7 Sayings of Gen Z


Recently I am hearing more and more talk about Generation Z--those to follow Millennials--who are born after 1998. The size of this still-growing demographic already rivals that of the entire Millennial generation--approximately 70 million people in the United States.

Gen Z is the most diverse generation we have ever seen. By 2020 the census bureau estimates that over half of Gen Z will come from a minority race. Diversity is the norm.

Gen Z is still maturing, so we have a lot yet to learn about them and their still-forming way of life. And while I fear that we will be in such hurry to soak up as much as we can about Gen Z that we will stop learning about Millennials (who have yet to truly be understood by most people of other generations), I think it is helpful for the church to gain some insight on what we suspect will be true of the next emerging generation.

Below are seven sayings of Gen Z. I have kept them intentionally brief for the purpose of this blog. We at Burlap are nearing the release of an eBook that will dive more deeply into these sayings. These sayings are generalizations, of course, and of course will not characterize every aspect of every Gen Z person. As we continue to learn from--and with--Gen Z, we will keep you posted on our discoveries and suppositions.

  1. “Perfection is overrated. I don’t expect it from you and you shouldn’t expect it from me.”  It is not enough for us to be authentic. We must not demand perfection. We must allow their generation to have flaws and shortcomings—imperfections we don’t attempt to “fix,” but rather that lead us to grace and generosity towards all.  
  2. “I am not afraid to earn it, whatever ‘it’ is. Please don’t just give me anything, including the consolation trophy.”  Many people have stereotypically defined those in the Millennial generation as entitled. Gen Z is absolutely the opposite. Gen Z wants to do whatever it takes to earn their accolades and successes.
  3. “We care about our world. We care most about the humans in our world.”  Like Millennials, Gen Z cares a great deal for our world and working to make it a better place. However, on the top of their list are human rights. If there was ever a generation that will eliminate slavery, sex trafficking, homelessness, poverty, and the senseless displacement of people from their native lands, it will be Gen Z.
  4. “I expect you will live what you say you value. And make me live out what I say, too.”  Gen Z will not give you any rope. If they see any behavior that even remotely divorces your stated faith with your living faith, they’ll immediately assume--like so many they have already met, unfortunately--that you really don’t value the things you say you value. Along with that, Gen Z will expect you to hold them accountable to making sure their words match their actions.   
  5. “Social media is not merely entertainment. Yes, it is fun. However, each social platform I use has a different purpose for my life.”  Gen Z uses various social media platforms with specific purposes in mind. For example, they use Facebook to keep tabs on family and friends. They use Twitter for breaking news, Instagram for a memory bank, Snapchat to communicate with friends, and Pinterest and Tumblr for creativity and inspiration.
  6. “Who I am today may not be who I am tomorrow. Change, grow and adapt with me as my identity will always be evolving.”  Different from previous generations, Gen Z persons have crafted identities fashioned through integrated digital/personal lives. They collect the uniqueness they see in others and pair them with the uniqueness they have in their own lives and slowly and methodically fashion identities that are truly rare and often inimitable.
  7. “I am extreme in all that I am and all that I do. This, I believe, will break down walls and invite inclusion for all.”  Since rights for all humans ranks high on their social good list, it goes without saying that gen Z seeks to break down barriers that prohibit inclusiveness. They do this by living toward the edges of the extremes, be them conservative or progressive values or traditional values versus radical issues. Above all, gen Z wants to realize an inclusive world.

Again, we have much yet to learn from gen Z. The above seven sayings are merely suppositions based on anecdotal interactions with several hundred people this demographic. As our formal research is evaluated and scored, we will continue to share insights about this coming tidal wave.

Chris Folmsbee