their phone every 5 seconds. It was novel.”
Chuck Wysong, Executive Director of Mission Springs
We asked some teenagers recently, what they thought was the answer to loneliness. They said:
- School – It keeps you off your phone during the day.
- Community service – getting out and serving others.
- Youth Groups – Getting out of the house and hanging with our friends.
- Sports – Being a part of a team.
- Band – Being with a group making music.
what do you think other answers might be?
How do you create “Authentic Youth Community?”
The Bible teaches in Hebrews 10:25, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
How can we turn a “Group” into a “Community”?
Stay Tuned for 3 Powerful ways to build Authentic Community and if you missed Youth Community Part 1 check it out!