GEN Z & 7 Helpful Insights from Recent Research.

Another Look at the ‘Least Religious Generation’

by Drew Moser, Christianity Today, 9/25/19.

The Twentysomething Soul: Understanding the Religious and Secular Lives of American Young Adults, by Tim Clydesdale and Kathleen Garces-Foley… the authors’ original research, which draws from hundreds of interviews and thousands of surveys of twentysomethings across the nation. Their analysis focuses on the 91 percent of American twentysomethings who identify as either Christian (Catholic, evangelical, or mainline Protestant) or “religiously unaffiliated.” (Twentysomethings of other faith traditions are not considered in this book.) Clydesdale and Garces-Foley distill their work into seven major claims:

  • Contrary to popular opinion, the beliefs and practices of American twentysomethings reveal far more continuity than decline.
  • One in three twentysomethings attend worship regularly, but they cluster within young-adult friendly congregations.
  • The religiously unaffiliated are a diverse group, consisting of atheists, agnostics, and believers.
  • Today’s American twentysomethings adopt one of four approaches to faith: They prioritize it, they reject it, they sideline it, or they practice an “eclectic spirituality.”
  • American twentysomething spirituality groups into two camps: traditionally religious and nontraditional.
  • Those American twentysomethings who prioritize religious and spiritual life are more likely to engage in a certain set of practices: marriage, parenthood, college graduation, employment, voting, community engagement, and social involvement.
  • American twentysomethings view institutions differently than their elders: As the authors explain, “Today’s twentysomethings experience the world less as sets of institutions prescribing standard life scripts and more as nodes on a network from which they can freely choose cultural symbols, strategies, and interpretations.”

ATTENDANCE & Most Young Adults Drop Out of Church Between Ages 18-22 For These Reasons #LifeWayResearch

by Aaron Earls, LifeWay, 2/18/19.

… Two-thirds (66 percent) of American young adults who attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year as a teenager say they also dropped out for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. Thirty-four percent say they continued to attend twice a month or more.

While the 66 percent may be troubling for many church leaders, the numbers may appear more hopeful when compared to a 2007 study from LifeWay Research. Previously, 70 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds left church for at least one year.

“The good news for Christian leaders is that churches don’t seem to be losing more students than they were 10 years ago. However, the difference in the dropout rate now and then is not large enough statistically to say it has actually improved,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“The reality is that Protestant churches continue to see the new generation walk away as young adults. Regardless of any external factors, the Protestant church is slowly shrinking from within.”

When They Drop Out

The dropout rate for young adults accelerates with age, the study found.

While 69 percent say they were attending at age 17, that fell to 58 percent at age 18 and 40 percent at age 19. Once they reach their 20s, around 1 in 3 say they were attending church regularly.

“Overall Protestant churches see many teenagers attending regularly only for a season. Many families just don’t attend that often,” said McConnell.

“As those teenagers reach their late teen years, even those with a history of regular church attendance are pulled away as they get increased independence, a driver’s license, or a job. The question becomes: will they become like older adults who have all those things and still attend or will students choose to stay away longer than a year.”

Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry at LifeWay, said those numbers speak to the issue at hand. “We are seeing teenagers drop out of the church as they make the transition out of high school and student ministry,” he said. “This moment of transition is often too late to act for churches.”

Why They Drop Out

Virtually all of those who dropped out (96 percent) listed a change in their life situation as a reason for their dropping out. Fewer say it was related to the church or pastor (73 percent); religious, ethical or political beliefs (70 percent); or the student ministry (63 percent).

The five most frequently chosen specific reasons for dropping out were: moving to college and no longer attending (34 percent); church members seeming judgmental or hypocritical (32 percent); no longer feeling connected to people in their church (29 percent); disagreeing with the church’s stance on political or social issues (25 percent); and work responsibilities (24 percent).

Almost half (47 percent) of those who dropped out and attended college say moving to college played a role in their no longer attending church for at least a year.

“Most of the reasons young adults leave the church reflect shifting personal priorities and changes in their own habits,” said McConnell. “Even when churches have faithfully communicated their beliefs through words and actions, not every teenager who attends embraces or prioritizes those beliefs.”

Among all those who dropped out, 29 percent say they planned on taking a break from church once they graduated high school. Seven in 10 (71 percent) say their leaving wasn’t an intentional decision.

“For the most part, people aren’t leaving the church out of bitterness, the influence of college atheists, or a renunciation of their faith,” said Trueblood.

“What the research tells us may be even more concerning for Protestant churches: there was nothing about the church experience or faith foundation of those teenagers that caused them to seek out a connection to a local church once they entered a new phase of life. The time they spent with activity in church was simply replaced by something else.”

Read more at … https://lifewayresearch.com/2019/01/15/most-teenagers-drop-out-of-church-as-young-adults/

GENERATIONS & Mr Potato Head gets fired, replaced by his millennial counterpart Mr Avo Head per #Hasbro (#AprilFools ;-) #SeeThePicture

by Rachael Thompson, Mashable, 4/1/19, April Fools Day.

Mr Avo Head, suitable for all millennials.
Mr Avo Head, suitable for all millennials.
IMAGE: HASBRO

On April 1, 2019, also known as April Fools’ Day, Hasbro announced the termination of our spud-like pal’s contract to make way for his millennial replacement, Mr Avo Head. 

“It’s no guaccident that the avocado was chosen to replace the carby potato,” reads Hasbro’s statement. “Hasbro has announced that Mr Potato Head will no longer be a star carb character and will be replaced with his soon to be Insta-famous rival, Mr Avo Head.”

Read more at … https://mashable.com/article/mr-potato-head-avo-head/#ZDkWb9MIbZqQ

MILLENNIALS & This 1 Sentence Summarizes the Entire Millennial Generation

by Nicolas Cole, Inc. Magazine, 1/21/18.

This one sentence summarizes the entire Millennial generation:

“I want to be the one who comes up with the idea, not the person who executes on it.”

That’s the problem.

The world doesn’t need more ideas. Ideas are easy. Ideas are as abundant as air itself.

What the world needs is more hands on deck, more doers, more builders–more people who know the value of patience, and who can take something that sounds great in theory and work to bring it to life.

Because let me tell you: The way an idea starts is never the way the idea ends.

What sounds like utopia often turns out to be a complicated web of inconsistencies.

And any idea that is immediately validated because it sounds good usually turns out to be a weak or worthless idea.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/every-ambitious-millennial-that-makes-this-1-mistake-fails.html

GEN. Z & Post-millennial generation ‘more tolerant’ of Christianity, but view atheists as having more fun. #TheUKGuardianNewspaper

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  2 things to remember about Gen. Z:

  1. Congregational good deeds are making non-churchgoers view churches in a more positive light.
  2. But non-churchgoers still view Christians as not fun people to hang around.

Take into consideration these perspectives of Gen. Z when ministering among and to them.

Post-millennial generation ‘more tolerant’ of Christianity” by Harriet Sherwood, The UK Guardian Newspaper, 7/12/18.

… Just over half of members of Generation Z (18-24-year-olds) responding to the ComRes survey said they had a positive experience of Christians and Christianity, although two-thirds said they never went to church.

Across all age groups, only 7% said Christians were more fun than atheists. Among 18-24-year-olds, 38% indicated they would have more fun socialising with an atheist than a Christian, compared with 11% who said Christians were more fun to socialise with. Most respondents expressed no view on the subject.

