Tag Archive - millennial

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18 Churchy Things the Class of 2018 Won’t Get

Around this time of year, the mainstream media and Internet meme-machines like to remind us how old we are by telling us all of the things this year’s high school graduates won’t remember because, well, they weren’t even born yet.

That list is usually all pop culture, technology and political references. But what about church? I bet we can make a good list.

In church leadership, we have a looooong memory. And for some reason, we expect the new wine to clothe itself with old wineskins to learn and accept every moment of our history as part of their own personal story.

This spring’s high school graduates were born in the year 2000. Here are some churchy things for which they have little to no context for…

  1. “Shout to the Lord”
    That was 1994, folks.
  2. When Worship Bands Were Edgy
    Carey Nieuwhof wrote about this very well in his article “The Impending Death of Cool Church.”
  3. Billy Graham Crusades 
    His last was in 2005. They were five years old.
  4. Televangelists Committing Fraud and Conspiracy
    More on why that should influence how your church talks about money in Tony Morgan’s article “It’s Not the ‘80s Anymore.”
  5. Giving Cash at Church
    The Unstuck Group’s intern this semester specifically mentioned “offering plates of all varieties… the strangest ones I’ve seen were velvet bags with wooden handles. Very retro.” Tony also said his church doesn’t take an offering in services anymore. And there are no “giving boxes” either.
  6. Why “See You at the Pole” Is a Thing
    Prayer at school is not a part of their collective consciousness.
  7. “I Can Only Imagine”
    Aka Contemporary Christian Music as an influential genre.
  8. Overhead Transparencies for Song Lyrics / Reading Songs from a Hymnal
    They have no idea why older people in your church don’t like projectors and screens.
  9. I Kissed Dating Goodbye
    But, that doesn’t mean they are dating—at least not in real life. (Ask a few teenage girls when was the last time a boy actually asked them out. You’ll get some eye-rolling.)
  10. Multisite as a New Thing
    In late 2005, there were already more than 1,500 multisite churches in the United States.
  11. The Charismatic Movement / The Word “Charismatic” Used in Spiritual Context
    Whether you’re for it or against it, they don’t understand why.
  12. WWJD Bracelets
    Ah, the ‘90s.
  13. Drama Teams
    Aka video clips without the magic of editing.
  14. Church Directories
    If you still have one of these, let me guess the average age of the people listed.
  15. Wearing Your Sunday Best
    See #2. It’s been mostly acceptable to wear jeans to work, and church, since before they were born.
  16. CD Recordings of the Sermon
    Where would they even play a CD? If it’s not digital, they aren’t listening to it.
  17. Tent Revival Meetings
    Similarly to Billy Graham Crusades, without the historical context, these make no strategic sense. Why would you set up a tent beside your building and have service every night? An 18-year-old probably won’t even bother to ask why. They’ll just chock it up to weird religious stuff.
  18. What You Mean by “Traditional” or “Contemporary” Services Style
    “Contemporary” isn’t a thing. The 1990s started almost 30 years ago. If you’re trying to reach Gen Z and Millennials, and you think you have a “contemporary” service that will reach them, there’s a good chance you’re trying to connect with them using a style that emerged before they were born. The literal definition of contemporary is “belonging to or occurring in the present.” Oh, that we would own that definition. The Holy Spirit belongs to and occurs in the present, just as much as he did when the past was the present. As for “traditional” services, I can’t say it any better than Amy Anderson, The Unstuck Group’s Director of Consulting, recently did: If you have a service you’re calling “traditional,” it’s probably not reaching new people for Christ.

Bonus, Unchurchy List

These things make all of the real lists, but churches still ignore these facts. This year’s college graduates don’t remember…

    1. Life Before Mobile
      The iPhone came out when they were 7 years old. We can’t close our eyes and pretend like we can still connect with them without a native mobile strategy.
    2. Having to Call Anywhere for Information
      You need a digital destination for any action you want them to take.
    3. Life Before Everyone Shared Their Whole Lives on Social Media 
      They were 4 years old when MySpace was a hit, and the social media landscape exploded as they grew up. If you’re just tacking on Facebook to your real evangelism and discipleship strategy, you’re going to miss them.
    4. Not Being Able to Google It
      Specifically when it comes to preaching, if you make claims about Jesus, God, the Bible, etc. that they don’t understand, they’re going to Google it. Be prepared for that.
    5. Not Being Able to Connect with You
      They expect to be able to follow you on Instagram or Twitter. They expect to be able to figure you out a bit by how you present yourself online, not just what you say on the platform.

