Between the Lines


This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a coming-of-age series at church known as “Discovery.” It’s a yearly weekend event where incoming sixth graders are introduced to the youth program and welcomed in by the older students.

I know we give this younger generation a hard time for being “digitally superficial,” “overly sensitive,” and “socially disconnected.” Now these are not my words, but terms referenced in a Google search for “Gen Z Characteristics.”

As I age, the gap between myself and these youngsters obviously widens. I am quickly becoming the “middle-aged guy who tries to be funny” from my former identity as the “younger guy who is still cool” (*insert my tears).

My point, as I ramble, is that I saw a refreshing and reassuring side to our youth this weekend. Over the course of two very full days, I witnessed students, ranging in age from 11 to 19, work seamlessly together in an environment fostering love, support, individualism, and acceptance.

Now I remember being a teenager and those four words did not often appear when we herded together. But as I floated around (I was a team leader by-the-way) from activity to activity, the same attitudes existed: these kids were living in the moment, loving their peers openly and unabashedly. They prayed for each other, laughed and cried, expressed joy and sadness, and connected.

My point is, I have realized that I need to cut Generation Z, and our youth in general, a break. They are way deeper than I ever imagined; they understand far more than I thought they could; and they accept individuals far better than any generation before them.

To wrap up the weekend, a Justin Bieber song lyric kept repeating in my head. Perhaps it was a subliminal attempt to stay youthfully relevant, but none-the-less it’s fitting:

“I believe in God and God believes in us.”

-Richard Phillips