Inspiring Generosity


Getting to Know Generation Z
After last week's blog post about the impact the Doxology had on me, I received the following email:
Cesie, I don’t always read your stewardship pieces, and I certainly don’t respond each time I do. This morning this one invited my own gratitude to well up. I didn’t even have to hear the Doxology, just had to let you remind me of standing in the community, facing the cross and the altar/table, to feel the fullness of the faith community. I was bishop in Denver when the terrible earthquake struck Haiti. An UMCOR staff person [and member of the Rocky Mountain Conference], Jim Gulley, was trapped for over 50 hours with others in the rubble left when the Hotel Montana collapsed. UMCOR director, Sam Dixon was crushed and dying with his colleagues nearby. Jim reports that as they were finally being rescued, those colleagues sang — the Doxology…   
Thanks for inviting me to think, remember and reflect.
Bishop Elaine J.W Stanovsky
Music can help us consider who we are and whose we are and it is powerful.

           Gen Zers are passionate. Clay Banks@Upsplash

Now…getting to know Generation Z.
According to the Pew Research Center, those belonging to “Gen Z,” were born after 1996 and are currently 25 years old. The youngest Gen Zers were born in 2015 and are six years old (wow!).
Pew finds older Gen Zers are:

- more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations.

- on track to be the best educated generation yet.

- have similar viewpoints on many social issues of the day with Millennials.

- have sharp differences with their elders in the Republican Party.

- See family and societal change as a good thing.

- Are familiar and comfortable with using gender-neutral pronouns.

A month ago, I listened to the Lewis Center for Church Leadership’s Leading Ideas podcast: “Understanding Generation Z and Connecting with their Passions.”  (If you don’t already subscribe to the Leading Ideas newsletter/podcasts – you’re missing out.) The featured speaker on this particular podcast was Ohio Wesleyan University President, Rock Jones.
President Jones made these observations about Gen Zers who are attending college:

- They’re likely to be social entrepreneurs. They want to make a difference. This is a generation that lives with its passion, leads with its passion.
- They care deeply about diversity and inclusion. But that focus on inclusion also makes them collaborative team players. And so, this is a generation of people who like to work with others.
- This is the generation of digital natives. They don’t remember life without an iPhone. They don’t remember a life without being deeply connected. And so, they have relationships with people they have never been physically present with, and those people can be anywhere on the planet. And as a result, this is a generation that cares deeply about the planet.

- This is a generation who, while deeply connected, also feels anxiety. And with that anxiety they can feel alienation, paradoxically. They report levels of loneliness higher than any other generation. Again, that paradox of being deeply connected and yet lonely and anxious.
How can you make a difference in the life of a Gen Zer? First of all, remember that not all Gen Zers go to college and those young adults most likely have the same yearnings as the students at Ohio Wesleyan. They may want to grapple with life’s big questions in a safe space like the church. Invite them into conversation.
The church can be a place where Gen Zers can:
- Be social entrepreneurs.
- Start new ministries.
- Be valued for the gifts they bring to the table.
- Find connection with people from all generations.
- Be asked to be leaders.
- Share their opinion and have it heard.

The local church has the potential to offer Generation Z a sense of place and purpose. It may take some willingness to learn Gen Z's language, appreciate their music, listen intently to them, and (speaking to myself) stop finger-wagging about them being on their phones. We have much to learn and even more to gain in taking the time to really understand and appreciate Generation Z.
Open hearts, open minds, open doors: welcome in Gen Z.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. For nearly 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. The #1 Song on the Billboard Chart today? Rapstar by Polo G. This is the clean version – you’re welcome. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.


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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.