I challenge you to invite some high school grads to join you and your staff for a conversation about what you’re doing that they don’t understand. Let’s not be so hyper-focused on reaching Millennials that we wake up one day realizing we’ve already lost Gen Z.

A big thank you to Tiffany Deluccia for the guest post! Tiffany is Director of Marketing & Communications at The Unstuck Group. She graduated from Clemson University, and before joining The Unstuck Team, worked in public relations with major national retail brands, nonprofits and churches on content creation, strategic planning, communication consulting, social media and media relations. She also founded and writes for WastingPerfume.com, a devotional blog for young women.


Posted in Leadership

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Why the Sky is NOT the Limit for Young Church Leaders

The sky is not the limit for your church leaders, it’s just not. And we do them a disservice to feed them lines and fill their heads with ideas that just aren’t true. It’s one thing to tell a young leader that you believe in them and encourage them, it’s another to just lie to them. Sometimes in our attempts to encourage young leaders we move past encouragement into falsehood. In doing so we set them up for disappointment and sometimes failure.

In Proverbs 13:12 the Bible teaches us that, “Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick.” In other words, hope that doesn’t end in real results can destroy someone. So we need be careful what direction and expectations we set on young leaders, because if it doesn’t come to fruition we can ruin them.

We’d be better off to encourage them to understand that their limit is their limit and go have fun testing their limits. When young leaders find their limits and live within what Jesus has wired them up to do they’ll experience more peace and produce more fruit!

Truth is, the sky is not the limit for young leaders, there are real limiting factors that they are or will experience, here are just a few.

1. Gifting

The Scriptures are clear that not everyone gets the same gift (and leadership is clearly defined as a spiritual gift in the Bible that not everyone gets). There are different gifts, God seemingly loves diversity and has created a system that pushes us towards one another instead of away. For the Church to be its best we need to bring our best together and lean into each other’s areas of gifting and brilliance!

2. Capacity

The Scriptures are also clear that not everyone gets the same measure of gifts. Some have a greater capacity than others. It’s possible that two people may have a teaching gift, but one may have a great measure of that gift. You get how this works.

3. Approach

Now this is something that young leaders can actually control. They can control the approach they take. They can decide if they are going to have a great attitude or not, they can choose how much effort they are going to put forth, they can choose to submit to those in authority over them or not, and they can choose be teachable or not. They can choose their approach.

4. Opportunity

I’ve heard it said that luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. You can call it providence and blame all of your opportunities or lack of opportunities on God or you can take personal ownership of your life and go make your own opportunities. Now I’m not a “demon behind every bush” kind of guy, but I don’t want to not give credit to God when it’s due either. Some opportunities are self-made while others are God given. Whichever come your way take advantage of them because not everyone gets the same opportunities.

5. Resources

Some young leaders simply have greater resources at their disposal. These resources give them a disproportional leg up over their peers. Some have access to greater preparation, development and coaching. Some have access to more finances which allow them greater margin. Still others have access to deeper personnel bench to deploy. Recourses are a limiting factor for growing leaders.


Posted in Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Top 10 Church Leadership Posts from 2017


Posted in Leadership

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Top Posts of 2017 #6 “6 Keys to Motivating Millennial Church Leaders”

As I already mentioned in this countdown, millennials were a popular topic on my blog this year. This is the second post in this year’s countdown that had to do with millennial church leaders.

If you have any millennials on your church staff you know that they’re different. And while many traditional church leaders are quick to equate a different approach with being a wrong approach, wise leaders know that different just means different. Not necessary wrong. In fact it could even be better. Millennials can, will, and are doing some amazing ministry. Like it or not they are coming into their own in church leadership, and they’re the ones that are going to lead the church forward. So instead of complaining about them we might as well help them. Try these 6 approaches to motivate the millennial leaders on your church staff.

