Newsletter 585 – The Significance of Millennials

This week I read an interview with Bill Marriott, CEO of the hotel business that carries his family name. Now 82, Marriott is looking ahead, committed to launching a new hotel chain aimed at the so-called millennial generation, (people born in 1980 or after, now ages 18-33). In four years an estimated 60% of Marriott’s business will be geared for Millennials, with room features and amenities largely designed with input from people in the target group.

Millennials 1Scientifically valid research shows that this group is forsaking religious institutions in droves. Young adult Evangelicals, traditional Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims are all leaving their faith traditions and few seem interested in coming back. The challenge of adapting and connecting across generations applies as well to colleges, professions, counselors, and businesses, including hotels.

Literally for centuries younger generations have been misunderstood and criticized by those who are older. Time magazine once did a cover story on Millennials with the biased headline “Me, Me, Me Generation.” Isn’t that equally true of other generations? Much better is the current issue of CT (July/August 2014) that focuses on how many Millennials are leading the church. Here are randomly-chosen practical conclusions, some from the magazine:

  • Connecting with Millennials takes more than a coffee shop or hip place to hang out. They want involvement and responsibility. Too many who come to churches feel unwanted and not needed .
  • This generation longs for face-to-face interpersonal interaction more because so much of their interaction is online. They value community and spontaneity.
  • Like other generations, Millennials don’t like to be stereotyped. They want to be accepted and appreciated for who they are.
  • Many are spiritually starved but they want in-depth spiritual experiences, knowledge, and opportunity for discussion without being manipulated or forced into some theological or denominational mold.
  • Many Millennials are heavily involved in service to others. Many want to be successful in the arts, technology, business, and other careers. But they are less concerned about money, prominence or power.
  • They are not opposed to interaction with older mentors who respect them as they are and don’t try to imitate or look like them.
  • From a personal perspective, I have several twenty-something close friends. We appreciate, enjoy, accept and learn from each other.

What is your experience with Millennials? Please comment.

    • Rob Stevens
    • July 25th, 2014

    Hi Gary – Could not resist commenting on this one… as I read the bullets about what Millennials want, my initial thought was I want the same thing…wanted and needed by the church, face to face interaction, accepted and appreciated for who I am, in-depth spiritual conversation, not all that concerned about money, prominence and power, interaction with older mentors. Maybe they are not that different from my generation or perhaps I was born quite a few years to soon.

    • Sue
    • July 26th, 2014

    Here’s what my daughter born in 1988 had to say:
    #1, people who were born in 1980 are not millennials. Those people are part of generation X. I would say melennials were born 1985 or later, but that’s just my opinion. It is hard to make sweeping generalizations about an entire group. You couldn’t say “black people feel” “women feel” ” gay people believe” etc because groups are made up of individuals with unique thoughts and feelings.

    Do only young people feel disconnected in this modern world? Older folks may feel just as disillusioned with organized religion but are more stuck in their ways, continue to go out of habit.

    Can anyone quantify what an entire generation thinks or believes? Doubtful. I will say on a personal level I, and many of my friends, do not feel the same need to achieve the “American dream” and our ideals differ from that of our parents.

    This may be due to the debt and jobs crisis, the internet, anything really.

  1. I am a 66-year-old pastor’s wife and I have led our young adult group for the past 7 years. Every week we have anywhere from 8 – 18 who gather just to fellowship, ask tough questions, learn how to defend their faith and talk about current events and what their role should be in the world today. And, you’re right – they do want to be connected and feel valued. I also began a mentoring group with the young adult girls ages 19-23. We meet for lunch monthly and, under an extremely high level of confidentiality, I let them bring up any topic they wish. They have grown in their relationships together and I’ve learned more from them than they have from me. I wouldn’t trade leading this age group for anything.

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