Book Review: So the Next Generation Will Know
Many have heard the statistics before, 50-75% of our youth are leaving the faith during college. However, it seems “the church” is not listening. In their new book, So the Next Generation will Know, Sean McDowell and J Warner Wallace have gone a step beyond the statistics. “This book is different” (p.26)
“In the church, we talk about our beliefs more commonly as matters of faith than matters of knowledge. Yet quite interestingly, the word knowledge (or a derivate such as know) appears more frequently in Scripture than faith. Biblically speaking, we are called to trust God with faith. But this faith is not blind—it is based on what we know to be true.” (p.88).
From the Foreword, written by NFL quarterback Nick Foles, to the Appendix, this book is an easy to read, hands on, necessity for pastors, parents, educators and anyone remotely interested in Gen Z, (those born between 2000 – 2015).
The book provides the reader with “hands on” opportunities from the beginning. Interactive activities are included throughout. For example, most chapters provide an exercise such as “Ask a Few Questions” (p.33), “Two Why’s for Every What”, (p. 133), and “Something Time worthy”, (p.176) to name a few.
“Challenges require a response, and the church is facing a true challenge: young people in America and Europe are leaving the Christian church at an unprecedented rate.” (p. 31)
So the Next Generation will Know, is divided into two sections grounded in the theme of love. The first section identifies “The Challenge before Us”, (Ch. 2) and includes in-depth statistics concerning Gen Z groups. But that is not all! I enjoy the statistics, yet Sean and Jim provide a fresh, and much needed, wealth of information. Discussions such as building relationships, the use of technology and social media, the introduction of a worldview, all in layman’s terms that contributes to the book’s uniqueness.
“Times have clearly changed. Let’s step out of our comfort zones and try to understand how Gen Z sees the world so that we can love them uniquely for who they are.” (p. 52).
The church must be willing to change. Gen Z are some of the loneliest, yet busiest consumers on the planet. McDowell and Wallace emphasize relationships. Most churches “talk” about relationships. This book dives deeply into what a relationship can and should be. We must first earn trust from those we are attempting to reach. Trust is foundational to any relationship. Sean and Jim provide guidance on practical ways in developing trust and building relationships.
In the final chapter of section one, Love Equips Giving Kids a Worldview that Brings Significance, begins with defining, well, a worldview. If there is a slightly technical section to the book it is here. Faith and knowledge are addressed. Such terms as Naturalism, Pantheism and Individualism are introduced. Though a little more thought provoking, this area is vital, and a nice conclusion, in providing the reader with foundational knowledge of an area not typically discussed. Four easy to use steps are given to help others develop their own worldview.
"Jesus provided His followers with the biblical worldview. As the source of truth, He understood that His claims affected every aspect of reality, and He helped His followers practice what He taught them. “(p. 97).
Section two contains the answers to previously identified problems, So the Next Generation will Know, both title and solution.
This section begins with continues the theme of Love with “Love Ignites” Developing a Passion for Truth. The following three are similar to include “Love Trains” Resisting the Desire to Entertain Rather Than Train, “Love Explores” Providing Life-Changing Adventures for Students, and “Love Engages” Preparing Students through Movies, Music, Social Media, and Current Events.
Each chapter provides step by step, easy to use, instructions on the “how to” subject being addressed. Did I mention the Appendix? If the last four chapters are not enough to motivate, satisfy or overwhelm you, the Appendix contains even more.
I am not going to go into detail with all the information contained in the second section. Prayerfully, the titles of each chapter alone will drive you to read and implement the tools provided in this must-read book!
I highly recommend all Christians to read So the Next Generation will Know if, for nothing else, to understand what many of us scream daily. Sean McDowell and J Warner Wallace have compiled an answer to our prayers. The only question that remains… will the church listen?
John Mays is the Regional Director for the states of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. He is also the Chapter Director at Marshall University. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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