The following is part of a series on generations and what I have learned about them.
What defines the characteristics of a generation? I believe there are several factors at play when the characteristics of a generation are formed. Some of these include the parents they were raised by as well as the domestic and world events during their formative years. In the past couple of days we talked about the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation, and the Baby Boomer Generation. Today we are going to complete the generation and how we might deal with them in the Church. As we do so, please understand this is a generalization of entire generations.
Generation Jones 1954-65
Now I know you might be thinking that we already covered these years, and yes we did. Some want to draw a line in the sand and break up the Baby Boomer Generation. Those that do sight that birth rates took a plunge in 1954 and that there are some different ideals. Some Characteristics about this generation are they arose less optimistic, they distrust the government more, and are generally cynical. This has a lot to do with the things of their era, like the oil crises of the 70’s and the war in Vietnam.
This generation can be a challenge to work with in the church. They take there distrust of government over to the church. They see the world wearing dark tinted glasses, and they see the church the same way. This generation, like the Baby Boomers can be hard to get involved in things and when they do, the commitment level is not that high. Those who have been in the church most of their lives are committed and even stepping up to be leaders and Elders. This generation is highly educated and wants real answers to the questions we ask. We have to be prepared to give those real answers.
Generation X – 1963-1979
This generation was born at the end of the Vietnam War, and saw the end of the cold war and the fall of communism. They grew up during relative peace; they hold the highest levels of education of any generation; and they saw the rise of computers, video games, and the internet. This generation tends to make less money than their fathers did, but their hose hold incomes are higher because of working spouses. This generation is very pragmatic and perceptive to new things. They are very savvy but amoral. This generation is more focused on earning money than creating art.
This generation can be a great benefit to any church. Getting them in the church however can be a challenge. There are so many things screaming for this generation’s time that adding something else can be a challenge. What this generation is looking for is a church that can help to meet the needs of their families. They want churches that have things for their kids, have things that reduce the number of things they have to do, and have things that get them involved. This generation wants to see technology being used to demonstrate the gospel, as well as seeing things done professionally. They are consumer driven, and want the church to act like a marketer. This has forced the church to keep up with the modern day world.
Generation Y – 1978-1992
This generation was born during the collapse of USSR, the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War. This generation was born in a time of resurgence of the US as an economic world power. This generation is driven by communication such as media and digital technology. This generation signs on daily to Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, YouTube, and their person blogs. They can be called the MTV generation. This generation no longer receives their news the “old fashioned” way of the newspaper. 74% of this generation receives its new by TV or the Internet. They grew up participating and trying everything under the sun. Because of social networking this generation is greatly affected by what their peers are doing. They have also delayed the plunge into adult hood by living with their parents longer, waiting longer for marriage, and those who choose to, waiting longer to have children. Because of this delaying of adulthood, this generation is more in touch with their parents than generation before. They have have forced business to change its strategy’s and marketing. When it comes to working, this generation seeks more feedback and responsibility, but does not want to be left out of decision making. However, they want their jobs to adapt to their lives instead of adapting their lives to their jobs.
This generation has become very focused on me. Because their grandparents parents left (the broad Baby Boomer Generation), we have a long way to go when it comes to brining them to Christ. They do not see the need for salvation. They have been raised in a world that say if it feels good do it. Their morals are based on what they want them to be. Teaching about the love of Christ is a long road. However, this generation is looking for meaning and purpose. They want to know what they are here for and they want completeness. We have a perfect opportunity to show them that only true completeness is found in Jesus Christ. We must do that by being open going to where they are, maybe that can be through blogging and social networking. We must also change the way we market the church. We must now look professional, put together, like we know what we are doing. This generation seeks this in all aspects of their lives. This generation is waiting for us to come to them. With this generation, more than any before it, must we follow the approach of Christ, and go to the people, where they, no matter how far away.
There is one more generation living in our society today. However, they are still coming into their own and I will not discuss them here. Check back Monday to see how all of this ties together.