Category Archives: Gen Y

Gen Y, you are now grown up. This is a good thing.

Gen Y/Millenials are now officially old. Well maybe not old, but old enough to no longer be the new kids on the block. Definitions of when Gen Y/Millenials were born vary widely, but sometime around 1980 seems to be the general consensus. Which means that most members of the generational cohort have turned thirty or are in their mid to late twenties. Many Gen Y’s tell me that they do not feel ‘grown up’ but the raw data of their lived years tells a different story. Despite our culture having a liquid idea of maturity, Gen Y’s are well into adulthood.

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Millennials Interview Podcast

I was on Hank Hannegraaff’s radio show in the US today, discussing the recent article that I wrote for the Christian Research Journal. Hank read out the section of my article where I talk about the relevance of the cross today, his voice, made it sound heaps more impressive than I ever could with my nasal Aussie accent. You can download or listen here.

Why Asian Kids are Happier and More Balanced

When you read a lot of stuff about the rise of narcissism in the West and it’s links to unhappiness, one thing that always comes up is the difference between Asian kids and their self esteem and Western kids. Asian kids tend to have lower self esteem but are happier, more balanced and have much better mental health. A controversial new approach is lauding the Asian way of parenting over the Western approach. Check out more here.

Under the Surface of the Millennial Generation

I was asked to write an article for the Christian Research Journal exploring the worldview of Young Adults. It is a pretty lengthy piece, and I take quite a different tack than just labelling young adults as tech savvy, lazy etc, I explore the deeper sociological and theological issues that frame the worldview of millennials. It is featured in the current edition.

More teens becoming ‘fake’ Christians

From must read article on CNN.

Your child is following a “mutant” form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Translation: It’s a watered-down faith that portrays God as a “divine therapist” whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.

Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of “Almost Christian,” a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.

She says this “imposter” faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.

“If this is the God they’re seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust,” Dean says. “Churches don’t give them enough to be passionate about.”

Read the whole piece here. (H/T Dave)

The Problem with Generational Study

Interesting article which suggests that the meta trends of the post boomer generations mean more than the intricacies of differences between Xrs, Y’s and Z’s. Check out article here

Event: Discipling The New Humans

On June 3rd at 7:30pm here in Melbourne I will be speaking at an Uber event called Discipling the New Humans. The event is open to anyone but it will be especially helpful for leaders who wish to bring teams who are ministering to or doing mission with Young Adults.

I will be addressing a whole bunch of new material, talking about what I have been learning lately and specifically teaching about how young adults operate something like new humans, who process life, faith and the world in new ways.

We are going to go way beyond talking about generations, postmodernism or tweaking church. Instead we are going to go on a journey over the last 500 years to see how the new human has been birthed. Plus we will be examining key principles that ministry teams can apply in their own context. Should be a fun trip! Hope to see you there. You can download the details here new humans event info

The Non U.S. Myths of The Five Myths of Emerging Young Adults

Christian Smith and Patricia Snell have released Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, a sequel to the excellent Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. The books are statistical and sociological analysis of the religious lives of American teens and now Young Adults or in their language Emerging Adults. Leadership Journal has put together their own trends in reflection of their reading of the book. The interesting question I would like to explore is do these US trends also reflect what is going on in Australia, New Zealand and Europe which is where many of you readers find yourselves.

Myth 1: Emerging adults serve out of concern for the common good.

College campuses are wallpapered with fliers promoting service opportunities. Churches send their youth on local and foreign mission projects. Political analysts credit youth volunteers and voters with helping to elect President Obama in 2008.

It’s mostly a mirage.

According to Smith and Snell, emerging adults are far less likely than their parents or grandparents to volunteer or contribute to charitable causes. They share no qualms about materialism and long to someday live the American dream with a large salary and large home.

“Few emerging adults are involved in community organizations or other social change-oriented groups or movements,” Smith and Snell observe. “Not many care to know much of substance about political issues and world events.

This one is fairly spot on with most of the research that I have seen outside of the US. Young Adult activism, political and social engagement is practiced by a vocal but small minority. In fact many experts claim that young adults are the least socially and politically engaged generation alive.

