If the Kingdom of God is to advance, it behooves the church to think innovatively in reaching the largest demographic, the Millennial Generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am sharing excerpts from my research paper, The Millennials, on the Jesus Saves Ministries Blog August 25th-31st as a seven-part series. Scroll down the blog to read Part 1, the Introduction and Part 2 on Demographics. Today's segment will address Cultural Influences. Wednesday's segment will look at Employment & Investment. Thursday & Friday, we will explore Ministry Implications and Saturday, I will recap and conclude the series. This research project was an eye-opener for me. If you are a pastor, minister, lay leader struggling to keep young people in your church, or just a concerned parent wondering why your young adult won't go to church, this should begin to help answer questions for you.
Part 3: Cultural Influences
Every generation has experienced unique developments and advances, crises and catastrophes, and political impacts that have help to shape their perspectives as they matured into adulthood. Major innovations in technology, postmodernism, the World Trade Center attack, the war on terror, the Great Recession, numerous natural disasters including Hurricane Katrina, an increase in school shootings and bombings including the Columbine High School shooting and Murrah Federal Building truck bombing, and the election of the first African American president in U.S. history are some of the cultural influences that have impacted young adults 32 and under. This age group witnessed the introduction of homeland security and new policies to secure our boarders from terrorist attacks. Consequently, “homelanders” are more cautious and calculated than previous generations. Though cautious, they are not fearful. In fact, they are very optimistic that they can provide answers to both domestic and international problems. Nine out of ten young adults believe it is their responsibility to make a difference in the world (Rainer, p. 36), and 75 percent believe it is their role to serve other people (Ibid, p. 37).
According to Millennials under age 30, innovations in technology is the number one factor that uniquely distinguishes them from the previous three generations. Theirs is a world of uninhibited access to data and information through technology. They see the world as a much smaller place since they can connect with people in the next state or on the next continent with almost equally quick internet speeds. Based on a recent Pew Report, approximately 24 % of young adults under age 30 say technology sets their generation apart, followed by their music, pop culture and style (11%), their liberalism and tolerance (7%), with Intelligence and clothing round out the top five factors, at 6% and 5% respectively. Joel Stein states in the Time article, “Millennials: The Me, Me, Me Generation,” “The information revolution has further empowered individuals by handing them the technology to compete against huge organizations: hackers vs. corporations, bloggers vs. newspapers, terrorists vs. nation-states, YouTube directors vs. studios, app-makers vs. entire industries. Millennials don't need us. That's why we're scared of them.”
Contrary to previously held notions about the “generation gap” and parents not being able to relate to their children, surprisingly, Millennials rank parental influence number one on their list influences. Millennials are very close to their parents and want to receive advice from them. Not only have “helicopter parents” hovered over their children, giving special attention and sheltering, they have created great relationships with their teens and young adults Nearly nine out of ten, 88% look to their parents as a positive influence and a vast majority, 85 percent look to their parents as their primary source of advice and guidance (Rainer, p. ). Because they have such great relationships with their parents, many are able to relate to older adults. Approximately 40 percent say they have mentors.Excerpts from my research paper, The Millennials, will be posted August 26th-31st as a seven-part series. This paper was written in partial fulfillment of course work for the Masters of Theology program at Campbellsville University, June 2013. All rights reserved.
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