One of the more common assumptions of the aging folk in a body of believers is that their congregation would benefit from a young pastor whom they assume would better relate to (and attract) the younger generation – the Millennials or Generation Ys (those who came of age at the turn of the millennium). In that Pastor Search Teams often include a healthy dose of aging folk, they inevitably begin their search with that assumption in play.
As a Pastor Search Consultant, one of my responsibilities is to challenge that assumption. While that assumption may have reflected reality a generation or two ago, in this generation we have little evidence supporting its validity. In fact, the evidence suggests that the age of a pastor, while a factor, has far less significance to Millennials than their parents and grandparents assume. Instead, when we look at congregations with a significant percentage of Millennials, we discover that they respect and relate to a pastor of any age – as long as that pastor is relatable and deserving of respect.
Confirmation for that assertion comes from a Millennial, Erica Moss. In her October 18, 2013 article, Moss debunks several common myths about Millennials. Here are a handful which speak into the life of a local congregation.
Myth #1: Millennials don’t respect authority figures and elders.
Truth: Generation Ys are a respectful bunch — but that respect has to be earned. We don’t just dole out respect because of an age disparity.
Myth #2:Millennials don’t care about political issues.
Truth: 91% of Millennials are registered voters and many are extremely involved in political movements.
Myth #3:Millennials air their dirty laundry all over social media.
Truth: Millennials are more private on social media than their elders, with 71% of social media users between the ages of 18-29 utilizing privacy settings compared to only 55% of users 55 and up. (This is probably because older people don’t know how to use them)
Myth #4:Millennials all about the Benjamins.
Truth: While Millennials are concerned with making money, they aren’t about becoming disgustingly rich. According to a Time magazine article by Chelsea Clinton, more college students favored “flexible hours and job development” over piles of cash money.
Myth #5:Millennials can only communicate via text message.
Truth: According to a Cornerstone OnDemand survey, 60% of Millennials would rather have a conversation face-to-face.
Myth #6:Millennials are easily won over by bright lights and pretty colors.
Truth: According to a study done by Jakob Nielsen, Millennials favor “streamlined, informative, user-friendly” website content over pretty lights.
Myth #7:Millennials are not loyal.
Truth: Considering we’ve grown up in the throes of financial crisis, we tend to give our loyalty to individuals rather than corporations, and may ask more questions before bestowing our faith.
Myth #8:Millennials are selfish, whiny babies.
Truth: While Time magazine may have called us “The Me Me Me Generation,” Millennials are more concerned with making a difference than earlier generations — more than 60% of us have volunteered for or given to charity.
Myth #9:Millennials don’t know how to work as a team.
Truth: This is a generation of collaborators. Millennials understand teamwork and fleshing out issues with peers.
Myth #10: ???