In the coming years, Boomers will hand over an unprecedented $100 trillion of wealth to the next generation. Ken Costa explains how the Church can help Zennials manage their money appropriately
Humanity has always had a complicated relationship with money.
If someone broaches the subject in public or we hear it spoken about from a pulpit, we shift in our seats awkwardly. Money is laden with societal taboos, cultural discrepancy, theological myths and preconceived judgments that shape our perception and decisions. Our cultural reflexes are based on a presumptive narrative.
At this very moment, the world’s economic landscape is poised on the precipice of a monumental transformation. The Great Wealth Transfer looms large, a colossal shift where the Boomer generation will release unprecedented wealth into the waiting hands of Millennials and Gen Z. Globally, this handover is projected to exceed a staggering $100 trillion in value.
Always concerned about the hearts of his followers, Jesus constantly taught about money
As we stand at this crossroads, the young torchbearers of our world carry a weighty mantle. Zennials, the fusion of Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Gen Z (born 1997-2013) commandeer the stage, embodying the aspirations and energy of 64 per cent of the global populace. They are the largest generational force on our planet, a transition demographic that echoes with the fervour of a rising tide of potential and possibility.
The search for significance
As the baton of financial resources changes hands, it ushers in a seismic shift in power, influence, and, perhaps most significantly, perspective. While Boomers predominantly gauged success through the lens of material wealth, Zennials now embark on a quest for significance and spiritual connection. They long to belong. To find a tribe. To express their identity.
Armed with this quest to contribute to society and satisfy the spirituality they are seeking, the Church is uniquely positioned to support the next generation in the greatest wealth transfer in history.
Jesus and money
Whether studying the scriptures in a group or conducting a forensic exegesis of biblical texts, it is clear money was not a peripheral issue for Jesus. Always concerned about the hearts of his followers, Jesus constantly taught about money. He challenged his disciple’s attitude towards it and showed them how it could be a window into their hearts.
In one of the most renowned letters of the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote to his mentee Timothy, addressing a multitude of matters central to the Christian faith. Among the timeless wisdom he shared, one passage stands out. It’s a verse that has reverberated through centuries and cultures. Often misunderstood, frequently misinterpreted, Paul warns that: “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”. (1 Timothy 6:10).
This is a potent reminder of the powerful influence money can exert on our lives and the profound ethical dilemmas which exist and are associated with mammon. Yet we often read incorrect or incomplete implications of what Paul really says. Paul does not proclaim that money is the root of all evil. Nowhere do you see him propagate vows of poverty or promote the dangers of a gospel of prosperity. He consistently proclaims it’s the love of money that is the root of all evil. Idolatry is where evil finds its roots.
A force for good
With the right motives and priorities, money can be a great force for good, fostering growth and benefiting society - if used in a way that glorifies God and expands his kingdom agenda.
We possess the power to wield our financial resources in harmony with God’s divine plan, transforming money’s role from potential vice to virtuous God-honouring possibilities.
Zennials place a premium on ethical and social responsibility, while defining self-improvement and fulfilment through the measuring stick of personal growth and mental well-being. Will this generation entrust its newfound wealth into the hands of institutions, organisations and Church entities? Does the Church embody vision and mission with values the up-and-coming generations can relate to?
As secular society gives way to new waves of spirituality, will the Church be able to add a meaningful voice to this generation’s conversation?
A challenge confronting Christianity is the apparent disconnect between religious institutions and the Zennial generation. As pointed out by James Marriott, in The Times: “the spiritual yearning is undeniably present, perhaps even more intensely experienced by my generation, marked by uncertainty and a scarcity of property, who are more inclined towards astrology, than it ever was by the carefree nihilists of Gen X.”
Making sense of the world
To flourish in this evolving landscape and truly resonate with Zennials, Christianity must adopt an approach that is not just theologically sound but also socially compelling, adapting to their unique blend of spirituality and worldly engagement.
Money need not be a malevolent force. With a commitment to transparent financial practices, prosperity can be a force for good in our world. Through the principles of collaboration, compassion and community we can actively shape a more inclusive, purpose-driven, and socially revitalised capitalism.
To remain relevant, Christianity must wholeheartedly acknowledge and address Zennial’s concerns, offering them solutions that resonate with their quest for genuine meaning and value. What will money be used for? What is being built? Are people being managed or are they being led?
With the right motives and priorities, money can be a great force for good
The Church must recognise this generation’s burgeoning aspiration for an integrated life, one where faith, purpose and fulfilment are seamlessly woven into the fabric of their daily work and worship. By doing so, we can regain the trust of a generation that has, at times, lost confidence in established institutions.
This generation will resolutely reject the confines of a one-dimensional approach to financial stewardship and the distribution of wealth. They need to know why they are being advised and instructed - without clarity of thought and a compelling vision they will look elsewhere.
The Church can stand as a beacon, bridging the gap between worldly aspirations and spiritual fulfilment, fostering a realm where wealth, purpose and faith coalesce to forge a path of sustainable and spiritual progress and unleash its eternal potential.