The newest generation has been called the Homelander Generation. The children of this generation are now in our children’s ministries. Some other names people have used for this generation are Generation-Z, New Silent, i Generation, Generation-M (multi-tasking or millennial), and Generation-Q (quiet). These children were born sometime between 2003 and 2021. The experts disagree what year the generation starts. But they do agree that this generation is growing up in an overprotective atmosphere.
Some other characteristics of the generation:
- Computer technology is commonplace.
- Formative years were during the rise of the World Wide Web.
- Accustomed to instant gratification due to technology.
- No memory of (or nostalgia for) pre-Internet history.
- Takes the Internet for granted.
- Accepts as norm services such as Internet forums, email, Wikipedia, Google, search engines, MySpace, Facebook, image boards and YouTube.
- Mass collaboration via net communities.
- Lack of privacy.
- Expect to speak to an audience, even in personal communication.
- Familiarity with anonymous criticism.
This is what the experts are saying about the Homelander Generation.
The Homelander Generation will not be team players.
Generations tend to cycle. Generations who work as team players usually are followed by a generation of individualists.
Millennials are team-players. They’re so team-oriented they feel nothing is accomplished unless they work at it as a group. But the Homelander Generation won’t be that way. One reason is because kids in this generation has been given unusual names. Names are important, and common names help people fit in and be part of a group. Uncommon names make people feel different and encourage them to think of themselves more as individuals.
The Homelander Generation will be more self-directed.
Millennials have been overparented. They’re the good kids who don’t know what to do unless they’re told. Generatio- X was left to its own devices by parents and became very self-directed. Now there’s a trend to back up when it comes to parenting. Although this generation’s less-focused parenting is not as extreme as with Generation-X, the Homelander Generation will be more self-directed than Millennials are.
The Homelander Generation will process information quickly.
This is the generation that will never know what it’s like to live in the computer information age. Because of this, they adapt to deal more efficiently with more information. This generation will be so good at processing information they will open doors we can only knock on today.
The Homelander Generation will be smarter.
Millennials have been the most educated generation in U.S. history. But the next generation could be even smarter.
Here are some things to consider when ministering to the Homelander Generation.
A recent study from Knowledge Networks/SRI titled “How Children Use Media Technology” reveals 61 percent of children 8–17 have televisions in their rooms, 35 percent have video games and 14 percent have a DVD player. Seventy-five percent of those who have a television in their room report multitasking with other media. With the rise of broadband and wireless access, these numbers are destined to move upward.
That means we can’t do ministry using the same media we used twenty years ago. Flannelgraphs, video slides, overhead projectors and tape machines are the dinosaurs of present day-ministry. While we can’t keep up with all of the technological advances of today’s world, we do need to educate ourselves as much as we can. Fortunately computer technology is more affordable than it ever was.
If this technology is beyond you, seek the help of a teenager in your church. Also work with your pastor to set up a budget for things like video projectors, iPods that hook in your sound system, and video cameras with video editing programs. You may not be able to enter the twenty-first century all at once, but work toward getting there.
Homelanders process bits of information at an amazing speed. This can be a good thing for ministry. You can teach this new generation more of God’s Word than their predecessors could have ever taken in at their age. But you’ll have to do it in a different way. Teach these children information in small bite-size bits. Don’t dwell on any one thing for more than five minutes at a time, or you’ll lose the generation that in on informational overload. Also, repeat important concepts often to keep them from getting lost with all the other info bites Homelanders have to deal with.
Homelanders are self-directed, while Millinnials are more team players. This means you’ll want to gear your children’s ministry for more individualized projects for children and less projects where children work as a team.
One example of this might be a missions fundraiser. Millennials would prefer to do a fundraiser where they all work together as a team, such as a car wash or a bake sale. Homelanders might prefer a contest where each of them comes up with their own project to earn funds.
Also, since Homelanders are self-directed, focus on what they can do to make a decision to serve God as individuals. Also, because they think as individuals and not a collective, one-on-one time through home visits, phone calls and email becomes more important.
Millennials are known risk-takers, but it looks like Homelanders will be more cautious. Because of this, they may need more encouragement when it comes to riskier Christian activities, like witnessing to their friends.