Over recent decades, surveys have established a trend indicating that many people in younger generations have rejected organised religion and the institutions of faith in favour of an amorphous spiritualism. In 2016, the authoritative British Social Attitudes survey found that 71% of 18-34-years-olds said they had no religion, up from 62% the previous year.

Half of the Generation Z respondents in the ComRes survey said they disagreed with the statement that Christians were a negative force in society, with 12% agreeing. In the next age group, 25-34-year-olds, 14% agreed with the statement. The average across all age groups agreeing that Christians were a negative force was 10%, compared with 51% disagreeing.

Two-thirds of 18-24-year-olds said they never went to church; attendance by the remaining third ranged from once or twice a year (20%) to several times a week (2%).

…The ComRes survey was carried out to mark the publication of a book, Faitheism, by Krish Kandiah, a Christian academic and founder of the adoption and fostering agency, Home for Good. ComRes questioned just over 4,000 people in March this year.

Read more at … https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/12/post-millennial-generation-uk-more-tolerant-of-christianity

GENERATIONS & The surprising reasons members of Generation Z become Christians: #Family #ChristianSchool #SundaySchool #Bible

By Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 3/28/18

A recent survey sought to find out the spiritual temperature of British members of Generation Z. Researchers were so shocked by the results they delayed releasing the results until they could analyze it more.

More than 1 in 5 British people (21 percent) between the ages of 11 and 18 describe themselves as active followers of Jesus, with 13 percent saying they are practicing Christians who attend church.

The perception had been that Christianity was much lower among British teens. “There was disbelief among the team [of researchers] because it was so high,” Jimmy Dale, the Church of England’s national youth evangelism officer, told the Telegraph.

The survey, commissioned by Hope Revolution Partnership, a Christian youth organization, also asked young people why they became Christians.

While almost half (45 percent) say their growing up in a Christian family was one of the most important reasons they became a Christian themselves, many listed some unexpected reasons for their faith.

Researchers asked: “When you think about the reasons you became a Christian which two or three of the following, if any, were most important for you?”

Here’s how the members of Generation Z responded:

45% growing up in a Christian family
17% going to a religious school
15% Sunday School
15% reading the Bible
13% visiting a church building
13% going to a church wedding, funeral, christening, baptism, confirmation
12% going to a regular church service
11% a youth group
10% a spiritual experience

Even fewer spoke about other church youth activities or specific courses on Christianity popular in England like Alpha or Christianity Explored.

Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2018/03/27/the-surprising-reasons-generation-z-become-christians/

LIFECYCLE & Should aging churches be euthanized? #No (what I learned by consulting them)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 12/7/17.

Recently a student commented, “Last week (national name) was advocating that we put a ‘Sun Set Clause’ in all our churches. He said less than 1% of churches in the country are older than 100 years old. There are no churches that trace their heritage as a congregation to the first century church. He says that churches have a life cycle and instead of fighting it we should work with it. He said the most fruit years of most churches ministry is in the first 30 years. He is advocating that all decisions made in the church be based on the idea that we have 30 years of ministry left. He believes that if we did this we would place more emphasis on people and less on buildings. Instead of building monuments that will last for ever we would make disciples and release them to be missionaries. I would be interested in your prospective on this?”

I responded:

Thanks for the question. My view on this comes out of interviews I have conducted over the past 25+ years with hundreds of older members of churches in my consulting practice. I discovered that as people age they need the church more, rather than less. However as they age they have less ability to volunteer as well as less ability to support the church. Therefore, Like Social Security I believe we should provide a spiritual security in our congregations. So rather than closing a congregation down you can revitalize a congregation into a new lifecycle.

I discovered that as people age they need the church more, rather than less. However as they age they have less ability to volunteer as well as less ability to support the church.

Also as older congregants age I believe they have more insecurity in their lives. They have financial insecurity as they live on a fixed income. And they have relational insecurity as their friends move away and/or die. In addition they have health insecurity. Therefore it is been my experience that they look to the church to provide needed security and a worship culture they can relate to. Without an influx of younger generations the church becomes organizationally insecure it only adds to their insecurity.

Here is where I’ve written more about this and answered more questions: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/multiplication-instead-of-planting-an-independent-new-church-what-about-planting-a-new-venue-instead-pros-cons-considered/

Finally, as I said above I came to this viewpoint after interviewing hundreds of aging members. Over and over again these dear hard-working saints worry that their church will not survive. Usually they’ve seen exit behavior occur as the result of change implemented too quickly or without consensus (see Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model,” Administrative Science Quarterly 44 [Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999], 792-822.).

Thus, older congregants fear (rightly so) being left behind and marginalized. And many of these dear saints ran the church and supported it through the years as young families.

But I want to agree with (national name) that we put too much emphasis on facilities. In fact, I wrote a chapter in the book Growth by accident, death by planning: How not to kill a growing congregation (Abingdon Press, 2004) that “Missteps with facilities” was one of the quickest ways to kill a growing congregation. You can find more info on that here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/facilities-the-7-donts-7-dos-of-building-growthbyaccidentbook/

I believe people like (national name) are not as familiar with the needs of aging congregants because they don’t consult aging churches. Most of them have been involved in church plants. In fact that’s how I started out: overseeing a network of church plants and then planting a church myself. And in hindsight I found I had a jaded view. I tended to not understand the needs of aging congregants and rather dismissed them.

And in hindsight I found I had a jaded view. I tended to not understand the needs of aging congregants and rather dismissed them.

After having consulted for so many years and conducted numerous focus groups with aging congregants I have found them to be dear, committed saints who now suffer insecurity in their lives” an insecurity the next-generation can address … if the next gen doesn’t abandon and instead respects the senior saints’ culture.

The result has been that some churches, like Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis has reached out to senior centers. They just don’t go into senior centers and put on a Sunday service. But they actually organize the seniors to lead the services. It gives aging Christians an opportunity to still be involved in worship and leadership. (As a preacher, worship leader and pastor I hope one day that opportunity will be afforded me 🙂

GENERATIONS & McIntosh on theories re. power & characteristics

(From a presentation at the annual meeting of The Great Commission Research Network at Asbury Theological Seminary, Oct. 19, 2017).

Generations can be thought with key words (in italics below)

The senior generation is informing. They are (attempting) to pass their knowledge along to further generations.

The mature generation is prevailing.  This means they are in charge and their behaviors, ideas and products are prevailing in most areas of the culture.

The adult generation is promoting.  They are promoting themselves and their products in order to move up (i.e. be promoted) in influence.

The young generation is learning.  They are watching and accessing knowledge modalities (YouTube, Internet, etc.) to learn more (but may not actually embrace this knowledge).

Speaking hashtags: #CGRN

CHANGE & Harnessing the Differences Between Generations & Their Approaches to Change

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., an address delivered to the Great Commission Research Network (GCRN), Asbury Theological Seminary, Oct. 19, 2017.

“How Changing Generations … Change: Harnessing the Differences Between Generations and Their Approaches to Change.”

Abstract

This article will compare and contrast two leadership change strategies as observed in older generations (influenced by modernity) and younger generations (influenced by postmodernity). It will be suggested that modernist leadership strategies may focus more on command-and-control and vision. It will be further suggested that postmodern leaders may employ a more collaborative and mission-centric approach to change leadership. This latter approach will be shown to have been described in postmodern circles by organic metaphors and four conditions as set forth by organizational theorist Mary Jo Hatch. Subsequently, it will be suggested that the style of leadership embraced should depend upon the cultural context of the generational actors and the environment.

