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Gen Z Likely to Take Guidance from Caring Adults

The Springtide Research Institute recently surveyed more than 10,000 Americans ages 13 to 25 (Generation Z) about their religious views and involvement. What surprised the researchers are the views of those who claim to be affiliated with a mainstream religion.

Josh Packard, executive director of Springtide, reveals: “They’re checking the box that says they are Jewish or Catholic or whatever, but over half of them are saying, ‘even though I checked the box, I don’t trust organized religion.’ This is sort of stunning and not what you would expect from somebody who checked the box.”

The report advises more one-on-one mentoring between adults and youth:

They also respond to “relational authority,” which means authority that is not based on hierarchy or titles so much as a genuine interest in young people as individuals. 4 in 5 Gen Z members surveyed said they were likely to take guidance from adults who care about them.

The report pinpoints five values that characterize this relational authority: listening, transparency, integrity, care, and expertise. (Expertise comes last on the list intentionally, because 65% of young people say an adult’s expertise doesn’t matter unless the adult cares for them. Listening comes first in establishing a genuine, non-transactional relationship.)


Jana Riess, “Gen Z is lukewarm about religion, but open to relationships,” Religious News Service (12-21-20)

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