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Are the Kids Alright? EPISODE 5: How to Walk Alongside Gen Z with Tanita Maddox

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Whether you're a parent, a youth pastor, a teacher or a young person yourself, you've probably seen all of the headlines concerning Gen Z. Rates of depression and loneliness are surging, their relationship with technology is kind of troubling, and they are leaving the church in droves. We've talked about these trends a lot on the Holy Post, but we're not alone. Tenx10 is a new collaborative discipleship initiative whose mission is to make faith matter more for this younger generation. We've partnered with Tenx10 to create this series and to hear from experts in each episode about the challenges young people and those who care about them are facing. One of those experts is Tanita Maddox. Tanita is the Associate Regional Director for the Western Mountain Region for Young Life and has worked in youth ministry for the last 30 years. She wrote her doctoral thesis on sharing the gospel with Gen Z and brings a unique insight and understanding of Gen Z that has served parents, employers, and educators in their understanding of the next generation. I sat down with Tanita to find out if the kids are going to be alright.

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Joel Zehring
Joel Zehring
Nov 29, 2023

I think the word "safety" may summarize a few different ideas:

- emotionally aware

- emotionally honest

- intellectually honest

- spiritually honest

- accountable

Here's the thing: pretty much every church claims these qualities (because... Jesus!), but not all churches actually embody these. It's especially tricky because evangelical churches share a lot of similar external traits (modern music, charismatic speaker/leader, other amenities), but spiritual, emotional, and cultural health varies widely, even within subgroups in a single "church". Truly validating a church's health and culture requires significant time and emotional investment. Growing numbers of folks have been hurt or have heard stories of church-inflicted trauma and concluded it's not a safe investment.


Sarah Lowe
Sarah Lowe
Nov 27, 2023

I may be reading too much into Skye's comments and questions during this interview and the subsequent "outro," but I'm feeling like Jonathan Haidt and especially "The Coddling of the American Mind" are casting a long shadow over how Skye feels and speaks about Gen Z sometimes--especially as it relates to his repeated concerns over Gen Z's desire for "safety" and "safe spaces." I think it's good to keep in mind that that book generated some controversy when it was published and isn't the only lens through which we can look at the next generation. (Personally, I don't find it to be a helpful or good lens, period, but I realize some will disagree with that and am trying to…

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