Leading Millennials in Ministry

January 3, 2017 — Leave a comment

Every college student you’re trying to reach is a millennial. More than likely, your team of college ministers is made up of millennials (millennials were born between 1982 and 2004)

This is brilliant stuff from Simon Sinek on leading millennials. He’s talking about leading them in the workplace. But it applies just as well to leading and reaching millennials on the college campus. Well worth 15 minutes of your time (I typed up some notes below):


Simon describes four things Millennials are up against:

  • Parenting – too many of them grow up under failed parenting strategies. They were told they can achieve anything they want in life if they just believe in themselves. That they were special. You take this group and they get a job and they are thrust into the real world where they learn that they are not special and that there mom can’t complain to their boss to save them.
  • Technology – We have an entire generation that has access to an addictive numbing chemical called dopamine through social media and cell phones as they’re going through the high stress of adolescence. We’re supposed to learn to rely on our friends during adolescence but through unfettered access to technology too many kids don’t know how to form deep, meaningful relationships. Millennials don’t have deep, meaningful relationship because they’ve never practiced the skill set. And worse, they’ve never developed coping mechanisms to deal with stress. So when significant stress shows up in their lives they are not turning to a person they’re turning to a device. If you’re sitting at dinner with your friends and you’re texting somebody who’s not there, that’s a problem, that’s an addiction.
  • Impatience – they’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification (Amazon next day, Netflix, etc). You wanna go on a date? You don’t have to practice that skill, you just swipe right. Everything you want you can have instantly. EXCEPT, job satisfaction and strength of relationships. There ain’t no app for that. Those are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes. So I keep meeting these wonderful, fantastic, idealistic, hard-working smart kids. They just graduated school and they’re in their entry-level job. I sit down with them and I go “how’s it going”. And they go “I think I’m gonna quit. I’m not making an impact.” I’m like, “You’ve been here eight months!” It’s as if they’re standing at the foot of a mountain and they have this abstract concept called impact they want to have in the world which is the summit but what they don’t see is the mountain. What this young generation needs to learn is patience- that some things that really, really matter like love, job fulfillment, joy, or self-confidence. All of these things take time. The overall journey is long and difficult.
  • Environment – we’re taking this amazing group of young kids who have been dealt a bad hand. And they’re getting put in companies that care more about short term gains than life long skill-development and a lifetime of impact. That aren’t helping them overcome the challenges of a digital world and helping them overcome the need to have instant gratification and teach them the joys and impact and the fulfillment you get from working hard over on something for a long time that cannot be done in a month or even in a year. It’s the company’s responsibility to work extra hard to build their confidence and social skills. There should be no cell phones in conference rooms. When we are waiting for a meeting to start, no cell phones. Looking at your cell phone up until the meeting starts- that’s not how relationships are formed. Trust is built in those conversations before the meeting starts.

Some quick thoughts:

  • One of college students’ primary needs is deep, meaningful relationships. What if we promo Summer Missions or Small Groups with: “want more deep, meaningful relationships but don’t know exactly how to accomplish that…” We have what students deeply long for- gospel-centered community.
  • We need to coach our students in how to build relationships and trust. One easy step – resolve to put your phone away when you are on campus. Look for people to talk to on the way to campus. Strike up conversations once you get to class. That’s how trust and relationships are built.
  • We should be teaching students a Biblical approach to technology
  • With our interns and new staff, we need to keep the long term vision in front of them – keep reminding them that world change doesn’t happen in a year or two – but over decades.

HT to Dan Allan for passing this video on to me!


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