Thursday, January 22, 2015

Millennial Expectations and the Church

A great deal is written about Millennials  and their expectations of life.  This evokes much discussion that ranges from “the sky is falling” view to “who cares?”  I don’t believe the end is near, but I also realize that those of us in ministry need to understand the perspectives and inclinations of an emerging generation of leaders.  Some of what is written is broad generalizations about Millennials, but those of us who have contact with them on a regular basis know that many of the observations are on target.

In a recent article, Ray Williams cited a study by Deloitte titled, “Mind the Gaps: The 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey.” The research collected information from more than 7,800 Millennials representing 29 countries. There were some interesting conclusions about what motivates Millennials and what they look for in leaders and at work.  Consider these items:

First, the study stated that “Millennials believe that business needs to ‘reset’ in terms of paying as much attention to people and purpose as it does to products and profit.”

Second, more than seven percent of respondents “believe businesses should have a positive impact on society first.”

Third, Millennials are concerned that “businesses are acting ethically and in accordance with their own values.”

Fourth, Millennials want to be led in a way that turns present approaches upside down.  Respondents “would like to see leaders place a higher priority on employee well-being and development rather than financial rewards.”

Fifth, as one might expect, women in the study “place a higher value on employee well-being” than the male respondents.  

How do these observations apply to the church?

I would suggest that churches that embrace a missional approach to doing church address many of these concerns.  A missional church places great value on developing individuals and their gifts.  It is less interested in programs and products and more focused on people.  Leaders in missional churches are expected to empower believers to develop and use their gifts and talents for God’s work.  The focus of the missional church is balanced between nurturing believers and releasing them to serve outside the walls of the church building.  In a missional church, finances are aligned with mission to the point that internal needs take second place to external mission.

If we accept the findings of this study as valid, a church that embraces the missio Dei (the mission of God) as its model is well positioned to reach and involve Millennials.  

1 comment:

Tyler Tankersley said...

I think one of the most important things a church can do to reach out to Millenials is to have a consistent ethic in big and small decisions. For example, it is crazy to me that churches continue to serve the cheapest coffee. There are a plethora of fair-trade and ethically sourced options for coffee that churches could serve instead. Why not demonstrate the Gospel by showing a commitment to justice in what is served at the coffee bar? Millenials seek organizations that are willing to ask difficult questions that permeate every level of its infrastructure.