What Do Millennials Want to be Called?
According to a recent report on MSN News, Millennials want a new name.
Their preference: “young people.”
This finding was among Canadians, given in a report titled, “Understanding and Attracting Millennials,” a government commissioned study. The report gave the hosts at MSN a springboard for three minutes of conversation.
Here is a link to a graphic summary of the major findings. You can also download the report.
Most of these research findings are unsurprising. Millennials are open to new experiences, they want to be heard, and they are comfortable with technology. They are also unsettled by negative stereotypes that have been attached to their generation. That is why they said they preferred to be called “young people.”
That is incredibly generic, and “young people” won’t be young forever. They’ll age. Generational labels capture a moment in time, and are often used by demographers to track trends and observe patterns among specific age groups. “Gen X” doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, but “Boomers” does. “Young people” is more reflective of a season. It isn’t forever.
There is a point of insight here for church ministry. When you say “Millennial” in your congregation, what do people hear? Do congregants think of a group of people in a specific generation who are young, or do they think of the stereotypes, like Millennials being entitled, lazy, or soft? Does the term “Millennial,” in your congregation, help those in the Millennial generation connect with your mission, vision, and values? Does it attract people to Jesus? Does it foster openness to the gospel, and extend an invitation to discipleship? Does it help those of older generations have a passion for mentoring and passing on the teachings of Christ? How is “Millennial” heard and received in your neighborhood?
In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul writes, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.” If “Millennial” offends Millennials, rather than chiding them for their sensitivity, just change the term! If “Millennials” makes older people in your congregation think negatively about a segment of the body of Christ, call them “our younger brothers and sisters.” Words matter, for our words shape our perception of reality.
When casting vision for Millennials, make sure you use words that help others to hear the gospel and remain receptive to Jesus.