Generations congregational hospitality for all


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This workshop will explore the aging trends in ELCA and other mainline denomination congregations as compared to population demographics in North America as a whole. Why are so many of our congregations failing to reach the under 40 crowd? We will examine the unique formative events in the lives and characteristics of the current generations (Builders, Boomers, Gen X’rs, and Millennials) and offer suggestions for worship, faith formation and communications that suit their generational perspectives.

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Generations congregational hospitality for all

  1. 1. Generations: Congregational Hospitality for All <ul><li>Beth Lewis, President & CEO </li></ul><ul><li>Augsburg Fortress </li></ul><ul><li>May 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>All Rights Reserved </li></ul><ul><li>© 2011 Augsburg Fortress </li></ul>
  2. 2. 2011: Five+ Living Generations <ul><li>G.I. 1901-1926 (85+) </li></ul><ul><li>Builder 1927-1945 (66-84) </li></ul><ul><li>Boomer 1946-1964 (47-65) </li></ul><ul><li>Gen X 1965-1981 (30-46) </li></ul><ul><li>Millennial 1982-2006 (5-29) </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Builders 1927-1945 (66-84)
  4. 4. The Builders 1927-1945 (66-84) <ul><li>Wealthier, physically fit, and savvy consumers </li></ul><ul><li>Unique formative years: 1930’s to 1960’s (suffering thru depression and threat of cold war, yet enjoyed prosperity of the 50’s and 60’s </li></ul><ul><li>Conservative—don’t rock the boat! </li></ul><ul><li>Loyal </li></ul><ul><li>As they age a) connect with grandchildren; b) think and act young; c) travel </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Boomers 1946-1964 (47-65)
  6. 6. The Boomers 1946-1964 (47-65) <ul><li>Formative years: 50’s to early ’80’s </li></ul><ul><li>Values: powerful message of idealism, sense of right/wrong </li></ul><ul><li>Empowerment: “We can make a difference!” </li></ul><ul><li>Experienced family of origin as a strong unit </li></ul><ul><li>Live life to the fullest, unlimited opportunities, career-driven/ competitive </li></ul>
  7. 7. Adulthood of Boomers 1946-1964 (47-65) <ul><li>Dual career generation </li></ul><ul><li>Struggle w/ marriage: high divorce rate </li></ul><ul><li>Struggle w/ parenting: neglecting children </li></ul><ul><li>Brilliant in the workplace: </li></ul><ul><li>--Define self in terms of accomplishment </li></ul><ul><li>--No rush to retirement </li></ul><ul><li>Forever young mentality </li></ul><ul><li>Free-spirited, boisterous </li></ul><ul><li>Comfortable in the spotlight </li></ul><ul><li>Consumption-oriented </li></ul>
  8. 8. Our churches are pretty good at reaching builders & boomers, but….
  9. 9. Who is in our mainline churches? 65% 35% 18% 4%
  10. 10. Gen-X 1965-1981 (30-46)
  11. 11. Gen-X 1965-1981 (30-46) <ul><li>First generation of latch-key kids </li></ul><ul><li>Formative years: ‘70’s, ‘80’s, ‘90’s </li></ul><ul><li>Much of their life is about survival: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Widespread divorce (40% raised in single parent household) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parents lacked time to spend with kids (dual career or single parent households) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Permissiveness (parents compensating for lack of time) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mobile society (multiple schools) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Core Values of Gen-X 1965-1981 (30-46) <ul><li>Independence/Self-reliance </li></ul><ul><li>High expectations of “having it all…now” </li></ul><ul><li>Marriage is disposable </li></ul><ul><li>Non-racist, non-judgmental generation </li></ul><ul><li>Strong female generation (males seeking identity/masculinity) </li></ul>
  13. 13. A few ways to reach the Gen X generation 1965-1981 (30-46) <ul><li>A high quality website as an entry point to church </li></ul><ul><li>More intentional connection w/ preschool & school age families </li></ul><ul><li>Help them connect through Community & Service events </li></ul><ul><li>Inspiring, multi-sensory worship </li></ul><ul><li>Authenticity/transparency </li></ul>
