Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cellular Generationalism

I have begun to read Thom and Jess Rainers’ book The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation and while all of the book has been interesting to this point, one particular stat made me laugh. On p. 44 Jess writes, “The two most common forms of communication for Millennials are talking and texting on a cell phone. This explains why most Millennials say their cell phone is vital…The most accessible way to reach a Millennial is by text.” I am on the outside edge of the Millennial generation but like to consider myself one because it makes me feel more trendy and youthful but there are definitely some big differences between me and Millennials. These differences became very evident for me at a meeting about a year ago.

I was meeting with a group of Millennials for a strategy planning session for a new worship service we were starting at our church. The worship service was being designed to reach the Millennial generation and thus we valued the opinions of this group of people. Our group contained several Millennials, one Gen. Xer (me) and a Baby Boomer. Once everyone gathered for our meeting, our generational differences became very apparent. The Baby Boomer arrived with leather planner, pen, and paper in hand prepared to work through the carefully planned agenda we had established at a previous meeting. His cell phone was switched to silent or off and placed in his bag. As the main speaker and token Gen Xer, I arrived with my laptop and powerpoint presentation in hand, prepared to work through the agenda but able to follow wherever the brainstorming took us. My phone was switched to vibrate to accept emergency calls but no emails would come through because they wouldn’t be emergencies and shoved into my pocket. Finally, we have the Millennials. They showed up with Ipads, netbooks, Iphones, and blackberrys. No pens, pencils, or paper could be found among them. They tolerated the agenda and powerpoint but really blossomed when the presentation style became more relational over coffee and cookies. Their phones/electronic devices were set to vibrate and placed on the table where they could see them.

The Baby Boomer never looked at his phone once. Mine, Gen Xer, vibrated once but was not an emergency so I did not answer it. The Millennials were texting, emailing, sharing photos etc. throughout the entire meeting! It was perfectly acceptable for one to disengage from the meeting in order to reply to a text or email regarding an entirely different matter.

I remember looking around at the three different generations of people we had recruited to plan this ministry and laughed at how different we were and yet somehow God still brings us together for great things! Praise God for our differences that make us unique and the similarity we have in Jesus Christ!

Paul said, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Phil. 2:1-8

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