These are the notes Superintendent Larry Moore used during the
2018 Sectional Council tour
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Identify to Unify
Right now, there are five functioning generations in the marketplace and four generations in most of our churches.
The acceleration in the speed of information has resulted in generations developing more quickly and younger generations contributing significantly at earlier ages; the generation spans are reduced.
We need to identify the unique characteristics of each generation to promote communication and cooperation between these generations. We must avoid Satan’s age-old strategy of “divide and conquer.”
The following statements are generalizations about each generation. Generalization seems to always have exceptions and in no way can describe, predict, or explain the differences between any one group or individual or subgroup.
- The Traditionalists – also known as the Builders, GI Generation, Greatest Generation, Radio Generation, etc. The “Keep Calm and Carry On” Generation. They are 72 years of age and up. At 38.6 million, they make up about 12.7% of our present population. Their defining events:
- The Great Depression – forced to face the shift from the “Roaring Twenties to the Great Depression” this generation learned to “make do with what was available”, “waste not, want not”, and “make do and mend” – these were all common slogans. Obviously, they were forced to become very conservative.
- WWII - The Traditionalists learned to sacrifice their individuality for the common good during WWII. They witnessed the power and benefit of large governmental programs, larger than life leaders, the accomplishments of a unified nation where everyone did their duty. They trusted their leaders and did not question authority. They were told, “You are to be seen, and not heard”. They were considered adults at age 18.
Mostly agrarian, a good “work ethic” came almost naturally, and this was where the relationship between work and reward was easily understood (if you don’t work, you don’t eat). Life on the farm made it harder to commit crime, abuse drugs, become an unwed mother, and survive a divorce.
Regarding communication, they were the “print and radio” generation. They prefer “face to face” communication. They regarded questioning orders from leaders as insubordination.
Regarding dress, they were taught that wearing uniforms, suits, and dresses, was a way to show respect for themselves and authority.
They were raised to focus on obedience, not praise, and that a job begun must be finished.
They came home from WWII expecting to lead as they were led. They were willing to sacrifice individuality for the common good.
- The Baby Boomers – The “do your own thing” generation. They are ages 52-72, 79.8 million strong and comprise 26.2% of our current population. Their teen years were the 60s and 70s. Their defining events were:
- The “Baby Boom” itself – hospitals, schools, colleges, sports teams, job market – everything was “over-crowded”. Small wonder they became very “competitive”.
- Affluence – They grew up in an expanding economy. (Baby food sales jumped from 2.7 million cases in 1941 to 15 million cases in 1947). They were our first generation to be raised in an era that emphasized that people (individuals) are special. The focus changed from “sacrifice” to “self”, thus they became the “Great Expectations” generation.
- Television – They were the first generation who could, as a nation, watch in real time:
The John and Robert Kennedy and MLK, Jr. assassinations.
The Civil Rights movement
The Vietnam War
The Watergate scandal
Nuclear warhead testing
Evidence of the “Generation Gap”
This generation communicated with typed memos, formal writing, television, and phones.
This generation began with “Great Expectations”. However, the extreme competition forced on them because of the sheer size of their group made them much more competitive and focused on the individual for success in their lives and careers. They became the “Me” generation and rebelled against anything that threatened to curb their freedom to “express themselves”.
Lies by leaders regarding Vietnam and Watergate made them distrust leaders and authority.
- The Generation X – also known as the “Baby Bust” or “Buster” generation. They are the “Get Real” generation. They are ages 37-52, 60 million strong, and comprise 19.8% of our current population. Teen years were the 1980s and 1990s. Their defining events were:
- “Baby Bust” – Numerically, Gen Xers are 25% smaller than the Boomers that preceded them, and the Millennials that followed them. Thus, they are not only “smaller” in size but “squished” in between.
- A shrinking economy and double-digit inflation – The Boomers moved up twice as fast as Xers in their early years in an expanding economy. The main way Xers moved up was by changing organizations.
- Steep rise in the divorce rate - From 1960 – 1982 the divorce rate nearly tripled. This generation of latchkey kids who were largely left for television to raise, turned to friends. Friends became family.
- Upward mobility - A college degree didn’t automatically secure a job. Lifetime employment and job security were history. Pessimism and skepticism replaced optimism. They became the generation who didn’t talk to strangers, join organizations, or trust leaders. They because obsessively self-reliant.
- They grew up in a “global” world of email and cell phones. The “savviest” person on the subject became their leader in that area. They believe that performance and productivity should provide advancement, not politics or dress codes.
- The Millennials – Also known as Generation Y, NetGen, Echo Boomers, etc. They are 83.6 million strong and make up 27.5% of our current population – our largest ever. They are age 18-36. They are not considered adults until the age of 25. Teen years are the 2000s – 2010s. Their defining events:
- Terrorism –
- Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing
- Columbine High School shooting
- Y2K scare
- September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack
- Department of Homeland Security was created
Millennials have grown up with metal detectors, airport searches and scans, bomb-sniffing dogs, and armed SWAT teams in public places. Thus, they do not want to wait until tomorrow to have a place at the table or do something important, because tomorrow for them may never arrive.
- Heavy parental involvement – Millennials were the wanted generation. Some of their parents were referred to as “helicopter parents” because of how they hovered over their children.
- 90% of Millennials told Gallup that they have a good relationship with their parents.
- 77% seek their parents’ advice regularly
- 94% said they have great respect for the older generations.
- 75% would like a mentor to come along beside them and teach them.
- Millennials are confident – They are aware that they know more about the tools of the future than any of the three previous generations. Therefore they do not want to wait for a place at the table. 96% believe they can do something great. 99% believe they can make the World a better place to live. 75% desire to serve others in society.
- Religion/Spirituality of Millennials - There is no typical belief system among Millennials. They are all over the map.
70% believe that American churches are irrelevant
75% call themselves spiritual but not religious
65% say they have no interest in religion
Of the 24% of Millennials who are active in church (attend once a week), 15% are true seekers and 6% are Evangelical Christians. That 6% are some of the most intensely committed Christians ever.
Millennials Vs Boomers, Listen, Learn, and Succeed Together, by Eric Harvey and Silvana Clark, copyright 2016, published by Sourcebooks, Inc.
Sticking Points – How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart, by Haydn Shaw, copyright 2013, published by Tyndale Momentum
The Millennials, Connecting to America’s Largest Generation, by Thom S. Rainer and Jess W. Rainer, copyright 2011, published by B & H Publishing Group
Leading Generations at Work, How to Avoid the Coming Crisis in American Business Leadership, by Brian Johnson, text copyright 2014 (currently available only in digital version such as audiobook and Kindle)