This study must begin with a few delimitations and explanations regarding terminology that will be employed. I present these as juxtaposition propositions.

Boomers vs. Everyone Else (Gen. X, Y & Z)

There are varying ways to designate generational cultures. The most widely accepted labels have been put forth by Philip Bump in his article “Here is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts.”[1] Synthesizing work conducted by the US Census Bureau, the Harvard Center and Strauss and Howe, Bump suggests these designations:

  • Greatest Generation, born before 1945
  • Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964
  • Generation X, born 1965-1984
  • (overlapping: Generation Y, born 1975-2004)
  • Millennials, born 1982-2004
  • TBD, 2003-today[2]

Philip Bump, The Atlantic, titled “Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts” (3/25/14)

To complicate matters, I have suggested the older generations are more influenced by modernity while the younger generations by postmodernity.[3] Though it is hard to designate an arbitrary point at which the majority of a generation crosses the modernal divide, this article will assume these influences. I have made at length a case for this elsewhere.[4]

Modernity vs. Postmodernity

To contrast modernity and postmodernity is beyond the scope and scale of this article. However, the genesis of these two views coupled with a meta-perspective on culture can frame our discussion.

Modernity roughly coincides with the emergence of education as the interpreter of knowledge. Emerging with the Reformation and gaining momentum in the Enlightenment, modernity viewed the mentor-mentee form of education as the arbitrator of civilization. Modernity hoped that through education the world would become a better place. Therefore, while sitting at the feet of experts, neophytes could build a better life for themselves and others.

Somewhere around the beginning of the 20th Century, disenchantment with the modern experiment arose. Modernity hoped that its emphasis upon education and knowledge would usher in a new world of peace. Instead, it had created new powers who tapped their educational resources to create weapons of mass destruction. The carnage of World War I was a verification that modernity had failed, as witnessed through the most educated countries on the earth becoming the most likely to devise new ways to kill people en masse.

The reaction first took hold in the art world, which employed an oxymoron (postmodernity) to describe a world in which humans move beyond the modern experiment (i.e. into post-modernity).[5] While modernity saw education from experts as the redeemer of culture, postmodernity began to prefer experience as its arbitrator of civilization. Modernity dictums such as “Get an education to get ahead” were replaced with postmodern maxims of “Try it, you may like it.” Thus arose in postmodernity an emphasis upon experience as a better teacher than experts.

To highlight this, the terms modern and postmodern will be used to highlight the difference in leadership approaches between younger and older leaders. The reader is cautioned to not apply these descriptors too narrowly or too generally. Rather, the judicious academic should allow these categories to inform his or her analysis of leadership while also taking into account the context and the players.

Organic vs. Organization

Over time, the term organic church has been more palatable in Christian circles than the term postmodern church. For instance, my publisher rejected my use of the term postmodern in the chapter titles of a 2011 book, because of the perceived anti-religious bent of postmodernity. Thus, I chose the term organic because it is helpful when describing the New Testament concept of a church as an organism with its interconnected, inter-reliant parts as seen in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 1, and Colossians 1.

Theologian Emil Bruner also emphasized that though the church is a spiritual organism (requiring pastoring and spiritual growth) it is also an organization (necessitating management and administration ).[6] Therefore, the term organic organization will be employed in this article to emphasize both elements.

I find it interesting that secular postmodern organizational theorists, such as the influential Mary Jo Hatch, have picked up upon the organic metaphor as a designation for healthy organizations.[7] Hatch suggests organic organizations embrace four conditions, which I will utilize in this discussion to frame how change mechanisms respond to them.

Condition 1: Organic, postmodern leadership understands it is dependent on its environment. While a modern leadership approach might try to colonize or impose upon another culture a leader’s preferential culture; according to Hatch an organic approach adapts its leadership practices to the indigenous cultures in which it hopes to bring about change.

Condition 2: Organic, postmodern leadership envisions a dissonant harmony that must be cultivated between the varied parts in the organization.[8] While a modernist strategy might overlook parts of the organization in order to emphasize those organizational aspects with growth potential, the postmodern sees an interconnectedness that requires addressing weaknesses in addition to building upon strengths. (Biblical examples for this view may be inferred from I Corinthians 12:12, 14, 20, 27; Romans 12: 4-5 and Ephesians 4:12 – 13).

Condition 3: Organic organizations adapt continually to their changing environments. The organization learns from its environment, weeds out aspects that can be unhealthy and learns which aspects can be embraced without compromising the mission or vision. To do so without compromising an underling mission, Kraft suggests this requires us to see Christ as “above but working through culture.”[9] Eddie Gibbs elaborates by suggesting that behaviors, ideas and products of a culture must be “sifted.”[10] Using a colander metaphor, Gibbs suggest this is an incarnational approach, “He (Christ) acts redemptively with regard to culture, which includes judgment on some elements, but also affirmation in other areas, and a transformation of the whole.”[11]

Condition 4: Organic uniqueness recognizes that certain species flourish in some environments and die in others. Hence, to Hatch what works in one organization cannot necessarily be franchised into another context. Therefore, Hatch and other postmodern theorists like Zalesnick reject the notions of “irrefutable” and “unassailable” leadership laws or rules that can be applied in a general manner.[12]

With the above understanding of generational depictions, the philosophical forces that inform them, the organization as organism, and the conditions of an organic organization, we can move on to compare two areas where modern and postmodern leadership may differ. This is not to say these are the only or even most powerful areas in which they differ. I have compared and contrasted eight areas in my Abingdon Press release: ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church. More depth on this discussion can be found there. However, for the present article, I will delve into two aspects that were not discussed to this depth in the aforementioned book.

Command-and-control leadership vs. collaborative leadership.

Modern leadership has customarily been associated with command-and-control leadership as depicted in Adam Smith’s seminal book The Wealth of Nations.[13] In this model the role of the leader or manager is to command often unwilling workers to pursue a goal while controlling their actions to attain it. Upon Smith’s ideas Frederick Taylor built Theory X, famously asserting; “The worker must be trimmed to fit the job.”[14]

Postmodern leadership, not surprisingly, reacted against this emphasis on a leadership expert and instead embraced a consensus building and collaborative approach. Harrison Monarch describes the contrast this way:

The archaic command-and-control approach is shelved in favor of a culture in which managers admit they don’t have all the answers and will implement and support team decisions. This means mangers become the architects of that team dynamic rather than the all-seeing purveyors of answers. The result is a culture of trust and employee empowerment that is safe.”[15]

Support for this approach can be found in the research of Bruno Dyck and Frederick A. Starke. Not only organizational theorists who study of the formation of breakaway organizations (e.g. how organizations lose their change proponents), they also participate on the boards of their churches. They have applied their understanding of breakaway organizations to what they’ve witnessed in churches.[16] Dyke and Starke found that pastors who dictate change (or even who align themselves with a subgroup of change components who do so) will usually be pushed out by the status quo unless the leader demonstrates collaborative leadership. They discovered that the successful leader will build consensus for a change, even among the naysayers, before the change is implemented. They also discovered that implementing change too fast and without vetting it with the status quo results in failed change. Thus, change often fails in churches because it was not implemented in a collaborative fashion. Disturbingly, they also discovered an end result is that pastors and those proposing change are forced out of the church because they didn’t attain a unifying outcome.[17]

John Kotter is a Harvard management professor who wrote the seminal article (and the resultant book) on change, titled Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail.[18] He states that the “second step” for bringing about change is to create a “guiding coalition” to generate that change. He found that when one person or one side pushes for change, the other sides will push back with the resultant change creating division rather than progress. Kotter’s solution is to create (as the second step of the eight-step process) a “guiding coalition” of both change proponents and the status quo who will bring change in a collaborative manner.

