The Gen Z Series

With Becca’s new job, (read more about that here) she has been asked to research stats and trends for Gen Z. She and I've had a ton of fun chatting about this particular topic. I’ve been doing a little research online and there is not a firm agreement on the beginning and cutoff years for Gen Z.

Many agree that iGen or Gen Z is born after 1996, but the cutoff ranged from 2011 to 2015. Why? Because as Alex Williams reminds, “Generational study is more art than science…” Yes, we can look at generational studies for trends, but we do not assume every person in a generation is or will be the same.

For example, think about the 16-year-old wealthy girl growing up in Orange County and then compare her to the Pioneer Woman’s (LOVE HER!) 16-year-old daughter. They're probably not exactly the same. There are many factors (location, family, religion) that cause a person to not be conformed to the patterns of this world.

Culture might say that as a Millennial I should play the part of the narcissistic consumer, but that doesn’t mean that I have to or that I even want to. There are many timeless aspects of my faith that I would rather do instead.

One timeless expression of my faith comes from Acts 2:46, the early church, “... broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…”. I love preparing and sharing a meal and having inspirational conversations around a table. It is one of my most favorite things in the whole world! 

According to Millenial trends, I could just pin good recipes and stop there.
For Gen Z, they might just group text each other. 

Another timeless expression of my faith: 

Hebrews 10:24- “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”

When a young mom asks me for advice, I say, “Spend the day with us. You’ll see a lot of prayer and us practicing Biblical methods but not perfection. Read a chapter of Don’t Make me Count to 3 and let’s chat about it.”

If I were just following Millennial trends, I could just overshare my life on facebook.
The Gen Z mindset says "We'll follow each other on Instagram."

We are made in the image of a complex God, we can never be reduced to a stereotype or marketing trend. That being said, I view the world differently than my friend’s 4th-grade daughter and differently than my mom. The reasons are not simply because my mom lives overseas. Media and technology have made the world smaller, so many within a generation do live the same way (ie- the Pioneer Woman’s daughter does have some, but not everything in common with the girl in Orange County).

Over the next 2 weeks, we will provide a Gen Z trend coupled with a unique way to mentor in light of it. I’m starting with this post though to remind us all  (mostly me, because my daughter is Gen Z!) that cultural trends should not make us fearful and they shouldn’t be our driving factor in our decisions, discipleship methods, or our understanding of how to parent our kids.

The truths of mentoring and discipleship are timeless (i.e. you still read the Bible!), but our methods have some creativity depending on our location, people, and culture. We don't conform to the culture (Rom 12:1-2), but we can and should be salt in it. We want to give you some ideas, but we don’t want a changing culture to change areas of our lives and faith that are timeless and above culture. If you have ideas, we would LOVE to hear them! Please comment below! -Amy

Fun things to do in the Fall!

Fall. This wonderful season of the year brings the rich flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin. The leaves show off their beautiful displays of color. Outdoor activities are encouraged with the wonderfully pleasant weather. Boots, scarves, and sweaters make their return...well they return earlier for some of us. Here in lovely Mississippi, I am still rocking sandals and shorts because September has not yet gotten the memo about fall.

Fall brings a host of different activities for us to get excited about! Things begin to change and feel new. Activities emerge that weren’t really a thing during the summer months. That is the beauty of a new season. We at The Perch want to encourage you to take full advantage of all that this new season has to offer. Here are a few of our favorite fall activities!

 

Pumpkin Painting

Pumpkins are not just for carving! Grab some fun paint, glitter, and stencils and craft away some beautiful creations! Also, those Donut Pumpkins.... gimme!

Bake these Pumpkin Nutella Muffins

Pumpkin + Nutella = Don’t mind if I do! Try this recipe for a little extra flair to the traditional fall pumpkin muffins.

Take a Mum to Your Mum

Ok, not a great joke, I know. But Mums really are beautiful and picking out the perfect one for your front porch might just be the perfect activity for you and your mom!

Add a New Piece to Your Fall Wardrobe

I like to find one new accessory for my fall wardrobe to make it feel new and different. Right now, I’m really feeling a tassel necklace!

Make a Fall Wreath

Pick Up a New Hobby 

Like crochet! It's our fave. 

Go for a Nice Walk Outside

because it won’t be over 100 degrees any longer

Have an Outdoor Picnic

Bring the Pumpkin Nutella Muffins! 

Rake Leaves for a Neighbor

Host a Tailgate Party

...even if it’s just for the pigs in a blanket

Bonfire with S’mores

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Visit a State Fair/Fall Festival

Make a “Thankful For” List

As you embark on these or your own list of favorite fall activities, take advantage of the times you are spending with different people. One of the easiest ways to make the most of the times you spend together is to open up a conversation about what the Lord is teaching you. As you are raking leaves say, “This morning I read ________ in the book of ________. The Lord showed me _________.” Or as you are sipping your latte with your bestie start with, “During the worship gathering with my church, the pastor shared ___________ and it made me think about __________.” Even as you are walking through the state fair with a caramel apple in hand you could say something like, “In my small group this week we talked about _______. This is how I see that impacting my life.”

Even fun fall themed activities can be done for the glory of God. A few months ago I wrote a post about “Redeeming Conversations”. Each of these activities can take place with someone coming alongside of you. There is tons of room for conversation in each of these activities. Whether you use one of the starter lines listed above or take your own route, have some fall fun with your people while having meaningful, long-lasting conversations.

