I remember when one of the most pressing topics in the church world – the one that all the important people were concerned about – was about the rise of the Millennials and the urgency of questioning everything we took for granted in order to reach them for the Gospel. Now that Millennials have been relegated to being Boomers, the new topic for important people is Gen Z/iGen and how they’re changing the world for better and for worse.
Solomon would find our modern obsessions with generations ridiculous. While there is plenty to gain from demographic research and study (something I infrequently study myself), there is a modern hysteria to recent generations that bestows near-messianic expectations for hope and change upon the new generation, or concludes this new generation is the one to bring about the apocalypse. For those of us who are Millennials, we are beginning to see – as does every generation older than us – that “a generation goes and a generation comes”, and the fanfare of hope and expectation for the promised generation that will be rid of sexism, racism, and every other social malady will soon be redirected to the generation that comes after Gen Z once Gen Z grows up to become adults with problems like the rest of their Millennial and Boomer counterparts.
As Jean M. Twenge, author of the outstanding book “iGen”, states, “some generation changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both.” One generational constant, however, is that no generation remains forever. Scientific progress and historical development notwithstanding, each generation will rise, and each generation will fade, as has every generation that has come before ours. When we take away the microscope, we might be surprised to find that these generations have more in common than we perhaps give them credit, and while there are legitimate differences, there are not only differences. In fact, if the book of Ecclesiastes speaks to the entire human condition across space and time, perhaps there is some common ground Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z could all identify with here – and if we can find common ground in this book, what about the rest of Scripture?