  14. 14. Then, how do we keep GenX’rs? <ul><li>Small groups to build and enrich community…often outside traditional church settings </li></ul><ul><li>Kid friendly worship </li></ul><ul><li>Hands-on service opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Educational programs that relate to life </li></ul><ul><li>issues, such as connecting with their kids </li></ul><ul><li>Help them become significant leaders </li></ul><ul><li>in the church community </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate using technology (emails, </li></ul><ul><li>good website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) </li></ul>
  15. 15. How do we engage GenX’rs through & with worship?
  16. 16. Clayfire
  17. 17. FREE!
  18. 18. How do we help GenX’rs connect with their young children through church?
  19. 19.
  20. 20. How do we help GenX’rs grow in faith through authentic, engaging small groups?
  21. 21. The Greatest Story Making Sense series’ by David Lose Innovative Small Group Bible Study Resources
  22. 22. Congregational book club using Foss: Power Surge via Facebook Zion Lutheran Church, Buffalo, MN 1 of 4: info on their church website
  23. 23. Congregational book club using Foss: Power Surge via Facebook Zion Lutheran Church, Buffalo, MN 2 of 4: announcement on their Facebook page
  24. 24. Congregational book club using Foss: Power Surge via Facebook Zion Lutheran Church, Buffalo, MN 3 of 4: Separate Facebook page for the book club
  25. 25. 4 of 4: Announced the Facebook-based book club via Twitter
  26. 26. Millennial 1982-2006 (5-29)
  27. 27. Millennial 1982-2006 (5-29) <ul><li>Formative years: 1980’s to 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Two events that define this generation:September 11 and Hurricane Katrina </li></ul><ul><li>Most adult-supervised kids ever (vs. Gen X) </li></ul><ul><li>Raised with strong family ties & parental involvement </li></ul><ul><li>Optimistic and enthusiastic </li></ul>
  28. 28. Millennial world-view 1982-2006 (5-29) <ul><li>Focused on education </li></ul><ul><li>Team players </li></ul><ul><li>Active in the world: social service activities, concern about the environment, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Giving Generation”: Helping others in record numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Digital natives </li></ul><ul><li>Active in social networks </li></ul><ul><li>Non-judgmental re: race, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference </li></ul>
  29. 29. Millenials’ favorite communications tool: Texting USA Today Oct. 5, 2010
  30. 31. But, they also are on the Internet…a lot!
  31. 32. And, use of social media is ubiquitous
  32. 33. A few ways to reach Millennials <ul><li>Websites & social networking are taken for granted </li></ul><ul><li>Text-messaging: their communications tool of choice </li></ul><ul><li>Many service event options </li></ul><ul><li>Intergenerational activities </li></ul><ul><li>Inspiring, multi-sensory worship </li></ul>
  33. 34. Then, how do we keep them? <ul><li>Regular communication via social networking & text messaging </li></ul><ul><li>Small groups to build and enrich community…often outside traditional church settings </li></ul><ul><li>Hands-on service opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Help them become involved in church with small flexible time commitments </li></ul>
  34. 35. Core Confirmation Traditions Ancestors
  35. 36. Engages youth in affirming their faith through their confirmation experience
  36. 37. Congregational faith formation programming reflects the relative absence of young adults (or vice versa?) <ul><li>Religious education offered for those: </li></ul><ul><li>age 12 and younger = 82% </li></ul><ul><li>13-14 year olds = 64% </li></ul><ul><li>15-19 year olds = 53% </li></ul><ul><li>Young adults or college students = 37% </li></ul><ul><li>* National Congregations Study, 2009 </li></ul>
  37. 38. Some good news for the church… <ul><li>Teens & young adults want to serve others </li></ul><ul><li>Teens & young adults care about social justice issues </li></ul><ul><li>Teens & young adults often self-identify as “spiritual” </li></ul><ul><li>Teens & young adults crave community </li></ul>
  38. 39. Let us know how we may assist you welcome people of all generations in your context! Beth Lewis [email_address]