By: Micah Davis
I recently read an excellent article by Micah Davis entitled “How Church Leaders Can Empower and Pursue Millennials and Gen Z”. Recent stats have said that we as a Church are NOT empowering the next generations well, and we have shown that in some previous posts. After reading the article, I jotted down the following takeaways. Can you identify any other valuable suggestions? Which ones could you begin to implement today?
- Pursue meaningful relationships with them.
- Individualize; don’t generalize.
- Make sure there is representation of these generations in all ministries and levels of the church.
- Truly listen. Don’t patronize.
- Adjust to their lives.
- Address social justice as one of your church’s central concerns.
- Focus on solutions instead of problems.
- Embrace change as something positive instead of something negative. Adopt the attitude of “Let’s try it!”
Paralysis by Analysis
We live in a society of increasing technology and fast-moving information. This can cause information overload which can lead to analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis can lead to decision fatigue, which leads to indecision. This is why people like Steve Jobs wore the same clothes every day to save mental capacity for key decision making; moreover, this is the state of many churches and leaders when it comes to engaging the next generation. Many are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.
Where Do We Begin?
Pursue relationships with the next generation. One drawback about generational research is that it’s easy to make generalizations. That can cause us to project things onto people and place people into categories instead of seeing them as individuals whom Christ loves. That’s the exact opposite of Jesus’ approach to ministry. He found the one and individualized rather than looking at the whole and generalizing. Listening to and empowering Millennials and Gen Z in your church leadership will act as a bridge to further serve the next generation.
How Do Millennials and Gen Z Feel Heard?
Much of the challenges faced in churches across America can be improved through one simple step: improving the representation of Millennials and Gen Z in church leadership. Inviting them into leadership and listening to their voices will help guide churches in reaching those in the next generation who want to follow Jesus. This requires an intentional approach, but one that does not patronize them. Here are three ways church leaders can engage the next generation:
Listen to and empower Millennials and Gen Z.
Adjust to the lives of Millennials and Gen Z.
Address social justice as one of your church’s central concerns.
Why Are Millennials and Gen Z Needed in Church Leadership?
Increasing the presence of Millennials and Gen Z in church leadership brings perspectives that older leaders may not be aware of or consider. When our lived experiences are drastically different from another’s, it often prevents us from viewing society, culture, and the world from that person’s perspective and their needs, wants, desires, and challenges. Having a men’s breakfast at 7:00 a.m. may work great for older church members, but it is not appealing to college-aged guys or young dads with kids. A women’s brunch on a Wednesday afternoon may suit retired women or stay-at-home moms, but many millennials today work full-time jobs. Facebook groups are great ways at getting people connected; however, much of Gen Z is not on Facebook or they use it for narrow purposes.
Takeaway: When Millennials and Gen Z are involved in church leadership, it becomes easier to identify the challenges and obstacles to getting this generation involved.
How Do We Empower the Next Generation?
Rather than resisting ideas, adopt the attitude of “Let’s try it!” Much of the resistance to change stems from worrying about “what could go wrong.” Many times, we anticipate the worst. No one likes to fail, and no one wants their church representation to suffer. Resistance also is a result of worrying that “the younger generation” doesn’t have much experience, wisdom, or knowledge to lead at a certain capacity. There is a lot to learn from both ends of the spectrum.
Takeaway: If your church can adopt a “let’s-try-it” attitude and trust God, then you’re on your way to empowering the Millennials and Gen Z in your church.
If Millennials and Gen Z feel unheard, they’ll wonder why they’re even sitting at the table. Eventually, they’ll decide to spend their time elsewhere. Making them feel heard and valued is relatively straightforward: focus on solutions instead of problems, open up to trying ideas and seeing what happens, and trust God through it all.