Myth 2: Emerging adults reject their parents’ religious influence.

As children approach the teenage years, their parents anticipate conflict. Because many parents worry about dragging their teens to church against their will, many resign themselves to parental irrelevance. Yet Smith and Snell find that most emerging adults fall into their parents’ religious patterns one way or another. Still, parents are slow to realize they need to change how they relate to foster maturity and independence.

Again this is probably true outside of the US. As many young adults at least here in Australia share the values of the parents in a way not seen in previous post-war generations.

Myth 3: Emerging adults behave similarly whether religious or not.

Actually, emerging adults devoted to religion are significantly more likely to give money, volunteer for community service, decline alcohol and drugs, and abstain from pornography and premarital sex.

Trouble is, only 5 percent of emerging adults are so devoted to their faith that they attend religious services weekly or read Scripture as much as once or twice per month. And that group includes Mormons, Muslims, Jews, and all Christian denominations.  But their behavior often resembles the irreligious more than the devoted. They practice a different creed: so long as you don’t hurt others, almost anything goes. And since every single person is different, different rules apply, depending on the situation.

Ok the myth could have been written better here. What they are saying is that there is a myth that Christian young adults act in pretty much the same way as non-Christian young adults, but then they say that most self described Christian young adults do act like the rest of the culture. Except for the tiny minority who actually practice an engaged point. Hence you can see why many are confused. This is a similar point to the one made by David Myers in his book A Friendly Letter to Atheists about believers of all ages.

Myth 4: Emerging adults have abandoned liberal Protestantism.

Some evangelicals enjoy pointing out rapidly declining attendance at liberal churches. But Smith and Snell temper that enthusiasm. Even those who check the right boxes on Jesus and heaven do not heed God’s call on their lives. No matter their professed beliefs, emerging adults tend to live for jobs, money, fun, and friends. At the gut level, liberal values trump biblical doctrine.

Smith and Snell observe: “Individual autonomy, unbounded tolerance, freedom from authorities, the affirmation of pluralism, the centrality of human self-consciousness, the practical value of moral religion, epistemological skepticism, and an instinctive aversion to anything ‘dogmatic’ or committed to particulars were routinely taken for granted by respondents.”

Again not a well articulated myth. What they are saying echoes the previous myth, but it does not really mean that liberal protestantism continues to erode. They are confusing terms here with the classic use of the term liberal in the US to describe social values or behaviour, and the concept of theological liberalism.

Myth 5: Emerging adults tend to fall away from faith in college.

Many parents fear their children’s going off to college, where peers and professors deconstruct everything they learned growing up. But Smith and Snell echo other studies that show emerging adults who do not attend college are more likely to fall away from faith. Why? There are a greater number of evangelical faculty members who support like-minded students. The modernist enterprise with its secularizing agenda has all but collapsed. And evangelical campus groups flourish.

The hard data from Australia, New Zealand and the UK goes against this. University has a devastating affect on faith on young adults in those countries. I guess if you like me are reading this outside of the US you would have to giggle at this one. There is no way that in Australia, New Zealand and Europe that the ‘modernist enterprise with its secularizing agenda has all but collapsed’ in Universities. In fact outside the US in our post 9/11 world I would say that it had a shot in the arm. Just look to the example of the fact that New Atheist groups are springing up on University campuses here in Australia.

On the whole for the Western non US reader some interesting trends to observe, but also a reminder that we are in a very different and much more secular environment and therefore challenging landscape than the US church; a fact that we know in our context but often forget as we walk through the doors of the Christian bookstore.

Read the full article here. Thanks to Tim for the spot.

Ke$ha and Binge Culture

It’s hard to make the case that Ke$ha “glamourises” binge drinking – she looks a bit worse for wear – but she’s doing a great job of glorifying it. She’s acquired substantial wealth and fame on the back of her assiduous cultivation of an image of unrepentant alcoholism. Whether or not permanent intoxication factually describes her actual day-to-day existence, is beside the point. Ke$ha actively contructs herself as a barely functional alcoholic whose sole interest in life is partying HARD and singing her own low-life praises. The fact that she’s managed to turn at least two alco-pop dirges into chart-topping singles is unlikely to escape the notice of her tweenage fans. Why sweat your exam results when professional inebriation beckons? Career drinking’s never been so potentially lucrative – or, as the singer would have us believe, so liberating.

