A book review
Being sent an advanced copy of a book to review is always an honor and humbles me since I’ve yet to write my own book. Blogging regularly is hard enough, and I know writing a book is much more challenging! But this book written by Sean McDowelland J. Warner Wallace, So the Next Generation Will Know, is a different kind of challenge—it is a challenge to us to ‘step it up’, and to help equip the younger generation with a biblical worldview to share the gospel globally.
This generation, called “Gen Z” by most, is facing challenges that other generations before could not have imagined. Over half of Christian youth walk away from the church by the time they enter college, stats report. And more of these young people are identifying as atheists than ever before. This is why anyone involved with youth, either parents, teachers or youth pastors, need to help them.
It is our responsibility. It is our imperative. It is our calling.
In the preface of the book, Psalm 78:5-7is quoted: “…to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them …” (I wonder where they got the idea for the title?)
So the Next Generation Will Know is not a book that teaches apologetics; it’s a book that explains how to train Gen Z about what is true. It has a relational focus, and is jam-packed with lessons, tools, and adventures to consider when interacting with youth.
As a parent of a Gen Z, reading this book left me very concerned about my son’s generation, and yet, at the same time, very hopeful. These young people care deeply about the world but constantly face intellectual skepticism via the internet. It’s been said that ideas have consequences; today, those ideas can spread in a viral moment. Give your kid a smart phone, and you’ve just handed them a world of conflicting ideas, all in the palm of their hand. That’s why it’s vital to teach Gen Z to be anchored to the Truth, and this book shows many ways to accomplish that.
One of my favorite parts of this book are the tips in the columns of a few pages. (You can see them by the highlights on the side, some marked by a pencil symbol.) From a “You Ask It Bag,” where a kid can anonymously ask any question she wants about the faith, to great questions to ask teens to become a better listener, these tips are designed for parents, teachers and youth pastors, and should ignite a passion for the truth.
I also appreciated how the whole book is laid out with love as its primary theme: love responds, understands, relates and equips. Without relationship and authenticity, Gen Z will likely not ‘hear’ us. And, as the authors point out, we need to hear them, first.
They model their recommendations after the greatest person who ever lived—Jesus. He provided His followers with a biblical worldview through relationship: eating together, conversing, and asking questions that all ultimately lead to the truth and finally, to faith.
The authors suggest that for every question of “what,” there should be two “whys” accompanying it. The “two whys for every what” approach doesn’t just tell youth ‘what’ is in the Bible, but whyit is true.
The TAB approach
The authors have developed an easy to remember acronym: the TAB model. I think is an excellent way to train the youth. Theology (T)is where we can describe what is true. Apologetics (A)is where we help make the youth provide a good defense towards skepticism. And our behavior (B)needs to align with a biblical worldview. Christians are counter-cultural, and this should be seen by how we behave—more like Jesus.
Even though this book is designed for people who interact with Gen Z, I think the ideas and activities listed can be used for other groups, too. For example, I lead a Women’s Discipleship group at my church, and trust me, I am going to refer to So the Next Generation Will Know for ideas and tips on how to engage the ladies so that they, too, can become more effective in relating truth to the youth in their lives.
There are so many suggestions in this book! Granted, that’s a good thing in the long run (for future reference), but I was a bit dumbfounded as to where to start? From training tips to incorporating modern media to organizing a week-long outreach mission, there is a lot to consider! But grace to Sean and Jim – they point this out in the postscript, recognizing that all the tips and suggestions for equipping the next generation can be a bit overwhelming. So, they suggest to simply begin with one or two strategies, and then keep going.
Finally, in the back of the book, the authors list a bunch of good resources to help the next generation change the world—Gen Z has that capacity. Let’s help them reach it by using the techniques in this book that the authors have developed and crafted after years of personal experience working with the youth themselves. These guys know their stuff! I highly recommend this book for anyone who interacts with the younger generation.