For the first time in American history, there are five generations in the workforce. An insightful book on these generations: Sticking Points: How to get 5 generations working together in the 12 places they come apart, by Haydn Shaw (Tyndale, 2020).
The five generations are: Traditionalists (born before 1945); Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1964); Gen X (b. 1965-1980); Millennials (b. 1981-1995); and Gen Z (b. 1996-2009). Shaw presents national and world events that helped shape each generation in how they perceive life and why they sometimes act and think in certain ways.
Two examples from this and other research and experiences may be helpful to pique your interest. When it comes to communicating, the Traditionalists generation might prefer some one to write them a letter; the Boomers, a telephone call; Gen X, an email; and Millennials, a text.
Another example might be a church business meeting proposal: Traditionalists might ask, “How much will this cost?”; Boomers might ask, “What’s the benefit for me and for my family?”; Gen X might ask, “Why should I care about this?”; Millennials might ask, “Is this pastor/leader trustworthy?”.
It will prove helpful to a church’s fellowship and mission when leadership understands why the different generations have unique approaches to communication, decision-making, dress code, meetings, policies, and respect, just to name a few.
A sixth generation, Generation Alpha (b. 2010-2025) is not addressed in Sticking Points, but Daliah Wachs, M.D., has written s short book entitled, Generation Alpha: They’re Alpha for a Reason. This generation is still developing its unique personality as they are children or yet to be born. It’ll be interesting to see the opportunities God gives the church to reach, teach and minister to this youngest generation.
Each generation has faced and will face challenges with life’s circumstances and changes. However, Christ is still our hope, and today every church is presented with opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the generations in their congregation, community, and world.