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Leading Millennials in ministry

January 8, 2017

Every college student you’re trying to reach is a millennial. More than likely, your team of college ministers is made up of millennials (millennials were born between 1982 and 2004).

Simon Sinek’s talk on Millennials in the Workplace gives some incredible insight into different issues this generation faces.

Although, he’s talking about leading millennials in the workplace, it applies just as well to leading and reaching them on the college campus.

Here are a few of my thoughts on addressing some of these same issues facing millennials in our ministries:

Relationships and trust

We need to coach our students in how to build relationships and trust.

One easy step – put your phone away when you are on campus, look for people to talk to.

When you’re hanging out with students, turn your phone off. Establish from the beginning that the people in front of you are more important than your social media. That’s how trust and relationships are built.

Biblical approach to technology

We should pray and dig into the scriptures asking God what a right attitude towards technology looks like.

We should lead by example, not asking our students to give up their smartphone if we aren’t willing to give up our own.

Long term vision

With our interns and new staff, we need to keep the long term vision in front of them—reminding them that world change doesn’t happen in a year or two—but over decades.

According to Simon, there are four main categories that millennials are especially prone to struggle in:

  1. Parenting
    Too many grew up under failed parenting strategies.They were told they could achieve anything they want in life by just believing in themselves. Some of them are going to have trouble with independence.

    When they get a job and are thrust into the real world, they will learn mom can’t complain to their boss to save them.

  2. Technology
    We know that engagement with social media and our cellphones releases a chemical called dopamine.That’s why when you get a text it feels good, right?

    We have an entire generation that had access to this addictive numbing chemical called dopamine through social media and cell phones as they’re going through the high stress of adolescence.

    We’re supposed to learn to rely on our friends during adolescence, but through unfettered access to technology too many kids don’t know how to form deep, meaningful relationships…they’ve never practiced the skill set.

    And what’s sometimes worse, they never developed mature coping mechanisms to deal with stress.So when stress shows up instead of turning to a person they turn to a device.

    If you’re sitting at dinner with your friends and you’re texting somebody who’s not there, that’s a problem.

  3. Impatience
    They’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification (Amazon next day, Netflix, etc).You wanna go on a date? You don’t have to practice that skill, you just swipe right.

    Everything you want you can have instantly—except, job satisfaction and strength of relationships.

    There ain’t no app for that.

    Those are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes.

    I keep meeting these wonderful, fantastic, idealistic, hard-working smart kids.

    They just graduated school and they’re in their entry-level job. I sit down with them and I go “how’s it going”. And they go “I think I’m gonna quit… I’m not making an impact.”

    I’m like, “You’ve been here eight months!”

    It’s as if they’re standing at the foot of a mountain and they have this abstract concept called impact which is the summit but what they don’t see is the mountain.

    What this generation needs to learn is patience. And to discern what things really, really matter.

    This takes time. The journey is long and difficult.

  4. Environment
    We’re taking this amazing group of young kids who have been dealt a bad hand and putting them in companies that care more about short term gains than life long skill-development and a lifetime of impact.They aren’t helping them overcome the challenges of a digital world or the need to have instant gratification and teach them the joys and impact and the fulfillment from hard work.

    It’s the company’s responsibility to work extra hard to build their confidence and social skills.

    There should be no cell phones in conference rooms.

    When we are waiting for a meeting to start, no cell phones. Looking at your cell phone up until the meeting starts—that’s not how relationships are formed.

    Trust is built in those conversations before the meeting starts.

It’s well worth 15 minutes of your time! Click below to hear the full talk.