How can we connect with the next generation?

Psalm 78:5-6 tells us to pass on what we know to them.
“He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.”

For what purpose?

“Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” (Psalm 78:7)

For ten years now, sociologists have been surveying students from the Millenial Generation.  They are the kids born between 1984-2002.  Authors Howe and Strauss drew some early conclusions about them.  Some of them remain the same; others have changed as we move further into the 21st century.  Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this generation today.  Each of the positive qualities has a negative consequence and vice-versa.

Knowing these, what can we do? What are some practical steps we can take?

  1. Listen to them and affirm their dreams and purpose.  It’s so easy to cut them off and say, “You don’t know what you are saying.”
  2. Give them a sense of purpose as they perform menial tasks.  Help them connect the small things to the bigger picture.
  3. Give them short commitments they can keep, and put wins under their belts.  Help them to make and keep short term commitments.  Millenials have a tough time making long term commitments, since everything in their world has been so instant.
  4. Offer them realistic ideas and boundaries to their often over-optimistic goals.  They will often possess lofty dreams and they need help turning them into bite-size objectives with deadlines.  Don’t rain on their parade – just help them take realistic steps, one at a time toward their target.
  5. Help them to focus on one, meaningful objective and pull it off.  This is hard because they are used to multi-tasking.  Leaders can do something but not everything.
  6. Encourage them to enjoy their life, and remove some self-imposed pressure.
  7. Work with them to simplify their lives.  Millenials will become involved in far too many activities at once, in their passion to make a difference and get all they can out of life.  They must learn to simplify and figure out what really matters.
  8. Discuss personal values with them and help them to become value-driven.
  9. Challenge them to take their place in history.  We need them to make a contribution to their community and to the world at large.  Give them a sense of destiny.  Talk to them about heroes from history (historical mentors), especially ones that come from the elder generation.

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