Best practices for the church: A leader must resist command-and-control tendencies and instead embrace approaches oriented toward collaboration. Best practices include Dyke and Starke’s suggestions that church leaders go to the status quo and listen to their concerns before launching into a change.[19] While field-testing this, I have found that simply giving status quo members a hearing goes a long way to helping them feel their voice and concerns are heard. Dyck and Starke also found that when an inevitable alarm event occurs through which some change begins to polarize the congregation, the collaborative pastor will bring the people together to grasp the common vision and cooperate on a solution.[20] Kotter even pushes the establishment of a guiding coalition to the top (second) of his eight tactical steps.

Motivating by vision vs. motivating by mission

There is some confusion among practitioners regarding the difference between vision and mission. Kent Hunter and I, in an earlier book, sought to compare and contrast various ecclesial definitions of vision and mission and suggest an abridgment.[21]

George Barna[22]  

Elmer L. Towns[23]

 

Whitesel / Hunter[24]
Mission:  

A philosophic statement that under-girds the heart of your ministry.

Your ministry emphasis and your church gifting. “What do we do” (and why do we do it, 2017)
Vision: A clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God, and based on an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances. Same as Barna. “Where do we believe God is calling our church to go in the future?”

 

My experience has been that older generations, influenced by modernity, typically emphasize the vision. By this, I mean they have a clear mental picture of the future and try to muster all of their forces to attain it. This can, and often does, result in a parade of different programs being promoted to the congregation which often – by their sheer frequency – overwhelms and wears out the congregants. Burnout is often the result.

I have noticed that younger generations are more likely to emphasize the mission that undergirds these various visions. This is perhaps because they have witnessed this in their parents’ congregations. According to Barna, a mission is “a philosophic statement that undergirds the heart of your ministry.”[25] This leads postmodern-influenced leaders to emphasize less the different programs that are being implemented and instead to motivate by stressing the mission behind them.

An interview with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s in USA Today yields a useful example.[26] In the article, Nadella criticizes founding CEO Bill Gates for mixing up the difference between a mission and a vision. Nadella states, “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal… When I joined the company in 1992, we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world.”

“…we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world.” – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s in USA Today

Nadella was right because “putting a PC in every home” is not a mission – it is a vision. It is something that can be reached, can be pictured in your mind and is temporally bound. You can see a vision in your mind. You can envision every house having a PC computer. That is why every house today doesn’t have an IBM PC. Instead, many have Apple Macs.

A mission, however, drives the company and its values, therefore shaping its decisions. It is much bigger and grander than a vision.

When Steve Jobs was luring Bill Scully from PepsiCo to become CEO of Apple, Jobs shared a mission, not a vision, saying: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”[27]

A mission is just like that. It is exciting, world-changing … but somewhat imprecise so it could manifest in many different outcomes (i.e. visions). It is also not temporally bound, like “putting a PC in every home.” A mission drives your values and decisions through many different projects.

Apple’s mission reminds me of the trend I see in my youthful seminary students to emphasize mission over vision. They correctly understand that mission can be realized in many different visions. Apple’s mission would be realized in varied visions including: the vision to revolutionize the way music is purchased via iTunes, the vision to miniaturize the computer into a handheld device, etc. The result is that Apple devotees have a passion that IBM followers don’t. Apple has an ongoing mission that continues to be realized in various visions. As a result, the clarity of Apple’s mission, best exemplified in Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl ad, unleashes a passion in its followers.[28]

Best practices for the church: When leading younger leaders, it may be helpful to emphasize the mission while letting many subcategories of vision come and go as opportunity rises and wanes. The younger generations appear to want to be reminded of the mission but allowed to create multiple visions of how it may be carried out. They don’t want to stick to one idea or tactic, but rather one mission. Therefore, the mission becomes more important than a time and measurement constrained vision which often influenced their parents’ church.

Though they may not realize it, Hatch’s four conditions of organic organizations are reflected in the postmodern emphasis upon an unchanging mission in lieu of the temporal- and quantitative-bound nature of vision. For example, “Condition 1: An organic dependency on its environment” is reflected in the postmodern emphasis that church should not be a closed, self-contained system; but rather an organic congregation tied to those it serves inside and outside the organization. Hatch’s “Condition 2: An organic harmony among the parts” is reflected in the postmodern propensity toward dissonant harmony among multiple constituencies. “Condition 3: Organic adaption to the surroundings,” is exhibited as these organic experiments adapt to the culture of their surroundings by changing visions as the environment changes. And finally, “Condition 4: Organic uniqueness from other organizations” is mirrored in their intentions to not franchise what works in other churches but to create indigenous and elastic visions that serve an immutable mission.

The tip of an iceberg

These approaches to change are just the tip of an iceberg of divergences between the leadership modality of the modernist and postmodernist. I’ve compared and contrasted more areas in my Abingdon Press book ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church. The reader may be interested in how I delve into the striking difference regarding how younger generations offset the disadvantages of homogeneity. For a thorough investigation of the distinctions between modern and postmodern leadership, I would encourage the reader to consult this volume.

[1] The Atlantic magazine, March 25, 2014.

[2] Generation Z has been suggested as the descriptor for this generation by the New York Times, see Sabrina Tavernise, “A Younger Generation is Being Born in Which Minorities are the Majority,” New York Times, May 17, 2012.

[3] Bob Whitesel, “Toward a Holistic in Postmodernal Theory of Change: The Four-forces Model of Change as Reflected in Church Growth Movement Literature,” The Journal of the American Society for Church Growth, Fall 2008.

[4] Bob Whitesel, Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007, pp. 53-56.

[5] Eddie Gibbs in Church Next (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 23) explains that though Frederico de Onis created the term “postmodern” in the 1930s it was not until the 1960s that it gained popularity due to its use by art critics.

[6] Emil Bruner, trans. Harold Knight, The Misunderstanding of the Church (London: Lutterworth Press, 1952), pp. 15-18.

[7] Mary Joe Hatch, Organizational Theory: Modern, Symbolic, and Postmodern Perspectives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 53-54.

[8] While Hatch utilizes the term requisite harmony, I have substituted the helpful term dissonant harmony as employed by Bruno Dyck and Frederick A. Starke, The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model. Administrative Science Quarterly (1999), 44:792-822. I have applied the Dyke-Starke model to the church in Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Abingdon Press, 2003).

[9] Charles H. Kraft, Christianity in Culture, (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1979), pp. 113.

[10] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, op. cit., p. 120.

[11] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1981), p. 92.

[12] See for the example the hedgehog versus Fox’s comparison in Abraham Zalesnik’s book, hedgehogs and foxes: character, leadership, and commanding organizations parentheses New York: Palm grave McMillan, 2008). Zalesnik use this is a metaphor of hedgehogs who live by unwavering rules with the more long-lived foxes who adapt to their environment..

