What are some spiritual charcteristics of each generation and how can we serve each one well?
Tricia Lambert and Jeff Hurtak describe some spiritual characteristics of generations, from Boomers through Gen Alpha and then discuss: how might we all better invest in and care for people of generations other than our own?
Jeff Hurtak [00:00:00]: Gen Z's just, they are what we call the king of the side hustle. They want to find ten different ways to do what they need to do. Gen X is a little difficult because they're between two very strong generations, and so they're a little quieter. They say millennials’ main motivation’s safety, trying to just be okay.
Tricia Lambert [00:00:26]: Alpha have never … they don't know a world without Internet, without a smartphone.
Todd Randall [00:00:32]: Welcome back to Entrust Equipping Leaders. Today Jeff Hurtak and Tricia Lambert rejoin your host, Laurie Lind, in a conversation about generations: Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z, millennials, Gen Alpha. The list goes on and on. In fact, if you missed our previous episode, you may want to go back and check that one out first. Today, the conversation turns to each generation's spiritual characteristics and how Christians can be sensitive to and ready to serve upcoming generations.
Laurie Lind [00:01:08]: Well, then … we talk about the Christian world and the local church. What do you see as maybe sort of trends or characteristics just in terms of faith? First of all, in, say, millennials gen X. Gen Z. What are some trends that you two are aware of?
Tricia Lambert [00:01:27]: So Jeff can correct me after I throw out here what I think millennials are. So millennials were often ... there was still a high percentage that went to church. They grew up in the church because they were being raised by boomer parents, and that was a value. It was just sort of a cultural expectation, cultural value that they had. So now what? You see, millennials, the very common thing is they're deconstructing their faith to figure out what they really believe and what is just things that they used to do, because that was what their family did. So they're on a quest to discover, I think, right now, what they really believe and what role religion does play in their life, and who is this God that they hear about? There's no cultural support for millennials and their faith. So it's very much of an individual pursuit, and you see that as they pursue that, they come out all different places because it's an individual. So, Jeff, what would you add or take away from what I just said?
Jeff Hurtak [00:02:32]: Yeah, for sure. I mean, at the end of the day, millennials hate the word deconstruction, but it's true, right? A millennial will never agree. I'm not deconstructing. I'm just figuring it out. Right. And Gen Z is actually going to be even more against the word deconstruction. But really, with millennials, yeah, we see. Raised by boomers, a lot of the younger age were raised by Gen Xers at that tip. The 65 through 67 people who were born during that time, the early Xers, and they were all helicopter parents. Gen X were latchkey kids, and they got into a lot of trouble. So when they start raising their children, they're doing the opposite. No more latch keys. Parents are always home with their children. That's why we have longer after school, care, all those types of things with that. I think what we found in millennials was a deep hatred for moralism in the early time of church, right? A lot of us were moralist. We thought that's what earned us our salvation. And then when we become adults, we start doing the opposite. We start thinking, okay, now I have the freedom to do it. I like to think about millennials being the age of religious liberties, right? This is my liberty to do this certain thing. And so we just start seeing that kind of thing where it's always been personal faith, but it's like, this is my faith. That was my parents faith. I need to make my own faith. And now we're seeing this with millennial parents, right? Millennial parents are telling their kids, like, you don't need to necessarily go to church all the time. You can learn about your faith personally. Right. And so now it's like a more personal, for lack of better terms, deconstructed. Right. It's what I want it to be.
Laurie Lind [00:04:22]: Trisha you said something about cultural support for their that and some of these generations didn't grow up with that. What would that look like? Or is there cultural support for faith in Christ now, for Gen Alpha or older?
Tricia Lambert [00:04:44]: So what I meant by that term was, like, when I was young, everyone went to church, even people that didn't have a real strong personal interest in faith, but it was culturally accepted to go to church. And so you followed that cultural norm, and people took their kids to church. And we also grew up with a Judeo Christian value system of what was right and what was wrong. There was a stronger identification with truth. More people thought the same thing about truth when I was growing up, as opposed to generations. Now truth has become the lingo that I'm familiar with is truth is personal. In the younger generations, as I would say, truth was more of a specific set of beliefs, and most likely, most of the people on your block would agree with you as you grew up. So those kinds of cultural supports where there was a common understanding of what was right, what was wrong, how that culture does things, honesty was important. You go back to the schools, teachers, like, if a kid got in trouble, the teacher carried more authority, and the parents often supported the teacher in that role. Whereas now there's a I don't know that feels really sticky to get into, but I think it's know, we don't have that same view.
Laurie Lind [00:06:13]: What would you add to that Jeff?
