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One of the things I have thought about doing since I came to the DBA was to have a group of people who gathered periodically to review and study a book on an issue that relates to strengthening our churches. Each member of the group would be responsible for reading a portion of the book prior to the meeting. We would come together once or twice a month to discuss the content of the assigned readings. Our goals would be fellowship, prayer and group learning.
After having been here for almost three years, I am now ready to test drive this plan of action. The first book that we will read is written by Haydn Shaw entitled Generational IQ. Shaw is a Steven Covey speaker who specializes in helping businesses deal with multiple generations in the workplace. He has spoken on this issue for close to twenty years. He has also written a book on the subject of generational workplace conflict entitled Sticking Points.
His second book, Generational IQ, was written for the church. It was born out of his experience in the workplace, his experience as a youth minister and as a partner in a church plant. Shaw senses that most conflict that emerges in the church is due to generational issues – not scriptural ones. He supports his theory by spending time talking about the different generations that exist today.
Traditionalists He begins by describing traditionalists who were born before World War II during the Depression. As a group, they have understood sacrifice, loyalty and working together to defeat the enemy. This group typically became loyal members of local churches, and attended whether they liked it or not.
Boomers The boomers were raised in a very optimistic time when America was seen as becoming a dominant industrial country. This group was told by their parents that they could succeed at anything. It was during this time that the word teenager became popular with kids who lived in the city and played outside with friends in their neighborhoods. This group was told for the first time they should have things their way. Due to this mindset, many of them rebelled against the mentality of being loyal to the church, and opted for an individual-focused search for spirituality that led them away from the church. They married and had children and many of them eventually came back to the church.
GenXers The third group, known as GenXers, grew up in a turbulent time when families were breaking apart and their parents were finding out that their secular pursuits did not bring happiness. Needless to say, this group became very cynical and suspicious. They even became suspicious of the church. They were the first group in 500 years to be taught a new mantra – true for you but not for me, which replaced the previous one – we must find the right answers. GenXers as a whole tended to care less about whether the Bible was true. More than anything else they wanted to know if it worked.
Millennials The final group that Shaw talked about were the Millennials. This was the first generation to be widely videotaped from birth. This group was exposed to many different religions. They wanted to take the best from each religion and build a spirituality that worked for them as individuals. Many Millennials have thought that Christians are too judgmental with the unpardonable sin being that of judging someone.
By going into great detail about these generations, Shaw’s goal has been to help individual members of the local church understand the way the other generation thought. He sensed that this was crucial in light of the fact that for the first time in the church’s history there were four to five generations on the earth and a part of a local church. In his estimation, we must understand each generation and begin to ask the question, Is this a generational or a scriptural problem?
I believe by reading Shaw’s book, you and I will have a better understanding of how to lead the church for the next ten years. Through Shaw’s description of the generations and his suggestions, we will grasp a better way to grow the church. If you are interested in participating in this timely study, please email me by May 10: firstname.lastname@example.org. Once I have received your email we will schedule a time to get together at the end of May and begin the process of learning from Hadyn Shaw’s experience as a speaker, youth minister and church planter.