Here are some observations on the Milennial Generation from the Hugh Hewitt interview with Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais….authors of Millenial Makeover: MySpace, You Tube, and the Future of American Politics.

Whether you care about politics or not, this generation is already influencing and will be transforming everthing they interact with.

And whether you agree with them or not, they bring some much needed ideas. I’m especially interested in how they are influencing the Church, which is not talked about here. But that’s for other posts. Just know that what is discussed here is obviously influencing the Church.

Now here are some very brief observations on some of the summaries that authors make in the interview. I didn’t really organize it…but peruse the observations made by the authors. Very interesting.

  • Millenials are people born between 1982 in 2003 (at least as defined in the US).
  • Largest generation in American history. 1 million more than the previous largest generation…the Baby Boomers.
  • Twice as many Milennials as Gen X’ers
  • Most ethnically diverse generation in American History…40% are either African American, Asian or Mixed Race; 20% have at least one immigrant parent.
  • Generation “least bound” by gender and role restriction.
  • Half of Millenials that are in college are female; first time in history.
  • Highly socially tolerant generation.
  • “Civic Generation”…lineal descendants of the last Civic Generation the GI/Greatest Generation (i.e. Depression, WWII, etc.)
  • See a need for a greater economic equality in the country…respond to economic injustice. Will be interested in re-distribution policies to make economic inequality to go away.
  • Voting for Obama anywhere from a minimum of 2/3/4 to 1 over Hilary. 6 to 1 in Iowa.
  • Agreement across gender lines with Millenials. No gender gap.
  • Question by Hugh: “Why do they like Obama so much more than Hilary?” Answer by the authors: 1) Differences in Style–Hilary is running a classic Boomer campaign of Compare and Contrast, or Divide and Conquer. Obama is running a campaign of unification of the country, message of hope and change. 2) Obama has married that message with the right medium. He is doing social networking better than any campaign in history.
  • Communication to this generation via text, online, etc. is how they make decisions, rather than listening to authority. They make decisions based on their connectivity network, rather than make decisions based on authority.
  • You should have two different strategies to reach the Boomers and the Millenials. And they should be, and better be completely different. The Millenials can sniff out any in-authenticity in marketing. They don’t care about or watch TV, because they would rather be online and communicating and networking with people.
  • Very “green.” They respect the environment. Believe in being good stewards of the environment.
  • There are conservative Millenials, but when it comes to Millenials, liberals outnumber them 2 to 1 for the first time in history. This will impact politics for generations to come.
  • More inclined to join the military. “They were seared by 911.” Have security concerns. Very respectful and proud of the military, and fire and police force. Not the Boomer anti-adult institution. Respect their parents.
  • Issues such as gay rights, gay marriage, interracial dating, interracial marriage, etc…are dead issues to them…it just doesn’t matter to them…these issues were decided long ago.
  • Very much constrained by the financial challenges this country has created…will want to solve these fiscal problems…will want to tax those who have money, and give it to those who don’t.
  • Interested in Peer to Peer, Bottoms-Up organizing styles, and not Top-Down, Command and Control style. You can appeal to them if you can talk to them about communitarian solutions that are self organizing.
  • Authenticity is important. Lying is not okay to this generation.
  • Millenials do not like to desert their elders; believe in their elders; even if their elders act in crazy ways (reason why Obama’s ratings went up after supporting his pastor (Rev. Wright), after his comments.
  • Question by Hugh Hewitt: “What do they want?” Answer by authors: “Wonderful family life…life that is filled with the riches of interpersonal relationships, and that has enough income so that they aren’t pressured enough on the income side.” …”They want to leave America in better condition than they found it.”

How does this impact ministry in a PC(USA) Church? Here are just a few take aways i got from this interview. Of course, every PC(USA) Church is not like this, but I’m painting with broad brush strokes at this point.

  • The PC(USA) is a Top-Down, Command and Control organization. This structure and style of leadership I believe will push away this generation, and already has in many ways.
  • The PC(USA) for years has been focused on and trying to answer the question of homosexuality, especially as it relates to ordination and the vows involved in being ordained. According to this generation this isn’t even a question. So why the denomination spends all of its time on this issue, it is considered a non-issue by the Millenials. This forces them away from the PC(USA) and into other church communities and denominations.
  • The PC(USA) is a denomination based on decisions made by authority. But because of technology especially, Millenials bypass the decisions of authority and reach concensus within their own social circles.

If the PC(USA) hopes to attract this generation through its doors, it will radically have to restructure its leadership, ordination procedures, vehicles of communication (especially with technology), etc.