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by Carol Johnson

In just a few short years, Generation Y will be the driving force behind the economy, political decisions and the Church.

Generation Y (born 1980-1997) might as well be called “Generation @” because of their technological savvy. Likewise, Generation Xers (born 1965-1979) are just as adept at juggling a conference call while texting their teenage children in between updating a blog and Facebook page.

It’s imperative for church marketers to understand who X’s and Y’s are and how to reach them, or the Church will face being overlooked or ignored. X’s include high-powered execs approaching their peak earning and spending years, attempting to raise content children in a world bombarded by seemingly infinite choices of entertainment. Y’s are teenagers, new parents and college students on the cusp of climbing a career ladder with a virtual ceiling.

One might make the assumption that the younger generations are self-absorbed and saddled with student loans, therefore not interested in building faith communities or spending precious vacation time clothing the needy in faraway places. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. X’s and Y’s are passionate about social justice, have a burning desire to make a difference and donate more time to charitable causes than any other generation in history.

This group is responsible for the dramatic rise in volunteer vacations, spending weeks at a time building shelters for the homeless, preserving the nation’s hiking trails and mentoring at-risk children. The secret: action. X’s and Y’s are interactive givers, seeking transformative opportunities in which to participate, rather than simply writing a check. If the Church expects to draw the younger generations, its leaders must emphasize a missional focus.

There is an undeniable expectation that the Church will be tuned in to popular culture and mainstream media. A new building with flashy lights and loud music will have a short shelf-life without the key ingredient the younger generation is seeking: authenticity. X’s and Y’s are turned off by the illusion of perfection, yet amazingly accepting of mistakes followed by a genuine effort to acknowledge and correct. Get comfortable with transparency, as this group can spot a fake a mile away.

Y’s are apt to question religion and church, but not spirituality and faith. They tend to think outside the box, or outside the Church in this case, preferring to spend Sundays in the local Internet café, rather than in a sanctuary. Their spiritual growth is derived from relationships with those of similar interests. Sharing similar values and passions is so critical to this group that if they fail to find a meaningful local connection fairly easily, they’ll go online to chat rooms, blogs and message boards. A successful method of reaching this generation can be found in small-group ministry.

Reaching Young Adults

Though some prefer not to admit to church marketing, it’s more necessary than ever to connect to the younger crowd. …

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