[13] Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776; reprint, Chicago: University of Chicago press, 1976), books 1 and 4.

[14] Quoted by Daniel Boorstin, The Americans: The Democratic Experience (New York: Vintage, 1974), pp. 368-369

[15] Harrison Monarth, Executive Presence: The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009), p. 55.

[16] Bruno Dyck and Frederick A. Starke, The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model. Administrative Science Quarterly (1999), 44:792-822.

[17] For more on this seek Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change, And What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) and the chapter titled “Go Slowly, Build Consensus and Succeed” in Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007, pp. 151-169.

[18] Harvard Business Review (Boston: Harvard Business Press, January 2007).

[19] Bruno Dyck and Frederick A. Starke, ibid., 44:812-813.

[20] ibid., 44:813-819.

[21] Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001), p. 107.

[22]George Barna, The Power of Vision: How You Can Capture and Apply God’s Vision for Your Ministry (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1992), pp. 28, 38–39.

[23] Elmer L. Towns, Vision Day: Capturing the Power of Vision, (Lynchburg, Virginia; Church Growth Institute, 1994), pp. 24-25.

[24] Whitesel and Hunter, op. cit., p. 107.

[25] Barna, op. cit., p. 28.

[26] Marco della Cava, “Microsoft’s Satya Nadella is Counting on Culture Shock to Drive Growth,” USA Today, Feb. 20, 2017.

[27]John Sculley and John A. Byrne, Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple: A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future (New York: HarperCollins, 1987), p. 90.

[28] The 1984 Apple commercial is available on YouTube and is best described by MacWorld writer Adelia Cellini in the following: “Apple wanted the Mac to symbolize the idea of empowerment, with the ad showcasing the Mac as a tool for combating conformity and asserting originality. What better way to do that than have a striking blonde athlete take a sledgehammer to the face of that ultimate symbol of conformity, Big Brother?” “The Story Behind Apple’s “1984” TV commercial: Big Brother at 20,” MacWorld, 21 (1), p. 18.

Download the article here… ARTICLE Whitesel 2017 Changing Generations Change GCRJ GCRN 17.10.17

Bio

Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D. holds two doctorates from Fuller Seminary and is the former founding professor of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. A speaker/consultant on church health, organic outreach and multiethnic ministry, he is the award-winning author of 13 books published by national publishers. National magazines have stated: “Bob Whitesel is the change agent” (Ministry Today) and “Bob Whitesel is the key spokesperson on change in the church today” (Outreach Magazine). The faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary awarded him The Donald McGavran Award for outstanding scholarship in church growth and The Great Commission Research Network awarded him The Donald A. McGavran Award for outstanding leadership in church growth.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018 Theological Reflection Seminar #TheoReflect #GCRN

GENERATIONS & The complete guide to Generation Z

by Ryan Jenkins, Inc. Magazine, 7/25/17.

No matter your age, technology is fundamentally re-shaping your behavior and expectations in a way you never thought possible. If technology has changed the way you live and work, imagine how it shaped an entire generation that has used technology as early as one year old.

Total game changer.

The next generation gives us data points into what’s next. Understanding who is Generation Z provides the necessary data to influence how a company must recruit, retain, and lead its employees in the future. (Read this to find out the eight ways Generation Z differs from Millennials.)

Rather than focusing on historical events, the below timeline covers how pivotal innovations and culture shifts have transformed Generation Z’s view of life and work. Generation Z begins in 1998 and the below provides the necessary context around how the oldest Generation Zers have grown up by charting the fictitious life journey of one individual. Let’s call this individual Jennifer Zahn or Jen Z for short–ah, get it?

Who Is Generation Z: A Timeline That Reveals How the 21st Century Shaped Them

1998: Jen Z is born.

Jen Z is raised by tech-savvy Generation X parents and many of her younger Generation Z peers are being raised by the tech-dependent Millennials. In fact, 38 percent of children today who are under two years old have used a mobile device for playing games, watching videos, or other media-related purposes. There was a relatively large technology gap between Millennials and their Baby Boomer parents, but Generation X has shrunk that gap with their Generation Z kids which has only accelerated the tech adoption of Generation Z.

Generation X’s independence, survival mentality, and skepticism towards leaders and institutions that they witness rise and fall during their youth will translate into parenting Generation Z with a focus on do-it-yourself mentality, hard work, and being realistic (especially since 62 percent of Generation Z doesn’t remember a time before the Great Recession).

  • Generation Z Mindset: Generation Z will approach work with a DIY, work hard, and pragmatic mindset.
  • Innovation Influencer: Parents

2006: Jen Z collaborates globally.

At age 8, Jen Z is an avid gamer which shapes her approach to collaboration. With 66 percent of Generation Z listing gaming as their main hobby, the International Olympic Committee is considering adding pro-gaming as an official sport, and Amazons $970 million acquisition of the live streaming video platform where viewers watch playthroughs of video games and other gaming-related events, Twitch, confirm the growth and importance of gaming among Generation Z…

Jen Z doesn’t think twice about turning on her Xbox, putting on a headset, and gaming alongside people around the world in real time as they strive for an epic Halo win. Because gaming isn’t hierarchical, Jen Z grasps the power and ease of virtual collaboration and reaching across borders to create powerful and diverse networks of global talent.

  • Generation Z Mindset: Generation Z gravitates towards gamified processes or procedures and are native to global communication and collaboration across virtual platforms.
  • Innovation Influencer: Xbox

2007: Jen Z becomes untethered.

At age 9, Jen Z is given her first cell phone for the primary purpose of safety and logistics. However, she is soon exposed to the new smartphone that mom and dad own. Today, the average age for a child getting their first smartphone is 10.3 years-old. Smartphones mobilized Generation Z to text, socialize, and game on the go.

Also at this time, YouTube is growing in popularity and thanks to the easy to use Flip Video camera, Jen Z is empowered to create and share videos. Three-quarters of Generation Z watch YouTube at least weekly. YouTube becomes a go-to resource for entertainment, information, and how-tos.

  • Generation Z Mindset: Generation Z is a video and mobile-centric generation where their mobile devices serve as the remote control of their lives.
  • Innovation Influencer: Smartphone and YouTube

2008: Jen Z extends her digital communication.

At age 10, Jen Z doesn’t meet the age requirements of Facebook but that doesn’t stop her from lying about her age in order to create an account and begin communicating with friends. While Millennials helped push social media into the mainstream, Generation Z can’t remember a world where social media didn’t exist. Today, 39 percent of kids get a social media account at 11.4 years-old.

Millennials were digital pioneers, but Generation Z is the true digital natives. They have not had to adapt to technology because the only world they know is a hyper-connected one where 2 out of 7 people on the planet use Facebook.

  • Generation Z Mindset: Generation Z is quick to adopt new communication channels and prefers real-time, transparent, and collaborative digital communications.
  • Innovation Influencer: Facebook

2009: Jen Z benefits from content curation.

At age 11, Jen Z enters middle school with a smart device and the world’s information curated into blank search boxes. Jen Z and her peers have become adept researchers and very resourceful due to their early Internet access. In fact, 43% of Generation Zteens prefer a digital approach to learning and find it easiest to learn from the Internet.

Generation Z treats the Internet as their external brain and therefore approach problems in a whole new way, unlike any generation before them. They do not consider parents or teachers as the authority but rather the Internet as the authority.

