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Book Review – Meet Generation Z by James Emery White

February 23, 2017

Despite his multiple books on reaching new generations with the Gospel (including Rise of the Nones and Rethinking the Church), and his role as former president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, I had never read any of James Emery White’s work. I am eager to go back and read others after reading this concise, readable and practical introduction to the generation born after 1997 and how to reach them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Drawing on research from the Pew Research Center, White summarizes in the first three chapters the demographic and religious (or lack thereof) characteristics of generation Z, in contrast to previous generations of North American Christians.  The reason White believes this generation, which began  college in 2015, is significant is because they represent 25.9% of the American population and are the first truly post-Christian generation (though late Millenials, ie born after 1990, could also be described as post-Christian). Thus, a new approach to evangelizing Generation Z is necessary.

Chapters 4-8 describe this Acts 17, rather than Acts 2, paradigm shift. Not only does White present a good theology of the Church (as one might expect from a pastor and seminary president), he also provides insight with sensitivity. Furthermore, his examples are incredibly practical. He illustrates the need to define church language that previous generations understood, by drawing on a movie scene that perfectly depicts the ignorance of prayer. In speaking of the need to translate the gospel into the language of Generation Z, he shares about Mecklenberg Community Church presented the Christmas story using emojis. These are just two of the thoughtful yet concrete ways he shows the church composed of believers of all ages, can build bridges with Generation Z.

I highly recommend this book to all Christians, especially church leaders, seeking to understand and connect in meaningful ways to Generation Z. As a professor who teaches students of this generation, I also find it stimulating, challenging, and inspiring.

Note: This book was provided to the reviewer free of charge by Baker Books and by Graf-Martin Publications for an unbiased blog review.

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