A New Name for Generation Z: Plurals

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There is a new label for Generation Z: “plurals” or a “pluralist generation.”

According this Washinton Post interview of researcher Morley Winograd of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School's Center on Communication Leadership and Policy:

“Plurals are known to value compromise...a byproduct of their diversity and comfort with working with peers from different backgrounds. They are also in line to be an “adaptive” generation. These cohorts tend to come right after disruptive generations that change society in significant ways, such as millennials. When adaptive groups come of age, they take the problems that were brought to light by their predecessors and try to work them out.”

The focus of the interview centers on Gen Z’s response to the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Winograd embraces the thesis that one generation’s crisis is the next generation’s opportunity, and believes that whereas Millennials dealt with the immediate fallout from tragedies like Columbine, Gen Z may respond differently at the level of politics and come up with new solutions to old problems. They’ve seen the script play out for school shootings before and far too often, and rather than offering the same responses may seek alternatives.

If Winograd is right, or at least onto something, this may be a dynamic that translates to other challenges. Rather than seeing this phenomenon narrowly, broaden the focus. What challenges or issues have plagued the church during the age of Millennials that Generation Z may actively try to solve? If Millennials have disengaged from congregational life and increased their level of skepticism regarding Christianity, how might the insights and activism of Generation Z help church leaders to discern creative and refreshing solutions to helping their generation (and the one that follows them) hear and respond to the gospel in new ways?

One way to find out is to ask for their help. Ask them to help you identify challenges that the church faces in reaching their families, peers, and neighbors. Then, ask them how those challenges could be answered. They may not offer detailed plans or clear solutions to every problem, but they might give you some ideas or insights you can incorporate into your strategy. They may offer you language or understanding that you do not now possess. And they may also see themselves as partners in the gospel, people who can help you, rather than as consumers of religious goods and services.