5 Reasons Why Youth Workers Should Learn Now About Generation Alpha
Time flies – that’s for sure!
It seemed like we were just talking about the Millennial Generation and their mark on culture, when Generation Z came along. Millennials were the ones who were going to change everything – especially the way we did ministry. But then we were told to adjust our strategies because the new generation, Gen Z, would see life differently, and it would take new methodologies to reach them.
Of course, there is something particularly important about staying culturally relevant. Youth workers, maybe more than other ministry leaders, must understand the cultural influences that our students are experiencing while staying true to the teaching and practice of Biblical principles.
Our youth ministry forefathers led the way for us. Robert Raikes, the founder of the Sunday School movement in the 1700s, looked at what was happening in society and launched a ministry to reach kids by teaching them the Bible. Visionary leaders like Jack Wyrtzen and Percy Crawford in New York City and Torrey Johnson in Chicago rented stadiums to host youth rallies in the 1940s to reach an emerging youth culture with the Gospel. About the same time, para-church organizations like Young Life and Youth for Christ began to connect with kids in America’s communities and public schools.
Christian colleges offered youth ministry majors and churches hired vocational youth pastors. Curriculum publishers produced youth materials and books, and youth ministry organizations, like Youth Specialties, became a part of a new youth ministry movement with the grand purpose to reach a new generation.
But times changed and teenagers changed. Baby Boomers were replaced by the members of Generation X, who were followed by Millennials and then Generation Z. Now it’s time for youth workers to realize that a new generation of young people is on the cultural horizon.
The leading edge of “Generation Alpha” (their name coined by Australian researcher, Mark McCrindle) are this year’s 11-year-olds. They are the age group born between 2010–2025, and will be the first generation to be born entirely in the 21st Century. Alphas are likely to be the generation most affected by COVID-19 and are growing up in a world quite different than any other previous generation.
Today’s youth workers are facing a new opportunity to develop culturally relevant and Biblically-based ministries for a new generation of students. In three short years, the first wave of Generation Alpha will be teenagers. In ten years they will be young adults and will be the generation everyone is talking about. It is imperative that youth workers understand that they need to learn all they can now about our newest generation.
Why Learn About Generation Alpha Now?
Here are five reasons why youth workers must make it a priority to learn about Alphas now:
- Today’s children will grow up. This sounds too obvious, but it’s true. One of the most important reasons to connect with pre-teens is because it is easier to reach them while they are young. If we do not build positive relationships with them now, there is a real likelihood that they will grow up without an important Godly influence on their lives.
- Many kids make lasting spiritual decisions when they are young. It has been true for several generations. Most people make spiritual decisions while they are young. One researcher says that nine out of ten Christians accept Jesus before the age of 18. Church leaders would be advised to develop intentional and culturally relevant ways to creatively share the Gospel with today’s kids.
- Generation Alpha is part of your congregation now. Too often youth leaders ignore their church’s ministry to children until they get to be teenagers. Of course, many youth workers are busy and don’t need anything else on their plates. But strategically, it is important to understand that today’s youngest generation is already a key target group for your youth ministry in the near future.
- Reaching kids helps churches connect with today’s households. Today’s children are growing up in a rapidly changing culture. Demographics reveal a growing number of non-traditional and dysfunctional households. Taking the initiative to share the Gospel with kids might give churches the opportunity to connect with those households in our communities.
- Children are trend-setters and are great predictors of the future. Maybe the most important reason for today’s youth workers to learn all they can about Generation Alpha is that kids are trend-setters with the ability to influence the future. Advertisers understand this and are targeting children now with a wide range of products and services. Real leaders understand the importance of being able to anticipate upcoming trends and develop ways to connect with people as time progresses.
Before we know it, a new generation will be a part of our ministries. Like other age groups, Generation Alpha has the potential to make a significant change in culture and in our churches. Youth workers should be observers of cultural trends and should be visionary leaders who see the importance of developing relevant and effective ways to reach Alphas now.
- When God Shows Up: A History of Protestant Youth Ministry in America, Mark H. Senter III, published by Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, 2010.
- Evangelism Is Most Effective Among Kids
- 5 Big Ideas For Ministry To Increasingly Dysfunctional Households
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.