Bringing the younger generations back towards the Son is not an easy task. Perhaps the four most pointed words describing the younger Y generation is that they are a generation often overwhelmed, over connected, over protected, and over served. These young individuals often feel stressed out from both internal and external surroundings. Some of this is due to personal issues and some of this is due from the pressure we as parents placed upon them to perform. Living in a generation of connectedness they have grown up in a world of online games and texting. The result is a generation, which lacks abilities of communication other than viral socialization. What comes out of this, is lower relationship skills and the inability to put together lasting communication above a few words on a screen. This group is a group short of patience, listening skills, and lack the ability to resolve conflict. When they are overwhelmed they either push back or retreat into a world of on screen short-term surface level relationship. If the trend continues, this generation of over connectedness will run the risk of trading quality face-to-face relationships for virtual relationships which could prove hazardous. They are an over protected and served generation by Mom and Dad which resulted in poor cooping skills. Yet this Y generation has most assuredly developed a strong self-esteem.
The Y Generation is a generation of energetic, confident, and capable people. They dream big, care deeply for their friends, and thrive on activity.
Here is a call and a challenge for the local church when seeking to minister to the Y generation:
- They seek to belong first before they ever think about believing. They are joiners first and foremost. They are relational over logical. They are right brain creative over left-brain knowledgeable. For the local church, if you embrace them first, they will embrace you and your idea.
- They desire experience over an explanation. Gone are the lecture days of drawing younger kids in. Captivate their minds by capturing their interests first. Allow them to be doers before they become see-ers. Action is first interaction is second.
- They will embrace a cause much sooner than they will embrace a course. Spark a passion within them and you will have ample opportunity to teach them deeper things.
- They desire a guide on their side before a sage on the stage. They are not in search of an expert but someone to journey with them. Relationship is far greater than information. Mentors and life coaches are what they are seeking.
- They desperately want to play before they pay. Instant connectedness. Instant gratification. Instant reward. These are all part of their desire to play before they pay. They are not the waiting generation but the doing one. We must connect quickly to this group if we are going to connect at all. Relevancy must be quick because they will not give you any length to prove your point.
- They want to use others but not be used by others. They are a generation, which uses technology, instant messaging, Internet, cell phones and smart phones. Yet they are cautious of those, which try to use them. They want to be the drivers of ideas and not the receivers of ones. They like being in control and having a voice. Common goals are big in their book.
- They seek transformation over a touch. This generation has high expectations and even their educational learning needs to be wrapped in fun entertaining formats. Gone is the day when a Sunday School teacher can crack open a quarterly right as this group arrives and survive the hour.
For the church to reach this generation it means that we will need to adjust to them and not they adjust to us. We must rethink what we are saying and how we are saying it in order that we might present the Gospel to this generation. We must foster friendships and develop peer groups for them. The Y generation needs a purpose so give them a great purpose within the church and not just a surface one. Offer them options and be flexible so they will be able to fit in. Place a high value on their willingness to volunteer. Give them opportunities to make a difference in the world right through the local church. Challenge the Y Generation with change while making creative use of their energy and desire for something new. Elevate and empower their strengths allowing them to impact their generation and impart into the next one that follows theirs.
Let’s think about that fact and begin doing something about it! If you would like to have conversations related to this blog post, why not drop me a line so we can begin your journey and conversation.
You can connect with Dr. Tom Cheyney and the RENOVATE Church Revitalization Virtual Coaching Network additionally via Facebook at RENOVATE Conference. Tom is the co-author of Spin-Off Churches (B&H Publishers), a conference speaker and a frequent writer on church planting, new church health, and church revitalization. Be looking for The Biblical Foundations for Church Revitalization by Tom Cheyney and Terry Rials later this year. If you or your church would like more information you may contact him at Tom@renovateconference.org, or firstname.lastname@example.org.