- They Match Post-Christian Culture. Living in a post-Christian culture means nominal religion is faltering (you are Christian and go to church because your family always has). On the flip-side, those who are still involved in their faith are proving to be incredibly passionate, theologically-driven, and scripturally-focused. This trend crosses into the Millennial generation. Whereas many churches fear the exodus of this next generation, there are incredibly passionate young Christ-followers and they are still engaging. Their engagement, however, depends greatly on the health, innovation, and intimacy of their local faith community.
- They are Feedback-Oriented. Millennials are going to want to hear from their leadership, in any area of life. A lot, and more than other generations. There's a real desire on the part of Millennials to be mentored and to learn consistently from their elders. While this could be focused on solely as a positive, it may as well come from insecurity, fear, and an upbringing where they were told everyone is supposed to be a winner and a rockstar. Regardless, leadership that compliments and supports young people for their successes, and genuinely uses failures as loving, teaching moments, will be a magnet.
- They are Division-Averse. Maybe this is more anecdotal than statistical, but the sense is that while Millennials may affiliate denominationally or theologically, they are much less likely to fall on the sword for their beliefs or allow differing traditions or ideas to be divisive. A heart for faith that creates social impact could be to blame, where Millennials are more interested in agreement on the basics that allows for collaboration and unity. Millennials also tend to individualize their faith practice, which is more decentralized and less reliant on top-down denominational or systematic theology.
- They are Global. Millennials are growing up today often speaking more than one language at home, and many travel more by their mid-20s than adults of previous generations have by their 50s. They're sometimes called the "Born Global" Generation. The ambiguity of multilingual communication, the worldview of international travel, and the connectivity of the Internet makes for a much more open, flexible, and inclusive perspective of the world around them.
- They are the "Why" Generation. I came across this idea the other day, and I think it holds some truth: Millennials are the "Why" Generation not because pushing the status quo and questioning everything is the cool thing to do, but because Millennials have watched a lot of people do life the way "you're supposed to," with unsavory results. Save your money and have a smart financial plan? Meet the recession. Get married to the person that you love? Meet skyrocketing divorce rates. Go to college, get a good education, and get an amazing job? Meet a shrinking job market or jobs that have nothing to do with what you spent $100,000 to learn. The list could go on. For churches, being a space that allows for asking questions, expressing doubts and frustrations, and relationally walking through the answers together is absolutely necessary.
If you're a Millennial reading, do these descriptions line up? If you're an older leader, do they encourage, discourage, or inform you?