Jeff Hurtak [00:06:16]: Yeah, I mean, uh, in the South you know, I would say, like, the old lingo is: God, family, football type thing. Right. I'll use, like, a practical example. They say that back then it was harder to be an atheist in a football team than it was to be a Christian, right? So, like, atheists were being persecuted on NFL football teams because of the Christian background of it. So you know Christian very much became associated with being a patriot, being American, especially in the south. Right. In the north, we see a little bit of the deviation from that. They're not in the Bible Belt necessarily. So we do still see, like, kids are part of the Bible Belt in Texas and in South United States. You're very much raised in a Christian background, but that Christian background is only as good as your parents or your culture reinforced. The kids are acting like non believers outside of that Sunday school service. Right. But once they are in that Sunday school service, they're Christians. Ten out of ten students will tell you that they were a Christian at birth because they were raised in the church. It's just one of those things where yeah, I think culturally we've leaned towards what I would call just like a personal hedonistic lifestyle. Right. What brings me pleasure, what brings me joy, in the worldly term joy, happiness is what is true. It's practical. This makes me feel good, therefore it's good. Right. But it's not biblical.
Laurie Lind [00:07:49]: So we want to more and more be focused on providing and maintaining a biblical understanding of life, a mindset, and more and more. Tricia and I, we're finding that our leaders are younger than us now. My doctor retired, and now I have a doctor who's younger than me, and pretty soon my dentist is going to be younger than me, and my pastor is already younger than me. Those are the generations. My generation is retiring, and we're being led by millennials, Gen Y I don't know, Z. What are the Christian leadership needs among Christians in these up and coming generations?
Jeff Hurtak [00:08:30]: I do want to make the comment that the way we view generations is usually before they're adults, right? So the immature millennial versus the mature millennial, we see a big shift in millennials once they become adults. They learn responsibility, they learn these types of things. And so I think, first off, I think we have to remember that we're going to see a shift in Gen Z, and it's going to come within the next three, four years, because a lot of them are entering the workforce now. A majority of the workforce will be millennial in just a couple of years, if not all of it. So I did want to make that comment before we think about it. We shouldn't be fearful of millennials being in leadership positions because of the way we saw them as kids. Right. Because we had a lot of issues as millennials. As kids, we also went through a lot with leadership. I think we have to remember that they're different than they were when we came up with these categories, and that will help us respect leadership that is younger, more understanding that they're maturing just like we and I'm saying we, but I'm one of them, right? That's maturing still because we don't mature until like 35, right? No. So I'm making a joke.
Laurie Lind [00:09:46]: I don't think I've matured yet. I'm still hoping it's yeah, right.
Jeff Hurtak [00:09:48]: I do think we'll see with new millennial leadership, I do think we'll see more call to action in our faith, especially from these younger pastors who are we're going to see a more diverse faith, if that makes sense. Diverse and also reconciled. Faith is kind of the term a lot of people are using. If that's racial reconciliation, if that's cultural reconciliation.
Laurie Lind [00:10:16]: So, yeah. What else? We'll see more calls to action. We'll see more practical. Do you mean even like get out there and take care of the homeless. Put your faith to where the rubber meets the road. Don't just sit in the pew here. That kind of thing.
Jeff Hurtak [00:10:31]: I think so not to say that that wasn't happening. I think it's going to be the shift of in the more older generational churches, we have a very strong focus on discipleship, right, and a less of a focus on the outview of the church. We do have seeker friendly, all those types of things. But I think with millennial leadership, we'll see a lot more outward thought. But we might also see we're going to have to fight harder for truth. That outward thought can sometimes override truth. And so that's where we're going to have to call it back. Gen Z, we're going to see that even more gen Z, we're going to see even more action. Gen Z's will only do what makes the world better in their opinion, right. What makes the world better, that's now a relative truth. Right. We would say that it's the gospel, but they may say that it's racial justice or it's all good things. Right. But those are now going to be focal points as opposed to the gospel.
Laurie Lind [00:11:35]: What else do you see about that Tricia?
Tricia Lambert [00:11:37]: So this is education on my part. I haven't read this to be true, but because it seems like millennials have less of a biblical literacy in their background, one of the things that appeals to them is liturgies of the church, and you find a lot of them returning to that. And so my speculation is I wonder if that gives them an anchor point that they don't feel from the culture and that that's one of the things that appeals to them about those liturgies. And I also see them returning more to spiritual disciplines and some of these ancient church practices that as a boomer, we thought were old and so therefore we didn't want anything to do with them if we were the moderns. And so we kind of threw all of that out. But we do see now the church having more of that and more churches that I attend, I've noticed that they've incorporated more liturgy and things like that.
Jeff Hurtak [00:12:41]: I typically see millennials be very ferocious about their faith if they truly believe, if they're true believers, they're ferocious about it because it's something they're passionate about. So they will do everything they can to make sure that is a priority in their life. The issue is that the culture is directly going against that. So unless you're a true believer, you have no chance type thing, right? And I mean that's true in all generations but biblical literacy is down. It goes down every mean. I think general literacy is going down, but biblical literacy is definitely going down.
