From Carol Burnett to Gen Z: New resources to help you pastor younger generations

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From Carol Burnett to Gen Z: New resources to help you pastor younger generations

April 27, 2023 -

A group of Gen Z young adults stands in a circle, all using smartphones. © By By CarlosBarquero/

A group of Gen Z young adults stands in a circle, all using smartphones. © By By CarlosBarquero/

A group of Gen Z young adults stands in a circle, all using smartphones. © By By CarlosBarquero/

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have been born a hundred years ago or a hundred years from now?

Dr. Jim Denison, the cofounder and cultural theologian for Denison Forum, often reminds us that God has a spiritual purpose for our lives: to know Christ Jesus and make him known. 

Today, the movie Big George Foreman opens in theaters. It recounts the story of George Foreman from poverty to gold medalist to heavyweight boxing champion to now preacher and pastor. 

Foreman said that the best thing about life is not boxing, gold medals, or fame. The best thing is being an evangelist for Jesus. 

Amen to that. 

There is no better use of time and place.

Why you’re a pastor today

God also has a sovereign and good time and place for us to live out this purpose. 

Just this week, Dr. Denison said to me again, “If God could not use us in this place and time, we would not be alive in this place and time.” 

Life is a gift of God’s grace no matter when we get to live it. Still, I wonder what it would have been like to have lived and served as a pastor a century earlier compared to now. No internet, no personal computer, no smartphone, no color TV, no Zoom meetings, and no Whataburger or Chick-fil-a, two of my favorite fast food stops. 

Maybe I don’t want to live in another time and place.

The legacy of Carol Burnett

My wife and I stumbled into a Hollywood birthday party last night! 

We sat down with a sandwich and the remote after a full day of work. As we flipped channels, we landed on the two-hour birthday party celebrating Carol Burnett, who turned ninety yesterday, April 26. 

We both grew up with television, and Carol Burnett and her variety show were staples. We cherish memories of watching and laughing uncontrollably at The Carol Burnett Show, which ran for nine years starting in 1967. It was safe, fun, hilarious entertainment the whole family could enjoy. 

If you don’t know the work of Burnett and Tim Conway, you need to check it out. For almost seventy years, Carol Burnett has entertained audiences from LA to New York on stage, the big screen, and television. Her birthday party included tributes from long-time friends Julie Andrews and Cher to younger stars like Katy Perry, who sang Burnett’s iconic theme song to close the party.

Why do I bring this up? 

Because we share the planet with multiple generations. 

Our culture places a premium on youth, but people like Burnett remind us of what a life lived well looks like. She is a national treasure from the world of art and entertainment, the likes of which we need more of.

Understanding and appreciating different groups and generations is critical for ministry and for ministers. 

A free resource to pastor Gen Zers

Pastors continue to benefit from the work of sociologists, demographers, economists, and psychologists. Over the last year, the Denison Forum team, along with others, have been researching the uniquenesses and challenges of what is now labeled as Gen Z, those between the ages of ten to twenty-eight. 

Authors such as Dr. Jean Twenge and Mark Matlock have tabulated some amazing insights about this group, both those who engage in faith and church life, those who don’t, and those who use to.

Denison Forum has created and collected several resources to help you discover and minister to the Gen Z generation. Sometimes called “screenagers” because they have always had high-speed smartphones and use them six to eight hours a day, this group is also the primary subject of today’s social media experiment. 

Sadly, this generation is also showing rapidly rising rates of mental health challenges, including a disturbing increase in self-harm and suicide.

We are making these Gen Z pastoral resources available to pastors and churches. 

If you are not already on our email list for A Pastor’s View, please subscribe via this page. You will then receive an email with a link to our free downloadable resource, “What does Gen Z believe? And why we should care.”

We’ve also filmed this 30-minute discussion to accompany the paper, and you’ll note that further Gen Z resources are available on that page.

We encourage you to use and share these resources to help reach and re-reach this vital group in our culture.

While some of the characteristics of Gen Z are deeply concerning, there are also some great opportunities. Many Gen Zers are eager for relationships and mentoring from older generations. They are also indicating that they are very open to spiritual conversations. Those are opportunities today’s church and church leaders need to engage.

Please review these free resources, share them with others, and let us know how we can help you further as you seek to make disciples of all the nations and all the generations.

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