My good friend Jude Blayney pastors in Adelaide at C3 Church Melrose Park.

He about to finish a Masters in Business Leadership and his planned thesis is generational change in leadership.

He is passionate about understanding the people he pastors and in particular the rising generation of young leaders, often referred to as Millennials.

While engaging with this generation Jude has extensively studied their habits and styles and is trying various things to interact with, and lead them.

His insights are gathered from the front lines of pastoral ministry and will help you work with this rising generation.

Thanks Jude.

In most churches we find different generational groups. 

Each of these groups has different attitudes, behaviours and beliefs about a whole range of subjects including finance, the bible, and relationships.

Building a healthy church requires leaders to work with and build connections to all these generations.

One generation that is in the spotlight right now is the Millennials sometimes referred to as Generation Y.

millennials

Words or phrases used to describe Millennials/Generation Y include

interactive

impulsive

entitled

fearless

self-absorbed

empowered

participation

ownership

Hyper-collaboration

inclusion

We have focused on Inclusion, Participation and Collaboration to engage the Millennials. 

Inclusion

Inclusion simply means they want personally to feel included and they want to have this reflected to others as an atmosphere in their places/spaces they cohabit.

A key component of inclusion is communication. 

If we don’t communicate clearly with someone how can we connect with him or her so that they sense inclusion?

We decided to change the way we communicated in church.

Our newssheet reflects the Boomer/Generation X feel with more information while our Facebook posts and Instagram reflect a more engaging persona to connect with the Millennials. (N.B. that Facebook isn’t the main domain of the Millennials rather it is more a train station on their journey).

Further, communication with Millennials went beyond emailing everyone, to using apps like Messenger to immediately connect with the Millennials.

It’s ok to use email with Boomers and X but we need to embrace the way Millennials communicate if they are going to feel included.

Another aspect of inclusion is the belief their world is a ‘web’ or network not hierarchical system. 

In other words, they can and should be able to directly communicate with any leader concerning ideas, concepts or vision.

They are not usurping authority as such, rather contributing in the fashion they have been trained in and understand.

We make room for this by using apps like ‘whatsapp’ and ‘trello’ which allow communication to all

These applications are interactive and create hyper collaboration and immediate communication through the network not through a hierarchy of leadership.

Participation

This requires involvement.

We get them in the pulpit for communion messages, even sermons when I am around, as a profiling method but we add to this by providing points/moments of reflection.

We ask all Millennials (actually all people for that matter) to reflect back to someone 3 things they loved about what they did and one thing they would change.

Then we reflect back to them one thing we would change and things we loved.

Millennials aren’t averse to correction but they do want affirmation.

Getting the right balance encourages participation.

This at times has caused me as the Senior Pastor to step aside, to allow for others. It’s a personal challenge to not feel threatened.

Participation can also be seen in Millennials through a strong sense of personal ownership to change the world.

Ownership for them relates to who has control.

They want to be able to control their personal mission.

So how can the church give them control without relinquishing vision, wisdom or connection to the other generations? 

Church leadership needs to find ways of developing the difference between individual control vs corporate control.

For us, we chose to give them aspects of control through the way they give.

This relates to using apps like Push-pay and Tithe.ly so they can control what they give.

Also, rather than just talking about serving in the church talk about personal serving as a part of a personal mission. It becomes about my mission in the church not just about the church needing people to contribute.

Collaboration

This involves influence.

This is not so much about asking transformational questions (the end result of trying to get to an outcome determined or undetermined) but rather making deliberate decisions to create giving and receiving moments.

As leaders these moments are a two way street, actually it’s more like a multi-laned intersection. 

We use very open questions about services or events (with NO expectation of the outcome).

‘What we going to do for New Years Day as it’s a Sunday?’

We make sure the Boomers and the X’s are included but ask some Millennials to speak first.

Millennials don’t want control they crave to be heard for influence.

The result is often very messy conversations but the buy in is very high.

The goal is NOT finding consensus but rather allowing for differing views to be expressed.

This is called hyper-collaboration. 

Hyper collaboration brings challenges to other management and leadership styles.

Boomers tend to be more rigid around a particular leadership trend while Generation X tend to look to getting results and performance.

Millennials don’t necessarily have any issues with these except they are more personal in their application by allowing people to do what they want to do. Working with this in churches can be challenging.

For us, we regularly have leadership and staff reviews to help connect the Millennials to what they want to do and what they feel they can do.

This takes time but is very rewarding.

Engaging Millennials requires time, and deep commitment to foster inclusion, allow participation and to champion collaboration. It’s a journey we are on and will fight to stay on for the future. 

Well that’s an excellent post from Jude, thanks you my good friend.