Laurie Lind [00:13:16]: So as you guys work with your team at Entrust on developing curriculum, and this is various courses aimed at further equipping leaders to lead well in the local church, sometimes overseas, but even more and more for leaders here in North America. How do you know having to shift, how you put these courses together and what techniques or processes do you use? What's changing or what might change going forward?
Tricia Lambert [00:13:48]: So those are definitely questions we're asking as a team of how we make those shifts and make it more accessible to younger readers. So one of the outcomes of the biblical literacy being down is we're actually developing a course on developing a biblical worldview because those are ideas that are not commonplace anymore, they're not in the culture itself. So that was a response that we're seeing. Our leaders don't have the foundation that they used to have. So that's an attempt to help shore that up. So that'll be something that will be available in a year or so for people to use. I think some of it is keeping in mind the culture that these generations are in. So things like broken families, gender confusion, the shorter attention spans, less biblically literate, those are all things that are not points that we're going to directly address in our curriculum. But that's the Milwaukee that we're in and so we have to keep those in mind as we write. One thing that's true about our curriculum is it's not just the words on the page. Our trainings are a whole experience as well. And so some of those things are addressed more through the experience of a training as you go through the material just as much as the written curriculum that they're reading. So relationally interest is very relationally oriented and I think that we could really capitalize on that because a lot of these younger generations are used to having significant relationships through media and it's a new concept for them to have that face to face, know and interface. So that would be one way. So I'm going to let Jeff speak a little bit.
Jeff Hurtak [00:15:48]: Yeah, I think we've had the conversation. We're if we build a curriculum towards one generation, two generations, we're going to have to revise it every two years. At the end of the day, it's an undoable task. But what we can do is look at the general, right? We know that the generations are getting more relational, their attention spans are getting smaller. That's not going to change all of a sudden. There's not going to be a jump in attention span. That'd be great, right? Like, oh, we'll go from 8 seconds to two minutes. We're in the seconds now. It's not going to change. I think we've focused even on our latest edits, and I'm newer, so at the end of the day, I have limited knowledge. Right. But we focused on maybe like, listing some things more than just writing paragraphs about it, seeing what content is actually needed. Because like we said, the later generations, they focus on what's needed, not I don't want us to use that word, so I'm not going to.
Laurie Lind [00:16:54]: You were going to say fluff, right?
Jeff Hurtak [00:16:56]: I was. That's not a fair statement. That's my millennial coming out. The extra explanation. I think Entrust is ahead of the curve because of the natural relationship that we bring in our trainings. Right. There's just a natural ability to make it relational, which the next generations are all about. And I think Tricia alluded to this. It is a different relationship, though. So we haven't developed videos and all these types of things for the curriculum or anything of that nature. And graphics changing things of that nature.
Tricia Lambert [00:17:40]: Yeah, we've kicked around the idea of what pieces of our curriculum can we turn into, like videos. You're talking like 1 minute videos. They're not long. That can convey or just reinforce what you're doing. Maybe it is in the curriculum, but you have some options so that our younger generations can go they like videos, they like that media. So we haven't done much on that front yet, but we've talked about it. How do we explain things using short little videos, I think, too, and this really fits in with our adult education methods, is the desire of these younger generations. They pursue their passions, that what they believe and think are the things that they're interested and curious about. And as we use our adult education methods in our trainings, we're going to be able to capitalize on that. And I think it begins to tailor each group to itself and to the people in the group. That is a value of interest. As we write lesson plans, like, I might have taught lesson three of a certain curriculum ten times already, but as I come to that new group, I rewrite it with those particular people in mind. And so that's a value or a practice that entrust has that will become more and more important as we're working with younger generations. The gospel doesn't change, but how we deliver the gospel and the images that we use to convey it, all of that can vary. It's going to vary culture to culture, and it's going to vary group to group generationally.
Jeff Hurtak [00:19:20]: I think that's the benefit of writing curriculum based out of the Bible. The Bible doesn't change. And so we're able to convey truth in different ways, contextualize it right it's one of our core values.
Laurie Lind [00:19:32]: Well, I don't think we've solved all the problems, but we've definitely defined some of them and touched on some good things to keep in mind. And so I'm really grateful. Thank you both for your insights, and let's keep this dialogue going. Maybe we'll revisit this in a few months when all the generations will have changed already, or a year or yeah, thank you both, really. Thank you, Tricia. Thank you, Jeff. It's been great to just hear you.
Todd Randall [00:20:00]: So what generation are you a part of? Whether you're a boomer or a Gen Z’er or somewhere in between, we trust this two-part series about generations and their spiritual needs has been helpful. Share this podcast with others from your generation, and maybe from a different generation. It could lead to some meaningful dialogue. Also, we'd appreciate your subscribing to Entrust Equipping Leaders, writing a review and sharing it widely with others like you. See you next time here on Entrust Equipping Leaders.