1. Help me Avoid Boredom

Millennials have grown up with the constant interruption of smart phones and sound bites. This has conditioned them to be great at multitasking. So don’t expect them to sit down and work the way you did with tremendous focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Help them avoid that monotony and dabble with multiple things at one time. They’ll have more fun and produce more results.

2. Help me Join a Cause

Everyone knows that millennials are cause oriented. But what most churches haven’t come to grips with yet is that one of the key reasons so many millennials are leaving the church is they don’t view the church as a cause worth giving their life to. Is your church an institution or a movement? Have you turned the Gospel into something to be dissected and intellectually understood or something that is powerful and mysterious? Help them see the church as a cause worth giving their life to.

3. Help me Manage my Heart

Feelings are more important than facts to millennials. While it might not make sense to some previous generations they think more with their heart than their head. That’s not to say they aren’t brilliant it’s just to say their motivation is more centered around the question, “Does this feel right?” Church leaders can help millennials by increasing their emotional intelligence and being more thoughtful about how their actions may be perceived and how they may affect the feelings of others rather than just give way to simple facts and plans.

4. Help me See the Win

Millennials have grown up in a world of instant gratification, access, and results. Anybody who has been in ministry for any length of time knows that’s not how it really works. Life just doesn’t work that way. So we’ve got to help celebrate the small wins of life change that happen along the way. Help them celebrate the first downs along the way and help them make the connection between their day-to-day ministry and the vision.

5. Help me be True to Myself

Millennials aren’t going to follow someone or be a part of something that feels inauthentic to them. The best gift that church leaders can give millennials is to exercise real leadership and stop leading through position, title, or power and learn to lead with humility and personhood. They won’t simply respect you for your position but instead for who you are and the value you add. In this way millennials are a gift to challenge many church leaders to lead in a way that they may have forgotten.

6. Help me Understand “Why”

In recent years Simon Sinek made the phrase, “start with why” famous. Millennials don’t just want to know your plan. They don’t want to simply know what you want them to do, they want to know the why behind it. They need to buy into the reason behind the plan of action. Help them buy into the why.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Top Posts of 2017 #8 “When to Invest in a Young Leader and when to Ignore them”

A lot of people in church world are trying to figure out millennials. How do reach them, motivate them, develop them, and of course how do we hand of leadership of the Church to them? So it’s no surprise that this topic was a popular one on my blog this year.

Like it or not, millennials are making their way into leadership roles in churches across America. As they take their newfound place in church leadership many of them are looking for someone to invest in them and help develop them as young emerging leaders.

Experienced leaders are always going to have more opportunities available to say yes to than capacity to meet them. This is true in leadership and this is true in developing young talent. You have to make a choice. So, choose wisely. How do you know who to invest in and who to ignore?

Young, naïve, and inexperienced talent doesn’t bother me. But young talent that is void of the following four intangibles scares me to death.

Talent

Skills can be trained but talent is developed. Talent is something you have or you don’t have. It’s something you’re born with or is gifted to you by the Holy Spirit. You get the gifts you’re given. For instance, if someone has been given the spiritual gift of leadership, it can be developed and that art can be perfected over time through study and practice. Others without the spiritual gift of leadership may learn leadership skills but they’ll never have the talent to lead at the same level as someone with a leadership gift. I’m looking for young leaders who are very talented.

Capacity

In a world where everyone gets a participation trophy and kids are taught that they can do anything and be anything they want to be in life; what I’m about to say isn’t going to be very popular. But it will be true. While different people may have similar talents, they may have different capacities. The Bible is clear that while many people may get similar or even the same gifts, that they are given in different measure. So, no you can’t be anything you want to be, but you can be the best you that you’re designed to be. That being said, I’m looking for young leaders who have a high capacity.

Teachable

In the book of James, he Bible teaches us that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  You can’t give something to someone who doesn’t want to or isn’t ready to receive it. (both matter by the way). You can’t teach someone who isn’t teachable. I’m looking for young leaders who demonstrate a teachable spirit.

Effort

It’s okay for a young leader not to have an answer, but it’s not okay for that same young leader to not go find the answer. It’s okay for a young leader to fail and not get everything right the first time. It’s not okay for a young leader to not try as hard as they possibly can to succeed. I’m looking for young leaders who demonstrate tremendous effort.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing
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