Church Leadership, Millennials

What you know about Millennials is wrong

February 24, 2015

Millennials2

The hype surrounding millennials has been heavily documented. You know the millennials. Those trophy-for-everything-kids who live with their parents. The millennials who grew up as the “me” generation. Millennials, with their technology, social media, and heavy cell phone use. As employees, millennials are high maintenance, liberal, and self-serving.

Everyone thinks they know the millennials, but they don’t. Here’s why.

There is a wealth of information available that refutes the stereotypes of millennials. The stereotype of millennials is that they are lacking in ethics or values. It turns out that 58% of millennials believe abortion is morally wrong. Politically, millennials are a conundrum. One study found that 62% want to cut government spending, but a majority want increased infrastructure.

Perhaps the most surprising factoid is how millennials would prioritize their lives. Do they want money, fame, or social media attention? No they want family, to live healthfully, and to learn new things:

Millennialslife

The exodus of millennials from churches is well established. As for religion, author and speaker Rachel Held Evans explains why millennials are leaving churches:

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers. You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Ouch. After all the documentation of millennials leaving churches in record numbers, it is not about a hip band or good coffee that attracts young people. Apparently millennials want more of Jesus and less fakey-surface-level church marketing.  Millennials cannot be put into one category because they are unlike any other generation before.

Indeed, millennials are sort of a mystery. Everyone wants to put millennials in a box but few have actually spent time with them. People say young people are lazy but they entered into the workforce in one of the worst economic times: The Great Recession. Baby Boomers enjoyed the post-war economy that saw one of the largest periods of economic growth in America. It is human nature to look back at the past and remember it greater than what it really was. And, it is also human nature to believe the future can never be as bright. That’s called romanticizing.

Stop comparing every generation to the previous one as lesser. Many believe that they “know” millennials. The time has come to stop thinking folks know millennials and to finally befriend some.

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