Reading books like The Four, leave me exhausted. Not only is it frustrating to consider the rate of change we experience every day, but I am also fatigued by the expectation this places on me as the consumer. I am left feeling like a refugee in my own homeland, an exile in what David Kinnaman terms “digital Babylon.”
I’ve been working through Barna’s new study on Generation Z, Faith for Exiles, with a team at work. Today, we were discussing the results of this study that demonstrate a desire of Gen Z to be contributors, not just consumers in the world. According to Barna, 80% of Gen Z Christians say they have a desire to honor God with their gifts and talents. They long to make a positive difference in the world. As we consider leadership development among Generation Z, we realize it will be important for us to allow for opportunities for meaningful contributions in our University, churches, and organizations. This means, as current leaders, we risk students making us look great as well as making us look bad. The point is…they want to be more than consumers and it’s up to us to help them get there.
After reading Galloway’s The Four, however, I wonder how we will get out from under the weight of consumerism. It seems that these four corporations have taken us hostage by learning more about our inner desires than we would like to admit. They have become masters at mirroring our behavior to drive us to consume more. It seems that no matter how many Newport “digital detox” cycles I go through, I am still subject to the sophisticated algorithms of Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook. Books like this challenge me to pause and shake myself from the gray fog of current culture. Even though I am fascinated by the ingenuity of the leaders of these companies, I desire something, well…real. Life is more than robots in warehouses, and the church should be as well.
I find great hope in a generation that desires to be more than zombie-like creatures who point and click. Faith for Exiles introduced me to an answer for the plight of The Four. I pray with the psalmist:
Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails! Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home.
 David Kinnaman, FAITH FOR EXILES: 5 Proven Ways to Help a New Generation Follow Jesus and Thrive in Digital … Babylon. (Place of publication not identified: BAKER Books, A DIVISION O, 2018).
 Scott Galloway, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2017).
 Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: On Living Better with Less Technology, 2019.
 Psalm 51:7-15 MSG