"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Taken together, these three articles (and I have to say, they're true to my own limited experience) paint a picture of a large, rising generation that is VERY different from the Boomers and Xers. While the Xers largely eschewed institutions, the Millennials are either radically remaking current ones or -- more often -- building completely new ones.
Ten years ago, Mike Regele wrote a very popular (at the time) book called "Death of the Church." The buzz around it at the time seems to have been forgotten in the largely Boomer-waged culture wars of the first decade of this century -- but it's proving to be pretty prophetic. Regele's thesis was that the institutional church in America was going to look very different in 25 (now 15) years -- some denominations would die out, all would be radically effected. This wasn't a threat to the Gospel because the Gospel has lasted 2,000 years in spite of humanity's efforts to equate preserving institutions with preserving the Gospel! But, with a direct parallel to the heart of our faith, the churches that would survive to be vessels of the Gospel for and by the next generations would be the ones who would embrace death of their current structures so that something new and wonderful could emerge.
I often quote a Kiwi church planter I met named Andrew Jones once who said "Churches spend too much time asking God to bless what they're doing. What they should be doing is looking around at what God is already doing and asking "How can we bless that?"
I believe much of what we are doing in the church is fighting over what of our actions and structures God is blessing -- believing that "claiming that blessing" will ensure us of eternal life. We are forgetting that God doesn't need the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion! In fact, while we muck about, God is alive and well and wonderful things are going on within the church and certainly without it.
It seems to me what this rising generation is great at is blessing what God is already doing and in being blessed vehicles of God doing pretty cool stuff. I don't see them spending a lot of time (or any, really) fighting about what "the institution" is fighting about. They're out seeking and serving. Some of them are doing it in the church ... but more and more they're doing it outside the church. Creating their own structures and ministries.
A key question for us is --- how can we become a church that values the entrepreneurial gifts of this generation, encourages them, resources them, celebrates them? Another is ... Can we be our own "Disrupter Man" -- breaking open closed systems to maximize creativity -- or will we be the companies that cling to outmoded systems while the world passes us by?
But the real question is the one Regele asked in 1996 -- Are we willing to let much of what we equate with "the church" die so that something new and wonderful can emerge?
And, as Regele said back then, our answer to that question will not determine the future -- only whether we will be dragged kicking and screaming into it or run to embrace it.
In case you're interested in the articles, the first is -- "Gen Y makes a mark and their imprint is entrepreneurship" and it begins
They've got the smarts and the confidence to get a job, but increasing numbers of the millennial generation — those in their mid-20s and younger — are deciding corporate America just doesn't fit their needs.
So armed with a hefty dose of optimism, moxie and self-esteem, they are becoming entrepreneurs.
"People are realizing they don't have to go to work in suits and ties and don't have to talk about budgets every day," says Ben Kaufman, 20, founder of a company that makes iPod accessories. "They can have a job they like. They can create a job for themselves."
The second is a sidebar called "Companies slow to adjust to work-life balance concerns of Gen Y" and it begins
Businesses are struggling to keep pace with a new generation of young people entering the workforce, who have starkly different attitudes and desires than employees over the past few decades.
"We're at the tip of the iceberg," says Steve Miranda, of the Society for Human Resource Management, in Alexandria, Va. "The next 10 to 15 years will bring significant changes to expectations of what employers need to provide.
Workers born since the early 1980s (known as millennials, Generation Y or echo boomers) crave a more collaborative work environment and detest drudgery, say workplace analysts. They want a work-life balance, which is often at odds with the values of the corporate world.
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."