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On Friday, I had the opportunity to sit in a room with 20 family ministry leaders and listen to Tim Elmore share his heart for Generation iY. He wrote the book this past year in response to the growing changes he has seen in the later half of Generation Y. He gives an informed, realistic, and hopeful picture for how we as parents, leaders, and Christians can respond to the trends and turn this generation around for the better.

He opened his talk comparing the six generations that currently live together on planet earth. This is an unprecedented phenomenon in modern history. From Builders to Generation Y, each is going to see the world differently. Tim presented an illustration that gave such clarity to how these different generations perceive reality.

Birthdays are always a special time in the life of a family. Each generation responded differently to a simple part of birthdays: the cake.

Seniors (Born 1900-1928) – MADE a birthday cake from scratch with sugar. In a commodity driven society, this was special for each child.

Builders (Born 1929-1945) – They still made the birthday cake, yet Builders used a boxed cake mix. Builders grew up in the heart of the industrial age, surviving the Great Depression. They worked hard building to make life easier.

Boomers (Born 1946-1964) – By this point, we’d transitions into a service society. Boomers had cakes bought for them. They had their oil changed, their clothes dried cleaned, and their milk delivered.

Busters/Xers (Born 1964 – 1983) – Kids wanted an experience. Parents buy the cake, but they also take their kids to places like Chuck E. Cheese where the child can have cake in an exciting environment.

Generation Y (Born 1984 – 2002) – Kids don’t just want and experience, they want to be transformed into something bigger and better than their own life. Birthday parties consist of make-overs to beauty queens and superheroes.

We’re faced with a generation that is bent on being amazing. The reality is something different. They’re easily bored. They give up too easily. They spend most of the day looking at a screen or waiting for their next message to come in. I realize that this is all a gross generalization; on the other hand generalizations are at least somewhat true.

Overwhelmed with 1 in 10 having contemplated suicide

Over-Protected with parents acting as agents and personal assistants

Over-serviced with an easy life where the finer things in life are at their fingertips

Over-connected with access to the Internet, email, text messages, 24/7.

This is the generation we serve. This generation requires something different from us.

The “what” stays the same; the “how” needs to change.

As I sat around the table with 20 leaders, we thought about how we can take use the cultural norms to our advantage. We brainstormed ideas and thought through their ramifications. Some were bad, but hopefully they were the bad ideas that lead to the great ones. All weekend I’ve been thinking through that discussion and finding patterns that I can use in our own ministry at Ada.

This week, we’ll look at the how we can best minister to this generation while remaining firm on sharing the timeless truths of Scripture. I’ll look at examples of organizations doing it well and see how we can make strides towards reaching this. I may ask more questions than give solutions, but this is where the power of the kidmin and stumin communities comes into play. We all need to tackle these questions if we’re going to effectively reach the next generation for Jesus.

So, right off the bat – give me your questions? Let’s get the discussion going! What are you discovering about Generation Y? Where can we help each other?

For more on Tim Elmore’s book click here: Generation iY

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