From an interesting article about the rise of Ke$ha and her sub genre of alco-pop, which is basically teen electro-pop that lauds alcoholism. This was particularly relevant as I read because I was recently talking to some Church leaders who approached leaders in their community and asked what was the area in which they needed most assistance from the Church. One surprising answer came back loud and clear – Alcohol abuse, especially binge drinking by young adults and teens.

The secular authorities said that they needed the church to help them model to both younger and older people responsible drinking. Here in Australia around sixty people die each week due to excessive alcohol intake, a disturbing statistic and in my opinion a justice issue that needs more attention from within the Christian community, despite it’s perceived unhipness.  The church can lobby and promote sensible and safe drinking but in the end probably the best that individual believers can do is to model responsible drinking themselves. Who would of thunk it? A missional opportunity through responsible drinking!

Book Launch Tomorrow and the Rise of Anti-Cool

Just  a reminder that tomorrow is the book launch for The Vertical Self. There are a few spaces left, but you will need to get in quick. See details here.

Also interesting comments from marketing executive Matt Britton on the rise of anti-Cool. I agree with the phenomenon that he is describing, but would probably not agree that it signals the death of cool. Cool still exists it has just morphed as it always does. Also not sure that we are now in an age that promotes imperfection, there is still something hyperreal about being snapped by paparazzi drunk and without makeup out side of Chateau Marmont at 3 am. Anyways have a read and make up your own minds.

Growing up as a teen in the late ’80s and early ’90s was much simpler on so many levels. I never remember hearing the words economy, terrorism, war or debt. Instead, my thoughts were left to my dreams and curiosity. Since the library was not the place I aspired to be, and the Internet was far from reach, I was left to my imagination about much of what the world had to offer.

The catalyst for my dreams growing up as a teen were the icons I looked up to and aspired to be like. Long before celebrity scandals were everyday news I, like many of my peers, were left with the innocent feeling of putting my heroes on impenetrable pedestals. Bobby Brown (see: mug shot), Charles Barkley (ditto), and yes, Brandon from Beverly Hills 90210 were at the top of my list.

No matter whom I looked up to as a teen, every icon had one thing in common … cool. They acted cool, dressed cool, talked cool and walked cool.

Fast forward to 2010, and the headlines are much different as are teens’ perceptions of their icons. The Internet, camera phones, and Perez Hilton have exposed those who might otherwise be teens’ everyday heroes as frauds or creeps, and there is little left to the imagination. The halo of cool has become blurred and faded with yet another flash from a TMZ photographer.

Enter the “age of anti-cool” for the modern teen. With each new celebrity wart exposed, the notion of hero and idol has virtually disappeared only to be awkwardly replaced by the likes of Michael Cera, Shaun White and Glee. Today’s rising teen heroes are largely embraced because of their flaws rather than their airbrushed perfection. We are entering an age that celebrates and promotes imperfection.

Read Full Article Here

US Young adults ‘less religious,’ not necessarily ‘more secular’

Young adults today are less church-connected than prior generations were when they were in their 20s. But a new study finds they’re just about as spiritual as their parents and grandparents were at those ages. Members of today’s Millennial generation, ages 18 to 29, are as likely to pray and believe in God as their elders were when they were young, says the report from Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. “They may be less religious, but they’re not necessarily more secular” than the Generation Xers or Baby Boomers who preceded them, says Alan Cooperman, associate director of research.

Interesting research out of the US, which is in contrast to research coming out of Australia, The UK and New Zealand which says that in those countries young adults are not only becoming less ‘religious’ but also less ‘spiritual’. This shows in part the way in which the US lags behind in the secularisation trend when compared to other western countries. Read Full article here

TechnoCocoons and What Come After Gen Y.

