I celebrated the “good news that a huge number in both…Gen Y & Z want to make a difference in our troubled times”…in my last book, Live Like You Give a Damn, Join the Changemaking Celebration.
While most pastors are aware that Pew Researchers tell us that Gen Y and Z are the “nones and the dones”, the generations that are increasingly choosing not to affiliate with the church, few seem to be aware of the good news they bring to this daunting time.
Because Gen Y and Z are the first digital generations, they are much more aware and concerned about environmental, racial and economic justice and a very high percentage of them really do “give a damn!”. I am convinced if we invited their desire to work for constructive change in our neighborhoods they might find our churches more interesting.
However, I am experiencing a growing sense of alarm for the future of Gen Y & Z as they are facing not only the Corona Pandemic but increasingly a global economic recession as well. Millennials launched their lives during the recession of 2008-2009 and there are many of them in their 40s that are still struggling to get their lives started. Numbers of them postponed getting married, starting families, going to college and purchasing homes.
This recession is likely to be much worse. It will continue to make it tough for millennials…headed into their 40s to get started. It could be even worse for Gen Z, numbers of whom will be graduating from college into a decade where employment is going to very hard to find. For those that didn’t go to college, it is going to be even tougher finding work and getting their lives started.
“We Need National Service. Now.”, declares David Brooks in his recent New York Times article. He makes a very compelling case for needing to influence the Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to put them to work in a national service program to help our country to recover from the twin crises of our most destructive pandemic and what could become our worst recession.
“Dr. Tom Friedman, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said we will need some 300,000 contact tracers alone. Senator Chris Coons has a bill working its way through the Senate that would double the number of AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 150,000.” They are providing a living wage and are trained in community empowerment. For example, a number of them are trained in educational empowerment and tutor in inner city schools.
Also, for students or recent grads looking for an opportunity to make a difference during the summer, there are a number of Christian opportunities. For example, InterVarsity Justice and Mission has summer opportunities. Responding as followers of Jesus to COVID-19, there are opportunities in the US and internationally that students or recent grads need to check out at InterVarsity’s Justice and Missions Program’s Response.
As we all learn to compassionately deal with the range of daunting challenges impacting us and our neighbors, it is urgently important that we we don’t forget Generation Next. A very high percentage of both Gen Y and Z would welcome the opportunity to be invited to groups like AmeirCorps or groups like Intervarsity to use their lives and gifts to make a little difference in times like these. Let’s all find ways to help them launch lives of compassionate changemaking in response to these turbulent times.
New book by Tom Sine and Dwight Friesen called 2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change will be released in September 2020 by Fortress Press.