As an over-40 woman who attends a multi-site church located in Washington, DC whose primary demographic is single 20 and 30 something’s, I’ve had a front row seat to the huge demographic shift occurring in our churches as Millennials forge a distinctive path into the future. I’ve seen both the promise and the challenges facing this generation and the potential coaching holds for their future.
With more churches beginning to understand the benefits of coaching and exploring coaching as a tool for leadership development, it’s critical that we steward the opportunity well, learning all we can about this generation as well as how to bridge the cultural divide.
Here’s what I’ve learned to be true about Millennials and how I believe we can better serve them through coaching.
“Digital natives,” Millennials are the only generation that has not had to adapt to technology. They have embraced the platforms of the digital era — the Internet, mobile technology, and social media — building their own network of friends and affinity groups. For example, 81 percent of Millennials are on Facebook.
The implications for coaches are clear. We need to embrace technology, or we risk losing a pivotal opportunity to further God’s purposes in and through this generation.
While many of us would not think twice about learning all we could about a culture before going on a mission trip, we balk at investing the same time and energy into understanding the Millennial culture and learning to speak their “language”— technology.
Cultivate Authenticity in Relationship
Seventy-five percent of Millennials see themselves as authentic. They long for relationship, but they are not willing to compromise their family and personal values to attain it. Distrustful of others, they know when they’re being “sold to” and have little tolerance for political and corporate “doublespeak” or the people who use it. Honor their authenticity and, in time, they will honor you with their trust.
Understand the Culture
Life is complicated, and Millennials are trying to figure out how to live faithfully in a rapidly evolving, post-Christian culture. In their service to God, they are seeking more than traditional church-based ministry. Free from the sacred/secular divides of past generations, they are eager to live out their faith in the real world. Like Jesus, enter into their world and help them figure out what it looks like for them to take Jesus into the marketplace.
Tap into Their Passion for Social Justice
Millennials are passionate about social justice issues, and human trafficking and modern slavery top the list. Educate yourself about today’s social justice issues, so that you can intelligently coach around them. Tap into Millennials’ passion for justice, challenging them to put feet to their faith.
Understand that Cities Matter
According to Pew Research, 33 percent of Millennials live in cities. In fact, Millennials are currently living in urban areas at a higher rate than any other generation. And a full forty percent say they would like to live in an urban area in the future.
Yet, evangelical Christians in America have traditionally felt a great deal of discomfort with city life and its problems and temptations. Whether you’re called to city life or not, understand its appeal to Millennials and help them navigate the practicalities of living out their faith in a world that’s radically different from yours.
The simple truth is this: Millennials represent the single largest generation in human history. Now is the time to pay attention to this generation.
What is God calling you to do to bridge the cultural divide?