“iGeners, however, are different. They know no other world than that of the Web, texting and social networking. They were online when they could sit up and sent an e-mail to Grandma; they made MySpace a household name by their early teens. They live in their own bedroom “TechnoCocoons,” where new technologies appear and penetrate society in months rather than years.”

Read Full Article here

Gen Y gets Older

The Age has an article about Generation Y turning thirty. Nothing really that earth shattering or new in this article, it’s pretty much the same stuff you have probably read before. One problem with these kinds of articles is that they always tend to focus on Gen Y’s which are in the corporate world, which is not the mainstream of Y’s.

The majority of Gen Y’s are working as teachers or plumbers or in hardware stores, yet when you read these articles you would think that every Gen Y is the head of the marketing department of a major company. I guess this happens because most of the experts that they interview for these articles make their living consulting for major corporations. Anyways I will shut up now and let you get to reading the article. Fifty is just around the corner!

Why Young Adults Leave Church

One of the most common speaking requests that I get is to come and speak to church boards and leadership teams about why so many young adults are leaving our churches. About a year ago I wrote out some of my content of why this is so. I thought that it might be helpful to point them out again for newer readers of this blog who might have missed them the first time.

Your Faithclock is Ticking: Why Young Adults leave Church

Why Young Adults Leave Church: Reason 1 Choice Anxiety

Why Young Adults Leave Church: Reason 2 Post-Christian Identity

Why Young Adults Leave the Church: Reason 3 The Pornification of Christian Resources

Why Young Adults Leave Church: Reason 4 Consumerist Spirituality

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Kanye West’s fake stage invasion and the death of advertising

Al and Laura Ries note in their book The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of P.R. that the classic mode of advertising (eg TV, Print and Radio spots) has given way to the rise to a new kind of marketing that is the art of publicity generation. Much of this new mode of marketing is surreptitious, involving seemingly real yet orchestrated publicity stunts. These pseudo events, create controversy and online chatter thus ensuring that product gains media exposure. Kayne West’s stage invasion at the VMA’s is a classic case in point. Read more here

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Five year Contractual Relationships

Put simply, Xers and Ys prefer contract relationships, which are not unlike a property lease: five years with an option for five more.

Demographer Bernard Salt

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A national study fresh out of SDSU is confirming that Generation Y really is Generation Me. The jaw-dropping conclusion? 57% of young people believe their generation uses social networking sites for self-promotion, narcissism and attention seeking. While it’s no surprise that social media would cater to a more self-promotional audience, it’s certainly interesting to note that not only does Gen Y think of their social behaviors as narcissistic, but almost 40% (39.27%) agree that “being self-promoting, narcissistic, overconfident, and attention-seeking is helpful for succeeding in a competitive world.”

Read Full Article here. Thanks to Joyce for finding this.

Cultivate Training Event

If you are in Melbourne you might be interested in this event. For those of you who have heard me speak about Gen Y this one is going to be a bit different with a fair bit of new content and reflection, might see you there!

YFC mark sayers

I want to be famous…

Sadly, increasing numbers of young folk believe they are both entitled and able, thanks to their parents, thanks to lazy new-age mumbo-jumbo, and thanks to a general milieu that makes it all seem so easy. The roster of TV and radio game shows and talent quests is endless. Just this week a promotion for a remake of the movie Fame opened with the line ”Got talent? Get famous!”, and offered a chance at – you guessed it – instant celebrity. And that’s on top of an advertising and marketing machine that makes a glamorous life seem not just accessible, but the norm.

”We market unrealistic aspirations to young kids all the time,”…”They’re bombarded by messages all the time of this perfect, exciting, sexy adolescent life. It’s hardly surprising their desires far outstrip their needs, and their abilities.”

A report from the Pew Institute in the US a couple of years ago found that for 81 per cent of 18-25-year-olds, their chief ambition in life was to be rich. For 51 per cent of them, what they most ardently desired was to be famous.

From the Age. Read full article here

Why Girls have BFF and Boys hang in packs

New brain research is showing us why teens act the way that they do. Check out article here


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