Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Engaging Millennials

Although you make get tired or reading articles about how to work with, recruit, and mentor millennials, each of us needs to be aware that this new generation of leaders is ready and willing to become engaged if we will acknowledge what is important to them. 
Mary Verstraete, a professional leadership consultant and coach, had written a very helpful article about millennials and made some practical suggestions about how to make the most of their abilities. 

Let me adapt Verstraete’s comments to the church context.

First, she says to “look for ways to satisfy their desire to be creative, to have important and interesting roles, and to engage them.”  They are bright and innovative individuals.  We need to give them the space to come up with new ideas and then let them pursue those ideas to completion.  If we are not willing to give that latitude, then we are saying we really don’t want them as part of our ministry.

Second, we should “emphasize training and personal development to retain this group.”  I have found millennials very open to spiritual formation and disciple practices that will enrich their Christian journeys.  Some older adults are surprised at how open millennials are to more traditional expressions of the faith. They want to learn.

Third, we should” encourage collaboration and transparency.”  They don’t want to start at the bottom and take twenty years to work themselves into a place of leadership.   They want to be involved now.  Again, if you are not willing to listen to them and give them places of significant responsibility, then you don’t want them.

Fourth, Verstraete says “focus on mentorship.”  For good or ill, “they have grown up with considerable guidance from their parents, society, and teachers.” Older leaders have much to share with them.  They will listen to your story if you will listen to theirs.  They also can offer “reverse mentoring” to an older generation, helping them to understand how millennials think and what they value.

Fifth, provide opportunities for them to make a difference.  Businesses that commit to social causes are every attractive to millennials.  Isn’t this what the church should be about?  Just make sure that the impact is real and hands on or they will not stay with it.

The next generation of leaders is here. Are we ready for them?

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