  • Generation Z Mindset: Generation Z wants teachers and managers to not be the sole source of their learning but rather supplement their learning — coaching them through their questions, mistakes, and successes.
  • Innovation Influencer: Search Engines

2010: Jen Z lives an interconnected life…

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/ryan-jenkins/complete-guide-to-who-is-generation-z.html

SENIOR WORKERS & work activities will become increasingly “age agnostic” & age stereotypes will look increasingly outdated

“Our Assumptions About Old and Young Workers Are Wrong”

by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Harvard Business Review, 11/14/16.

… To understand how people are responding to this transformation in their working lives, we developed a survey completed by more than 10,000 people from across the world aged 24 to 80.

We found far fewer differences between the age groups than we might have imagined. In fact, many of the traits and desires commonly attributed to younger people are shared by the whole workforce. Why might this be the case?

…For our recent book The 100 Year Life we calculated how long people will work. Whilst we cannot be precise, it is clear that in order to finance retirement many people currently in their fifties will work into their seventies; whilst those in their twenties could well be working into their eighties. That means that inevitably people of very different ages are increasingly working together.

This long working life, coupled with profound technological changes, dismantles the traditional three-stage life of full-time education, full-time work, and full-time retirement. In its place is coming – for all employees regardless of their age – a multi-stage life that blends education, exploration, and learning, as well as corporate jobs, freelance gigs, and time spent out of the workforce. Inevitably the variety of these stages and their possible sequencing will result in both greater variety within age cohorts, whilst also providing opportunities for different ages to engage in similar activities. In other words, work activities will become increasingly “age agnostic” and these age stereotypes will look increasingly outdated.

…The people in our study overturned these stereotypes:

  • It is not just the young who are investing in new skills…Certainly a higher proportion of those aged 18-30 (91%) and 31-45 (72%) felt they were investing in new skills but after the age of 45 almost 60% of all ages said they were actively investing…
  • It is not just the young who are positive and excited by their workWhat was striking was that whatever their age, those feeling positive about their work was a constant at just over 50%. Just as striking is the proportion of people of all ages who don’t feel positive about their work…
  • Older people are working harder to keep fit. We know that vitality is central to a long productive life and it is easy to imagine that it’s only the young who really care about their fitness. Yet we discovered that it is the older who are working hardest to try to keep fit. About half of those under 45 actively try to keep fit, rising continuously across the ages with a peak of 71% for those aged over 70.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/11/our-assumptions-about-old-and-young-workers-are-wrong

GENERATION Z & What Churches Need to Know About Generation Z

by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, 8/9/16.

While many churches remain concerned about attracting millennials, a new generation of adults is emerging with their own identity.

Generation Z, also known as iGen, are more than 25 percent of America’s population. The oldest members of this generation turn 18 this year. Just who are they and what does the church need to know about them?

New research reported by The Washington Post reveals a complicated picture of the generation born since 1998.

1. First true digital native generation

… Since they were born, Generation Z has grown up connected to the web and social media. They are the first generation to have their parents post baby pictures and dance recitals on Facebook. Today Gen Zers are documenting their lives on Instagram and Snapchat.

…But this increased exposure has brought unintended consequences. More than 4 in 10 members of Generation Z (42 percent) say social media impacts their self-esteem.

Churches should focus on helping tweens and teens find their identity and self-worth in Christ, not in the online opinion of others.

2. Love to communicate, but not always with words

… Instead of reading texts or blogs, they would rather interact with video and other visual forms. And they would rather do it online than with a television. Among 13- to 24-year-olds, 96 percent watched online video content over the past week at an average of 11 hours a week. By contrast, 81 percent of the same group watched scheduled TV for an average of 8 hours weekly.

You can also see Generation Z’s preference for visual interaction with their top three social media platforms, according to the research in The Washington Post. More than half like Vine (54 percent) and Instagram (52 percent), while a third enjoy Twitter (34 percent). The first two are video and photo sharing sites and Twitter increasingly incorporates images and videos.

…Learn how to use video content, like the new Instagram Stories. Here are five ways churches can use that feature.

3. Most racially diverse generation

…Among Americans under 18, whites comprise just over half (52 percent), according to Census analysis by Brookings. As you examine younger segments of Generation Z, the diversity only grows. Looking at the Census data, Pew Research found whites are a minority among children under 5.

Fourteen states already have “majority minority” populations under 18. And in half the states, Generation Z is more than 40 percent minority.

The need for churches to become multicultural is only going to increase as Generation Z enters adulthood. Being surrounded by people from different ethnicities and cultures is becoming the norm for this generation.

[Read more about multicultural churches in Facts & Trendsissue “United by the Gospel.”]

4. Only beginning their cultural influence

… Early research indicates this new generation is less idealistic and more thrifty than millennials. As they take on more societal influence, their traits—for better or worse—will hold more sway over culture.

If trends continue, fewer members of Generation Z will see religion as important, according to Pew Research.

Evangelical churches will need to find ways to retain children who grow up attending their churches and reach the growing number of the emerging adults who come from unchurched families. After researching college students, a study found eight steps churches can take now to reach (and keep) young adults.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/08/09/what-churches-need-to-know-about-generation-z/#.V6oSnlT3aJI

GENERATIONS & Why Do Need to Label Generations? Some Thoughts from Missiology

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/17/15.

Once a student asked me if we should refer strictly to “different preferences” or “styles” of worship, rather than “generational preferences” for worship.  His rationale was that he enjoyed Gen. X worship, but he was a Boomer.  Designating it Gen. X-style worship made him feel it was too generationally specific.  Instead he said, “Why can’t we just say we offer differing styles?”

This is a good point.  But, it may be counterproductive for researchers and academics to avoid generational designations (though I would encourage you to publicly speak of styles – e.g. traditional, classic, modern, postmodern, emerging, organic, etc. when publicizing these various styles).  However, for our research discussions the generational designations are important for clarity, specificity and generative explanations.  Let me elaborate on this.

We Use Labels Carefully, To Describe Cultures

Generational predilections and their resultant designations provide a rubric for understanding cultures.  It is about cultures, but these cultures are largely generationally driven (due to common experiences – see Gary McIntosh’s exploration of this in “Four Generations” or Margaret Mead’s “Culture and Commitment”).  Thus generational descriptors are important sociological and anthropological designations that are not exclusive, but valuable for communication.  If we follow the logic of rejecting generational descriptors and instead referring to a strategy of “offering as many styles as possible,” we then loose the emphasis upon the genesis of those styles – shared temporal experiences (the Depression, Vietnam War, Gulf War, computers, Internet age, etc. etc.).

Thus, I want to advocate that as researchers and strategists we keep the generational designations when working with leaders, for it reminds us the genesis is cultural.  And, it also reminds us that though we may relate to these cultures (as I think I do with Millennials), we who are of a different age (I am a Boomer) are never truly part of it because we have not experienced the same temporal experiences.  Note how in my “Inside the Organic Church” book I was unintentionally but constantly reminded that I was an outsider by these Gen. X congregations.

Etic or Emic? Why It is Important to Understand the Difference.

There actually is a name for this tension in missiology.  If you are truly part of a culture you have an emic relationship with it.  And if you are an outsider to a culture (such as a missionary), you may study it, analyze it, adopt it and even enjoy it … but you are never truly native to it, and thus you have an etic relationship with it.  Thus, I have an etic relationship with Gen. X, even though I love their organic emphasis even more than my native Boomer church culture.

