I woke up to this video on my newsfeed. I don’t know the full context of the video, but it’s my understanding that it was used as a parody at a church leaders conference. While I took no particular offense to the video, I noticed that it had conjured up quite the response in the comments section. Many found the video distasteful, unhelpful and a huge stereotype of millennials. What do you think? A simple conversation starter video? Hilarious? Or do you find it offensive?
In Generational IQ, Hayden Shaw shares these criticisms often given about millennials (Born 1981-2001):
- They won’t get off their phones.
- They aren’t loyal.
- They don’t show respect.
- They’re naive about what it takes to make organisations work.
- They’re impatient and drop out if you don’t implement their ideas.
- They’re materialistic.
- They have no work ethic; they want everything handed to them.
- They think they’re entitled.
- They’ve grown up in a sex-saturated world.
- They’re walking away from Christianity.
Some of these criticisms are true while others are not. What is more important than simple criticism, is generational appreciation. Every generation has its strengths and weaknesses. So, what are some of the strengths of millennials?
- They Want Meaning
They really want their lives to mean something and want to give themselves to something worthwhile. In fact, 96% of millennials carry this mantra, “I can do something great.” They also what real responsibility. However, they often feel society is slow in entrusting them with serious responsibility until they are well in their 30’s.
Church– This is often why many struggle with the church. They feel they are never really given real responsibility. They aren’t good spectators, which is why the typical Sunday morning church service has become less attractive to many. They want a role to play that is meaningful.
2. They Want Authentic
Millennials have a keen sense of sniffing out imposters. This also means they are slower to trust. They probably trust people less than any other generation in history. The quickest way for a brand or organisation to lose the trust of millennials is to solicit unwarranted hype. They don’t mind people making mistakes. They are not perfectionists, they just want authenticity.
Church– “Church” is just like any other institution. If church leaders communicate a false sense of reality, millennials can sniff it out quickly. They want the church to be raw and authentic, they don’t mind a bit of flash and quality, but it must in needs to fit with reality. They know things are always sunshine and butterflies, but they want you to be vulnerable about the challenges. Be real.
3. They want teams.
In my opinion, this may be one of the greatest strengths of the millennials. Many were placed on teams before they could speak and have grown up in circles of participation. They may not know exactly what to do, but they know how to get the answers and prefer to to journey with people. Many also respect the life experience of older generations and will solicit their input. If you can create meaning and be authentic, it doesn’t matter who are, a millennial can team with you.
Church– Again, millennials often struggle in many churches because of the hierarchical structure where just the “professionals” do most of the work. They want to be an equal, collaborate, and produce something meaningful together. If you don’t empower and engage them, you’ll lose them.
I highly recommend Generational IQ as a resource on millennials and understanding other generations.