It was a rough year in 2020 and Gen Zers are just as eager as the rest of the world to leave it behind. But maybe we should all slow down before teachable moments from the past year are lost in the hustle and bustle of a new one.
During our family’s annual pancake dinner on New Year’s Eve, on one of those rare occasions when all six of us kids were gathered together in our parents’ dining room, we were asked a series of questions that allowed us to reflect on our experiences from the past year.
Dad had us share a few highlights from 2020. There was an engagement, new friends, success in their sports endeavors, new skills learned, and more time spent with family.
He also gave us space to process some of the difficulties and trials we had faced. A lost job. Drama with friends. Fear. Anxiety. Missing loved ones. Loneliness. Sickness.
And then he asked us to share how God had grown us in our relationship with him and how he had increased our faith through the storms we weathered.
Together, we reflected on all that God had accomplished in, through, and around us. We reminded one another of the truths of scripture and preached the hope of the gospel to each other. It was brief, and soon my siblings were asking to be excused from the table and move on to their kitchen chores--but not before expressing their hope for a better year.
The chaos of 2020 and the brokenness it highlighted in our world provide the perfect opportunity to engage cross-generationally in the church. Young and old alike were thrust into uncertain circumstances that tested both our patience and our faith. As bodies of believers, we had to adapt to COVID restrictions and explore new ways to do ministry in our communities. And many of us have experienced loss of employment, loss of loved ones, loss of financial security--and the list goes on.
And while we can pray for a better year, a more peaceful year, a more prosperous year, it is too small, too limited a desire. Because our hope is not in the new year, but in the God whose mercies are new each morning.
Older generations need to remind Gen Z of this truth and Gen Z needs to encourage older generations with this reality. Engaging one another in conversation, preaching the gospel to each other, serving together, and communicating the truths of God’s Word are all activities that can bridge the generational gaps that exist in our congregations and draw us closer to the Lord and one another in this new year.
Let’s communicate well in 2021, recognizing that the same God who sustained us through 2020 will continue to lead, guide, and sanctify us as we hope in him.
TESSA LANDRUM is a senior at Cedarville University and a Kentucky Baptist who is a member of Unity Baptist Church in Ashland. She is writing a monthly column on Generation Z.