Church Leaders Frustrated with Millennial Staff

In the last three months, I have talked with more than two dozen pastors and other church leaders who supervise staff who are frustrated with their young, millennial staff. The top three prevailing comments of frustration shared among almost all the pastors and leaders I have talked with are:

  1. “Our younger staff members don’t know to work in the office. They want to be in on every project or conversation.”
  2. “It seems our younger staff members are not as committed as our other staff.”
  3. “Most of our younger staff members want too much of my time.”

Millennials, just like any other generation, clearly have a variety of traits and characteristics that make them unique and, therefore, worth studying and conversing about. Not, obviously, as a people group to change or fix but rather to learn from and participate with.

The working styles of millennials are certainly no exception to generational uniqueness’s. Being able to adapt our “traditional” styles to create working cultures where millennials not only fit but also thrive is critical to the health and impact of the church moving forward.

“Our younger staff members don’t know how to work in the office. They want to be in on every project or conversation.”
This is simply because millennials are collaborators. Most millennials were raised to share in the responsibility--so give it to them. Provide those on your team with significant ways in which they can contribute to the greater whole. It is imperative that millennials feel as though they are sharing in the grand vision of your church. They need to not only know the “why” behind the “how” and “what,” they must also be able to consistently experience tangible ways of contributing to it.

“It seems our younger staff members are not as committed as our other staff.”
I cringe every time I hear this phrase or any phrase that closely resembles it. My experience is that most millennials often get bored easily and they are impatient. This means that as a leader you might have to work harder to keep them engaged. This will likely test your leadership competency. You should welcome this challenge, as it will make you a more effective and proficient leader. When people get bored, they move on to other things or create additional and alternative ways to find meaning and purpose. If you see millennials checking out, you should ask yourself if there is any way you can lead better in those situations.

“Most of our younger staff members want too much of my time.”
Yes, this is likely the case. Millennials (79% of them, actually) would prefer to work with a boss who serves as a mentor or coach. If you hire millennials, you should expect them to have a desire to learn and grow--to be better leaders. Mentoring definitely can eat up a chunk of your time. If you can’t possibly provide mentoring to your team members, then find a way to make it happen. You can do this by asking another senior staff member to provide it, or guardedly outsource it so a key volunteer leader you implicitly trust can meet the challenge.

Other important topics that occasionally arise in my conversations with pastors and leaders are issues related to millennials desiring a healthy work-life balance, flexibility, creative inspiration and a constant reminder of the ‘why’ and vision. We will talk about those in a future blog.