Why Gen Z’s Call for ‘Safe Spaces’ Is Good News for Churches
February 27, 2018
New expectations may shift youth group conversations, but Christ still provides the answer.
One of the defining characteristics for today’s teens—who have grown up in a constantly connected, socially evolving world—is their desire for “safe spaces,” settings where they can expect inclusivity without fear of judgment.
In recent weeks, in the wake of the latest school shooting, we’ve also seen this generation speaking out for literal safe spaces.
The youth movement against gun violence reflects broader desires for safety and risk aversion among Generation Z—some of the characteristics making them distinct from even the millennials of the previous decade.
This aspect of the Gen Z worldview often gets maligned by older generations, who sometimes dismiss safe spaces and trigger warnings as a result of an oversensitive “snowflake mentality.” However, youth leaders increasingly see the motivations beneath these values—care for others and compassion to understand others’ experiences—as significant for Christian ministry.
News coverage around the Parkland, Florida, shooting has shown us a new dimension to America’s youngest generation. Instead of viewing students through the lens of their social media dependency or pop culture proclivities, we saw them making headlines for challenging lawmakers on gun policy, speaking out on issues that matter to them, and rallying peers to their cause. (True to their stereotypes, Snapchat and other social media have played a significant role in this wave of activism.)
The current attention drawn to America’s youth gives church leaders an opportunity to better understand their motivations, fear, and convictions and prepare to address relevant issues in youth ministry settings as well.