I recently heard two authors interviewed about their book, “Millennial Momentum” on the PBS News Hour. I haven’t read the book yet but probably will. Please take 10 minutes to listen to the interview.
In 2009 the ELCA adopted constitutional changes setting a goal of having 10% representation of youth and young adults at the Churchwide and Synod assemblies, on all synod and church councils, taskforces, committees, etc. In 2010 the Metropolitan New York Synod adopted those changes, and in 2011 the Synod Assembly voted that a taskforce be established to bring these changes about. When we look around, it’s clear that these young people are missing from the table. The average church member is 55 years old while the average age in the US population is approximately 35. Church membership continues to drop.
As the song says, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” When I speak to people about the millennial generation, I’m sometimes surprised that they haven’t a clue what I’m talking about. Sociologists have identified various characteristics of different age groups which result of their life experiences. Maybe you’ve heard of the Baby Boomers and Gen-X. The Mellenials, sometimes called Gen-Y, are usually defined as those born after 1980.
Why is important that we listen to these people, especially for us in the church? The short answer is, because they are changing the world. A recent example is the “Arab Spring”. Although I don’t think most of us realize it, the church is in transition (see Phyllis Tickle’s book, “The Great Emergence”). We may experience that as reduced numbers of people in the pews and less monetary support. However, when young people are asked if they feel they are more or less religious then they were, say, 5 years ago, a majority say “more religious” (see “A Faith of Their Own” by Melinda Lundquist Denton). So please, to start to understand what’s happening take 10 minutes to listen to this video, and then ask yourself, what does this mean for the church!?
I would appreciate hearing your comments.
deacon Charlie Germain
Chair of the Taskforce for 10% Representation
Metropolitan New York Synod