You may like to read these other insightful posts on millennials

What Millennials Need In A Leader

Why Millennials Won’t Build the Kinds of Churches their Parents Built

 

4 Responses

  1. After reading this post i am extremely conflicted. I was part of the church Jude Blayney runs for nearly 10 years and can honestly say that as nice and well written that it is, this is not how the church is run and people of all generations mentioned in this article are left battered and abused emotionally and spiritually. There are countless people who now no longer attend that so called church who were spiritually and emotional raped then ostracized when you are no longer of any use, while other church members are advised not to contact them. This is a “church” that spends more time sweeping things under the rug than time engaging with people of all generations. I can only pray that Jude Blayney has changed however everything i hear from those still attending comes back the same.

  2. This, I found, after reading it a couple of times, quite Interesting. Communicating with people. My goodness we do need that to happen in a less superficial way. Here’s a bit of a broad generalisation. But it’s my observation,…
    The larger the church gets the more the communication becomes impersonal. And more often it’s when someone in some leadership position wants someone from among the people attending to do something. Inevitable? Probably. Does it have to be that way? No, not really.

    Two areas in the post today probably warranted a little more unpacking.
    What do I mean? Well, for example:..
    …..”It’s ok to use email with
    Boomers and X but we need to embrace the way Millennials communicate if they
    are going to feel included.”

    …..
    I reckon this one sounds like it comes from the “every little kid gets a gold star for participating rather than an assessment for their effort” syndrome!
    Hmmm. But that’s not my point.

    Emails are so impersonal when it comes to desiring the giving of ones time or finance. I feel that we need to embrace a new personal communication method with the Boomers (and the X’ers) as well. In other words, what is possibly happening is that the Boomers and Xers tend to put up with the impersonal comms, but the Yers, now sometimes referred to as the “Millennials”, just won’t go along with it – and I reckon rightly so.

    Life in the current lane has sped up so much that people have become time poor. And that is the Boomers fault. They invented all these fine toys that set the clock going twice as fast.

    The other area that needs further unpacking, well for me anyway, is,…
    Engaging Millennials requires time, and deep commitment to foster
    inclusion, allow participation and to champion collaboration. It’s a
    journey we are on and will fight to stay on for the future.
    Not only do I hope that this journey continues to build but I hope that it’s fought for with every piece of ammunition and equipment that is available. In our country the lack of inclusion and collaboration is seen right at the very top of the political spectrum in Canberra. They clearly didn’t play enough team sports as they were growing up. Some churches are trying desperately to fend off the trend. Too many have simply opted the other way.

    The good part of this quote is that change has to begin somewhere so skipping the X’ers and starting with the Y’ers, sometimes called the Millennials but only in the last couple of years, is probably a good thing. Why? Because inevitably it is going to take a number of years to achieve the point of critical influence for it to permeate right through Church organisations.

    But change is coming,… I can feel it blowing in the wind!

    1. Thanks David. Unpacking some these statements is a given but to help you understand where I was coming from …every generation have styles of leadership that are normal to them and thus communication that fits that style is more preferable if we want to engage Millennials. (Yep that needs unpacking too but if you are interested have a look for an article by R Staley called Talkin about my generation to help unpack that statement about leadership styles) While they grew up with the syndrome ‘everyone gets a certificate’ .. this is not the premise, behind engaging with them rather it is fact they have learnt to communicate a certain way and that wasn’t emails it was instant messaging. But I do concede that the everyone gets a certificate is connected to communication but maybe not how you have expressed it for me. The everyone gets a certificate for me is strongly correlated to there web based way of doing life … alll interconnected (this everyone gets something) such they need communication methods that reflect that for me.

      As you say it’s a fight worth fighting for Millennials are the current future .

      1. Like your reply, Jude.
        One important factor, that I see in this very crucial issue for church continuance – as different from growth – is that communication has become so fluid in the last 25-30 years. First the Phone, then the chatbords in the days of Dos, then email, then mobile phone,… but after that came the explosion of a plethora of avenues.

        Now I understand that your central focus in your thesis was on the Millennials. And rightly so because just as the X’ers tried to differentiate themselves from the Boomers era, the Millennials have made an art out of it. That group group has developed a propensity to leap from one type of communication to the next one that pops up, or should I say the neveral that pops up. And this is where I suspect the difference between the Boomer and X’er and the Millennials is at it’s most obvious; probably because they are inventing their own now 😏.

        However, the resilience and the adaptability of the boomers and the X’ers is such that whatever methodology that is adopted to communicate with the Millennials, as the toughest group to keep up with, the Church will need to use the same with the older groups. Why do I say that? Just look at the current political situation happening in the western world. It’s not just the kids who are restless.

        Don’t get me wrong. I think you are right. What I am saying is, what you have set out in your thesis, as represented in this arrival, is timely and necessary. The essence of it is a tad similar but more extensive than the coming of age of the X’ers. What’s different now though is that theX’ers were much more restrained by the ropes of that powerful group preceding them. The Millennials are like an under 8 year old football match – a mass movement of bunched 40 kids across the ground. Trying to keep up with them is the battle for innovative leaders like yourself. Best of luck at that! But you will do it because there is passion and focus expressed in your article that arises from a lot of reflection.

        Thanks for replying.
        David.

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