Our nation has been hit with a demographic tidal wave of historic proportions. They are sometimes called Generation Y, because they followed Generation X. Some refer to them as the Echoboomers, because they are children of the Boomers. In an older book, I called them the Bridger Generation, because they are a bridge from one millennium to the next.
But the Millennials seems to be the name of choice. They are the generation that will begin and lead in this new millennium.
The Largest Generation Ever
Do you remember the attention that we aging Baby Boomers received? The reason for the attention was largely pragmatic. There are 76 million of us Boomers, and we represented much spending power.
But the numbers of the Millennials dwarf those of the Boomers. Though demographers have not quite settled on the birth dates of the Millennials, the consensus seems to be falling in the 1978 to 2000 range for birth years. If that is the case, there are 103 million of these young people whose ages range from nine to 31 today.
Did you get the number? 103 million! There are several nations smaller than this generation.
And four out of ten in this generation will be a part of a minority race or ethnic group. They are diverse, and they will be politically powerful. In the 2020 presidential election, this generation will represent nearly 40 percent of all eligible voters.
Into the Workforce
The Millennials are poised to take the workplace by storm. By next year an estimated 31 million of these young adults will be in the U. S. workplace. Of course, that number will grow every year for years to come.
And the Millennials don’t think or act as previous generations did. They aren’t just breaking the rules; they are creating new rules. Some organizations will be threatened by their numbers; others will see it as an opportunity.
The Generation of Social Media
We are just beginning to get a grasp on how significant social media is to this generation and, conversely, how significant the generation is to the growth of that media. This is the generation of text messages, Facebook, and Twitter. This is the generation that communicates electronically even if they are in the same room. This is the generation that has a significantly different understanding of communication than previous generations. Four out of ten Millennials visit Facebook at least weekly. For some it is the most meaningful form of communication they have.
Millennials and the Church
How will the American church respond? The answer thus far is not encouraging. Approximately one out of ten Millennials has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the most non-Christian generation in America’s history. And the attitude of the Millennials toward churches is generally negative, even among Christian Millennials.
But the news is not all bad. This generation may not include many Christians, but their attitude toward spiritual matters is generally open. And when they happen to show up at one of our churches, they want deep and meaty preaching and teaching. They want to know what we believe and why we believe.
Further, those churches that are reaching the Millennials tend to be high expectation churches. This generation wants to be a part of something where they can make a difference.
The Millennials are coming.
They are the largest generation in our history.
We can lament the lack of Christian influence among these young people. Or we can see it as one of the greatest opportunities to reach a generation we have ever known.
There is much at stake. Over 100 million souls.
The Millennials are coming.
Are you ready?