Vol. 4 Issue 05 | February 2, 2018
Three Things This Week
1. Snap Store
What it is: The newest feature to hit the wildly popular Snapchat app is an online store where users can purchase Snapchat swag.
Why it’s a start: The store went live yesterday with hats, t-shirts, and sweatshirts. Other brands and merchandise directly marketed to teens will be on the platform soon. Don’t expect it to replace Amazon just yet, but it will be interesting to see how Snapchat markets to Gen Z, who spend nearly $44 billion annually on products.
2. Super Sunday
Why it’s not just a game: If you want to know what a culture values, look at what it celebrates. The Super Bowl is America’s second largest holiday next to Christmas. Why? They both embody two foundational attributes of modern life: entertainment and rampant consumerism. We’ll tune in not just to see Tom Brady, but also Justin Timberlake and the myriad of $5 million ads selling this year’s version of the good life. Our consumer society is a formation system and a worldview. It affects more than how we shop; it also influences how we think, feel, and love. It seems like everything and everybody is up for sale. We’re increasingly living in a culture that “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” But let’s be honest, it’s still fun to gather with friends, eat chips, and root against the Patriots! This year, do it with a discerning eye. Pick your favorite commercial, talk about why you like it, and, most importantly, see if you can ascertain what they’re really selling (love, happiness, perfection, fame, etc.) and why that matters. Finally, here are 8 ways to start a conversation with your kids about consumerism.
3. Every Day
What it is: Based on David Levithan’s New York Times bestseller releasing February 23, this can’t-miss teen movie tells the story of Rhiannon, a 16-year-old girl who falls in love with “A,” a soul that inhabits a different body every single day.
Why it’s a bit Gnostic: Talk about a weird version of Groundhog Day! The movie centers on Rhiannon and A finding each other every day and coming to terms with the fact that on some days A is a boy and on other days A is a girl. In many ways, the movie communicates an early Christian heresy known as Gnosticism. It taught that the body was inferior, irrelevant, and irredeemable. But in Christianity you don’t get a soul that is not specifically embodied. That’s what makes the bodily resurrection of Jesus so theologically significant. Our matter really matters to God. Ask your teen, “What makes you, you?” Then ask, “If you had a different body, would you still be you? Why or why not?”
Meet the Next, Next Generation
Born between 1999 and 2015, Gen Z is growing up defined and discipled by the smartphone—in fact, they’ve never known the world apart from one. But who are they really? What makes them different from Millennials? And what do they value and believe? Our friends at Barna, in partnership with Impact 360 Institute, recently completed a new study investigating the perceptions, experiences, and motivations of Generation Z. Here are their latest findings:
- Technology: The internet is at the core of Gen Z’s development, influencing their worldview, mental health, daily schedule, sleep patterns, relationships, and more. 57% use screen media 4 hours or more on an average day.
- Worldview: Gen Z is highly inclusive and individualistic. Defined by religious and cultural pluralism, this diverse, open-minded group of young people is sensitive to others’ feelings and experiences, and wary of asserting any one view as right or wrong. According to Barna’s eight-part definition, only 4% have a biblical worldview.
- Identity: Their assorted views on gender identity and expression are just one way teens are wrestling with how to accept and affirm other people, to create “safe space” where each person can be her/himself without feeling threatened or judged.
- Security: Gen Z has come of age in a post-9/11 nation reeling from the 2008 recession, and many of them are anxious about their future. Their goals revolve around professional success and financial security, and a majority says their ultimate aim is “to be happy”—which 43% define as financial success.
- Diversity: As the most racially, religiously, and sexually diverse generation in American history, Gen Z expects people to have different beliefs and experiences, and they seem to have a greater appreciation for social inclusiveness compared to generations before them.
- Parents: As the offspring of mostly Gen X parents, many in Gen Z appear to have a complicated dynamic with their families. They admire their parents, but most don’t feel family relationships are central to their sense of self—a major departure from other generations. Only 34% say that family is central to their identity, compared to 40% of Millennials.
If the way your child thinks and engages her world is confusing, we understand! Changes in technology, communication, science, and law are creating a brave new world for today’s teens. Barna’s new book Gen Z helps us understand more about this generation, offering contributions from ministry practitioners and educators who share insights from their own vantage points. It’s a must-read for pastors, teachers, and parents seeking to disciple this generation into lifelong faith.
Bonus!: Does your teen have doubts about their faith? Do you realize doubt can be a good thing in the journey toward spiritual formation? Check out our Parent’s Guide to a Doubting Teen to learn more about the apologetics behind our faith.
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Christmas is around the corner and I want to remind you that the best gift for any occasion is the Rubik’s Cube puzzle.