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ICON (North Student Ministry)

A new generation is coming into view and countless resources are being put up in order to define and market towards it. Generation Z. This generation, made up currently of 5 to 20 year olds, is rising up to replace the age of the stereotyped self-absorbed, wasteful, greedy, and identity-crisis stricken “Millennial” generation.  

But who or what is Generation Z? Gen Z is a generation not only savvy in their use of social media and technology, but are defining and being defined by it. The first generation to not know a time without smart phones. This generation believes that they’ve moved on from the “identity-crisis” of the Millennials and have taken on forging a new identity marked by ambiguity and contentment with it.  

Some research has stated that 70% of Gen Z support gender neutral bathrooms. Other research suggests that less than 50% of those within Gen Z define themselves as 100% heterosexual.  Jaclyn Suzuki, Creative Director of Ziba Design says “In the past we’ve seen a lot of tension and conflict and pain around identity. I think that has a lot to do with the friction and tension between the individual’s idea of self and society’s idea of self.  In contrast, Gen Z is going through a non-identity crisis.”

This is the next generation. This is the generation that, as with every upcoming generation, the gospel of Jesus must be handed off to and reach. And undoubtedly, an ethos of “non-identity” is one that will present challenges to this mission. This is an ethos that Scripture, even with it’s comfortability with paradox, will confront. Because from the perspective of the Bible, one cannot be simultaneously a Christian AND Non-Christian. Dead in sin AND freed from it. Lost AND found.

In January the Student Ministry of North Church was rebranded as North Church “ICON.”  Literally, an icon is something that is representative of something else. Culturally, an icon is a thing to which some form of admiration or even worship is given. Kids and students love icons, and so do we if we’re honest. Whether its Kanye, Lebron, Bieber, or the Kardashians, the selections for those that we hold to encapsulate the culture are endless.  

It probably does not come as a surprise that Mid & High Schoolers are in a critical point in life when it comes to identity formation. Admittedly, all of this influenced the decision of re-branding to ICON.

But the reason for re-branding the student ministry goes much, much deeper than that. The words and theme of Colossians 1:15-23 have become the vision of North Church. Colossians 1:15 tells us that Jesus is first. He’s king and above all things. Because of this, Jesus alone deserves worship. Verse 15 also states that: “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God...” 

In the original biblical language, the word used for “image” is “eikon.”  Eikon = Icon. What the apostle Paul meant to convey is that Jesus, the God Man, is the perfect representation of God the Father. God’s character, heart, mind, and purposes were perfectly demonstrated in Jesus’ ministry, teaching, life, death, and resurrection.  

The perfect icon of God is in the business of making icons of himself out of us! We are lost and dead in our sin and are saved by the perfect image of God, who in turn is constantly working to remake us into the image of himself. 

Gen Z is exactly the same as every other generation: a people whose identity is one marked by sin and therefore, a generation desperately in need of the cross. The hope for the generation of Paul’s time is the same for ours and the same for the ones to come. But as a church, our prayer for the next generation is that in a world of constant change, turmoil, and identity ambiguity, Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father, ruling and reigning over every inch of the Universe. Jesus alone takes away an identity of being utterly sinful, guilty, broken, lost, and awaiting final judgment to one of being forgiven, clean, restored, found, and awaiting future glory.  

The Student Ministry of North Church was re-branded to ICON with the prayer and hope that the youngest generation of North Church would look to Jesus as the final determiner of who they are. I believe that Jesus is building a generation of “icons.” A generation of people that love, worship, and look like himself.