"How do you keep five generations happy? And since we're living longer, churches change more slowly because those in leadership positions remain in those roles longer than they ever have before. That people live thirty years longer than they used to is one of God's most amazing blessings. But it could also send millions of people to hell." — Haydn Shaw, "Generational IQ"
The world has changed. In eras past, there were two to three generations sharing the same space. Now, there are six living generations, all that need to be serviced by the church. That creates some difficulty. The world is changing. What it takes to reach the younger generations — Generation X and Millennials — requires some different thinking. Sadly, churches can't always keep up.
And that's what Shaw's book, "Generational IQ," seeks to address. It looks at the four major generations needing to be services in the church — The Silent/Builder/Traditionalist Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. The book takes a look at the four generations, what shaped them, their spiritual strengths, and their temptations.
The quote above is one that stood out to me because it was a striking challenge. He says that in reference to churches not adapting to the needs of younger generations — Gen X and Millennials — fast enough, which is causing the decline in mainline churches and the rise of the "Nones."
He follows that jarring statement is a description about how changes used to happen. In eras past, the generations would naturally turn over, leading to an adaptation in the church and handoff to the next generation every 10-15 years. Now, people are living 30 years longer. They're getting a second adulthood. And, for some churches, the Baby Boomers continue to hold the reins in the church as they do in the workplace.
All the generations are valuable and all have something to give. We can all learn from each other. But the decline of mainline denominations and churches, and the rise of the "Nones," suggests that something has to change. We need to start asking the hard questions and changing our tactics if we're going to reach the younger generations.