GENERATIONS & The emerging agreement on age ranges w/ a description of each

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/14/15.

The New York Times ran an article about Millennials after which other media pointed out that the age-range they used wasn’t actually the range for Millennials. If the venerable NYTimes can’t get it right, then agreeing on what to call each generational culture will be challenging.  Here are some thoughts followed by the emerging agreement.

Generational cultures:(1)

This is how simplified it in Preparing the Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), p 53.

  • Builder (1) or the Silent (2) or Greatest (3) Generation, b. 1945 and before
  • Boomer Generation, b. 1946-1964
  • Leading-edge Generation X, b. 1965-1974
  • Post-modern Generation X, b. 1975-1983
  • Generation Y, b. 1984-2002

See these postings for more: CULTURES & A List of Cultures  and CULTURES & A Cumulative List of Cultures from My Books

Though there is disagreement, there is an emerging consensus.

Philip Bump in his article for The Atlantic, titled “Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts” (3/25/14) conducted excellent research and generated the following chart:

(chart retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/)

This is how Philip Bump explained each:

We identified six different generations, and labeled their eras.

Greatest Generation. These are the people that fought and died in World War II for our freedom, which we appreciate. But it’s a little over-the-top as far as names go, isn’t it? Tom Brokaw made the name up and of course everyone loved it. What, you’re going to argue with your grandfather that he isn’t in the greatest generation? The generation ended when the war ended.

Baby Boomers. This is the agreed-upon generation that falls within DiPrete’s punctuated timeframe. It began when the Greatest Generation got home and started having sex with everyone; it ended when having sex with everyone was made easier with The Pill.

Generation X. George Masnick, of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies puts this generation in the timeframe of 1965 to 1984, in part because it’s a neat 20-year period. He also calls it the “baby bust,” mocking “[p]undits on Madison Avenue and in the media” that call it Generation X. Ha ha, tough luck.

Generation Y. Masnick addresses this group, too, putting it “anywhere from the mid-1970s when the oldest were born to the mid-2000s when the youngest were.” But mostly Generation Y is a made-up generation when it became obvious that young kids didn’t really fit with the cool Generation X aesthetic but not enough of them had been born to make a new generation designation. NOTE: Generation Y is a fake, made-up thing. Do not worry about it.

Millennials. In October 2004, researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss called Millennials “the next great generation,” which is funny. They define the group as “as those born in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter.” In 2012, they affixed the end point as 2004.

TBD. But that means that kids born in the last 10 years lack a designation. They are not Millennials. Earlier this month, Pew Research asked people what the group should be called and offered some terrible ideas. In other words, this is the new Generation Y. We’ll figure out what they’re called in the future.

Time Magazine Gets In the Discusion

(http://time.com/247/millennials-the-me-me-me-generation/)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  In this discussion a student passed along this scan from Time Magazine (Joel Stein, 5/20/13) from a few years ago that completely leaves out Generation Y, assimilating them into the Millennial Generation.  Though not as scholarly of a work, it is insightful.

Generations TIME

Endnotes:

1. Gary McIntosh, One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All Ages in Your Church [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2002] and Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000).

2. This generation has been labeled various ways, for instance as the “silent generation” by William Strauss and Neil Howe in Generations: The History of American’s Future, 1954-2069 (New York: Quill, 1992).

3. They are labeled the “greatest generation” by Tom Brokaw in The Greatest Generation (New York: Random House, 2004).

GENERATIONS & Grandparents Transfer Values Down to Grandkids Better Than Parents #MargaretMead

Margaret Mead discovered that grandparents better transfer values down to the grandchildren than parents do. Margaret Mead, Culture and Commitment: A Study of the Generation Gap (Garden City, NY,: Doubleday, 1070), p. 2. Here is how she elaborated on this concept on p. 4:

QUOTE Margaret Mead on Grandparents & Grandchildren

Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=sLa2AAAAIAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=grandchildren

GENERATIONS & How I Learned to Staff w/ Generational Pastors

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/6/15.

I thought I would share about the goals, purposes and strategic intent of generational pastors. Let me explain this concept in more detail, as well as the genesis of these understandings, and where I think they are headed.

My genesis of this understanding began over 30 years ago. While consulting for churches I often found that successful ministries had consistency and longevity in pastoral leadership, and this dynamic was also present in their healthy sub-congregations. Successful churches would often have senior pastors, youth pastors, and visitation pastors that in effect functioned as generational pastors, and had been together for years. In many of these circumstances, the visitation pastor had been a former pastor, and eventually the youth pastor had become the senior pastor. The pastors were in effect moving along with the generations, but without a strategic intent to do so.

Plus, I noted that in many successful churches generational pastors where in effect in place, even though they weren’t recognized as such. For instance, Lake Ave. Congregational Church in Pasadena California had in the late 1970s pastors that shepherded the builders, boomers, college-career, and youth. They had been with the church for a number of years. The same was true at Lloyd Ogilve’s church: Hollywood Presbyterian. These were some of the first instances that got me thinking about why this model emerged and what were it strengths. Then I saw the same in Minneapolis at Grace Church, and Colonial Church of Edina. I also witnessed this dynamic in First Baptist in Birmingham, as well as Mt. Paran Church of God in Atlanta Georgia.

Subsequently I started analyzing this model, for these churches had long-term growth rather than the typical peaks and valleys of most congregations. The consistency and relevancy (plus respect) developed in these congregations between multiple-generations was one of their key competencies, and one reason for their growing favor in the community (Acts. 2:42ff).

As a result I began applying this to churches in the midsize range. Because church culture is bias against long-pastorates (at least in evangelical congregations) these churches are swimming upstream with denominational hierarchy, but still having very positive growth as a result.

The keys I have noticed to making this process work are the following:

1) The generational pastor must sign-on for the long term. A term of at least 6 years is required. If only five years, you have one year of learning, the last year you are becoming disengaged, and thus out of a five year process only 3 years are effective. This results in a 3/5 effectiveness ratio or 60% effectiveness, which is not enough to ensure success. Remember, we are battling a long history of the pastor functioning as a simple organization with a sole-proprietor.

2) The generational pastor must be given true authority and oversight of their generational sub-congregation. To only pay lip-service to such authority will seem hypocritical to the generational pastor. Thus, since the sub-congregation’s organizational behavior is that of a separate congregation, some separateness is warranted. This means allowing the generational pastor to have a degree of authority and autonomy, providing an arena in which to fulfill the church’s overall goals in a unique and indigenous way.

3) Finally, leadership thus exists more on a collegiate (or fraternal) status (i.e. among peers), than in the more typical paternal relationship. In other words, the senior pastor looks at the generational pastors as equals, but where each has a cultural mission and understanding. However, the senior shepherd recognizes that his or her position is to bring about unity among the whole, while retaining the individual contributions and synergies of the generational parts. That is why I recommend readings by executive-level management writers such as Belasco and Stayer, Collins, Welch, etc. The purpose of an executive leader is to foster unity out of divergent cultures, while preserving indigenous mission. He or she is a team builder among leaders of divergent cultures.

I hope this gets you thinking about the potency of the Multi-gen. model. It is a remarkable model, that is not atypical … only under diagnosed.

GENERATIONS & The Benefits of Hiring Culturally-specific Pastors

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/15/15.