Happy Fall Y'all! - Becca

What I’m reading: Psalm 1

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law] of the LORD,
and on his
law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)

I love reading different translations of the Bible. Often if a verse or passage stands out to me, I go to www.blueletterbible.com and read it in several translations- ESV, NLT, NASB are some faves. Or, I’ll look it up in my Amplified Bible (it takes a definition and sticks it right in the verse...try it!) In amplified verse one reads, “Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Fortunate is the person who doesn’t follow the advice of the wicked. What foolish person am I letting talk me into something that is not godly? Blessed is the person who doesn’t follow the example of the wicked. What unwise person am I listening to about ______________ (fill in the blank: my marriage, my friendships, my job, my calling/purpose, etc).

What we meditate on becomes our counselor. Do I meditate on God’s Word? If yes, my thoughts, words, and actions will be a blessing both to me and to others. Do I meditate on others opinion? If yes, then my thoughts, words, and action will be filled with jealousy, envy, rivalry, insecurity...all opposite of a blessing to me and others.

One of my favorite verses Romans 12:2 says, 

"Do not be conformed to this world,] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What we meditate on becomes our counselor.

If I read a 3 sentence devotional, then I spend hours being conformed to how everyone else views God, me, themselves, and the world, I will not live a blessed, fortunate, prosperous and favored by God life.

Psalm 119:9 reminds,  “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

We have to go to Scripture so we know who we are. If we want to be secure, bearing fruit, and prosper in all we do...we need to meditate on God’s Word so the very voice of God is our counselor. - Amy

 

Preparing to Lead a Small Group

I LOVE mentoring a small group. Let me rephrase...I LOVE mentoring/shepherding/laughing with/speaking truth to/eating donuts with/celebrating and rejoicing with/crying when life is hard/teaching/ a small group. I love making disciples! That’s how Jesus did it, right?

Jesus loved teaching the crowds and He spent the majority of His time revealing the Father to the 12, taking them with Him when He healed people, and they ate a lot of fish and I would assume they laughed a lot.

So, leading a small group is no small thing. You are not ever just a warm body in a room. I have the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead in me. When I enter a room, Jesus the hope of glory is in me. Through the conversations I have, Jesus can change me and others. Same for you! You don’t have to know Greek to be changed by Jesus. I know illiterate people who are FIERY evangelists. Any lie of inadequacy you have, pick up your Bible to quiet it. Jesus is alive in you! Our role is to share of His excellencies!

Hopefully, that intro / pep rally got you excited to lead a small group! was not the relaxing activity I thought it would be. I’m excited! Y'all we get to lead groups of women and girls!! Here are some tips for you as the group leader to lead well and with integrity. Check them out! 

1. Actually do prep.

Every thing of value in your life requires effort. Married? You have to talk to your spouse. Got a job? You have to show up. Friends? You have to text them.

Let's look at it from a different perspective. Sometimes simply asking Jesus to change your attitude/heart motivation will give you the gift of how you view your responsibilities.

NOW: Married? You have opportunities to serve them. Got a job? Show them you’re made in the image of a creative God with your work ethic and ideas. Friends? How can you bless them today?

Small Group: “Ugh it’s 10 minutes before group, I should cram.” Don’t settle for that! You’re making a disciple. Do something every day for your group. Give your time, love, and care because this group has value.

2. Have a plan.

I would set the goal to pray for your group by name 5 minutes every morning. Actually set an alarm. Your prayers can be general: for their faith to increase, for God to bless your time together, for God to create community, for God to give them a desire for His Word and more. As you get to know them, the requests will be more specific. Let them know you are praying for them throughout the week. Read your Bible every day. You are not prepping for a lesson. You are becoming a person apart from your group and modeling a lifestyle to them.

3. Set their expectations.

Last year I discipled a group of senior girls (they were fantastic). 

The first week we met I said something like, "This year we will read our Bibles every day. You don’t have to journal every day, but I do want you to write down some major things the Lord is telling you so we have something to talk about in our group. We will not have our phones out (phones should never be out when people are talking about things that are important to them.) I’m going to teach you how to read the Bible, share your faith, and hold you accountable to do both. And, this works both ways...y’all teach me and hold me accountable too! The Holy Spirit is not 17 in you and 25 in me." (and then we all giggled bc I’m over 30- I do remember that part. ha). I ended with saying something like, "If you don’t want to meet these expectations, I’m sure there are other groups that will not do these things, but, if you trust me and try this, you’ll know how to walk with Jesus in college."

No one left and my year with them was wonderful! Expectations are great because everyone in the group is working toward the same goal. No one arrives or leaves frustrated because you have a plan (from Scripture) and you’re honest from the beginning.

4. Have a buddy.

Ephesians 4:12- “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (NLT)

One of the best ways to quiet the enemy’s lies "that you’re all alone" is to have a buddy. Someone that you’re honest with and trust. If you had a great time in your group, you talk about it and this person is happy for you. If there is a crisis/tragedy/prayer need within your group, this person has your back and points you back to the Gospel. You need Jesus and other believers to encourage, sharpen and teach you so that you can encourage, sharpen and teach others.

I could make this list WAY longer, but really the best small group leaders are the ones who keep Jesus at the center as a lifestyle outside of meeting together and during their time when they meet. As disciple-makers, we reproduce in kind. Let’s all be the disciples we want our disciples to be. I hope that you're encouraged and challenged in new ways to lead your small group! 

Do you have any other small group leader tips? We'd love to know!! Also, if you're leading a small group this fall, tell us so we can pray for and encourage you! - Amy