Below are my thoughts to a good question posited by a student who said, “I have a few questions about the generational pastors. I see where that would seem to work in certain size congregations, but what about in a church with 4000 people?  What about in a church with 10000+ people?  Our church has 10 pastors:

  1. Executive Pastor
  2. Lead Pastor
  3. Worship Pastor
  4. Spiritual Formation Pastor
  5. Student Ministries Pastor
  6. High School Pastor
  7. Global Outreach Pastor
  8. Local Outreach Pastor
  9. Small Group Pastor
  10. Pastor of Care/Counseling”

Hello (Name of Student);

Thanks for sharing.  I have helped churches like yours move to a more healthy (and organic) style with multiple pastors, each for a different culture.  Let me explain.

Basically, you have a team of 10 pastors cutting (horizontally) across several cultures.  Thus, some pastors will have more work, and some less.

But, you also have “cultural” pastors in your High School and Student Ministries pastor.  I would suggest you create more “cultural” pastors (Hispanic Pastor, African-American Pastor, Senior Adult Pastor, Emerging Generations Pastor, etc.) and call them what ever you want.  Then you will have leaders for different cultures.  And, your emerging cultures (e.g. Hispanic, Emerging Gen., etc.) won’t feel like one culture controls the church.  Instead, a “council of ‘cultural’ pastors” will lead the church.

This also demotes departmental pastors to directors (like worship pastor to worship director, and small groups pastor to small group director).  The power thus resides in “cultural” pastors working in tandem, rather than in “departmental” pastors often competing against one another for scarce organizational funds.

A church can grow to any size this way.

In the book, Inside the Organic Church you will find the example of St. Tom’s church in Sheffield UK and their 9 “cultural” pastors for 9 different “cultural celebrations.”

POSTMODERNITY & An Exercise to Discover Which Generation Falls in the Middle

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 5/9/15.

I have noticed a subtle, but marked difference between older Generation Xers and younger Xers.  And, the rise of postmodernity may give us a clue regarding why this happens.

In Preparing for Change Reaction, I divided Generation X into two sub-groups based upon how they fall along the dividing line between Modernity and Postmodernity.  My conclusion is that modernity exalts knowledge, while postmodernity lauds experience.

A Leadership Exercise.

Now, here is the query for this exercise.  List some characteristics that distinguish older Xers (whom I call Leading-edge Xers) and their younger Postmodernal counterparts (whom I call Postmodern Xers)?  Have each leader list 2 – 3 differences that they have observed between these age groupings (see the bulleted points below for the age ranges).

  • Leading Edge Gen. X (ages in 2017 = 43-52),
  • And Postmodern Xers, (ages in 2017 = 35-42).

Though we can divide the generations into smaller and smaller groupings, oftentimes this just makes our missional task more arduous.  But, when a generation, such as Generation X, lands smack in the middle between Modernism and Postmodernism, some important further delineations are needed.  Thus, describing some of the differences in behavior, language, aesthetics, etc. that we have observed between these following age groupings can enhance our leadership of them.

GENERATIONS & The Power of Grandparents to Pass Down Values #NationalPublicRadio

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/22/15.

The following is an experience I had while listening to National Public Radio (NPR).  Prior to having satellite radio, I would listen to the national news on NPR during my long trips.  One day they were interviewing a sociologist that had written a book about anthropologist’s Margaret Mead’s discovery that grandparents most efficaciously transfer values down to grandchildren, and do so better than parents (A House Divided, 2001, p. 51).

The interviewer wondered if there was an institution in our communities that could foster this inter-generational communication.  The author replied that he knew of no such local organization, and the interviewer suggested that perhaps the government could sponsor inter-generational Senior-Child Centers and these could be set up across America.

It totally flabbergasted me that they did not see the Church as a conduit (as I believe God intended) for inter-generational values transmission.

I was busy dialing and redialing, trying to call in and tell them the answer was “the Church, the Church!” when the segment ended.

I sat there alongside of the road in my car thinking that we must do a better job of promoting that our churches are the God-intended environments for intergenerational dialogue and communication.

So, I challenge my students and my clients to spread the news that the best place for inter-ministry dialogue is the conduit God intended:  His called-out ones 🙂

Here are some online articles (from National Public Radio and Autism Speaks) that exemplify how grandparents are making a difference in the lives of their grandchildren.  http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/community-connections/grandparents-can-make-difference and http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128489672

CULTURE & Do People Get Stuck in a Cultural Time-warp at New Birth? #LeadershipExercise

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/21/15.

I’ve observed at many Boomer and even Xer churches that the congregants often prefer slightly modernized versions of the choruses and worship songs that were popular in the period in which they were saved.  And recently, I’ve seen the same things in my Millennial clients.

So, that got me thinking if people linked in their minds a “powerful worship experience” with the styles of music and worship that were utilized when they were saved.

We all know that the generation gap creates a communication gap, and so people often retreat into the familiar.  Then we look across the “gaps” and because of the chasm we often don’t quite understand those on the other edge.  But, to help facilitate growth and health we have to try to understand other cultures by looking at things from their perspective.

For example, I know many of you realize that many of older generations like to dress up on Sunday, and this may be because they remember how much of an honor it was to leave their factory workweek and dress up for Sunday.  It showed honor and respect to their King.

Today many Boomer/Xer professionals dress up all week, and thus like to be causal on weekends (I do).  Therefore, they point out that clothes don’t matter.  And they are right, they don’t … to them.  But to others who remember a long history of honoring God in this fashion (pun intended), clothes show honor to God.

I have a theory I would love some DMin or PhD student of mind to address in a dissertation.  And that is:

“Do people have a tendency to get stuck in a time-warp during the era when we were saved.”

Now, here is the leadership exercise:

  • Ask yourself, have you seen this?
  • Have you ever seen people so impacted at a time when everything just seemed rosy that they are always trying to approximate and recreate that era?

I think we all have this predilection, and thus need to be encouraged to move forward with Jesus and understand emerging cultures.  Remaining in the past makes us ineffective, and the Adversary knows it.


Below are some of the interesting (and humorous) stories from students in reply.


John C., 10/22/2015
Good question Dr. Whitesel. The answer I believe is yes. Let me elaborate. I think that when a person gets saved they remember the feelings and the experience they had and much of it might relate to the music that was used even the setting they were in. I have a friend who is now around 80. For Ernie his conversion experience happened as a young man in a Salvation Army in the South. Soon after he was enrolled as a soldier and put on this uniform. A few years after this Ernie went to The Salvation Army training college and two years later became an officer. During this time brass bands were very popular in the Army. Ernie loved to play his cornet and as a young man even played in a number of big bands in the South. For Ernie music was very important and much of his ministry revolved around music. Fast forward 50 years and Ernie is now coming to our new church plant in Coeur d’Alene as a retired minister. We decided to use a worship band to start this church with a blended music approach. The church quickly grew to 300 but Ernie was constantly on me about the music. I encouraged Ernie to start a Hymn Sing in the evenings and so he did. It also became very popular with the seniors in our community and many came from other churches for this once a month service. The common theme that I heard from all of these seniors was how much they missed singing Hymns. They would all reflect back to their younger years and how great the church was back then. So my theory is music, as well as the order of service play a huge role for many believers as they reflect back to that moment in time when they experienced conversion. I think what is missing is that church becomes an experience that some try to live over and over hoping to have that same feeling that they did when they got saved.