Notes from James Lawrence on how can we work well together across the generations?

[nb James caveats the teaching in the introduction with observation that these generalisations are descriptive not absolute] 

 GEN Y: born c. 1980-2000. A generation who have in many cases been praised relentlessly in their upbringing, grown up consumerist, and digital native. Also called ‘Echo boomers’ can be much more conservative than their Gen X predecessors.  Many have been told they can change the world but don’t see how  repetitive, mundane jobs change the world over time. Feel the need to be in on the action and decision making early on and are instinctively anti-hierarchical, pro-network. Can be the hardest workers of any generation if galvanised and released. Looking for purpose. Feedback hungry. 

(See video at end of this blog for a Gen Y response). 

How can we let passages like 1 Peter 5 form leaders not imitating the pattern of the world around them? 

1 Peter 5:1-5 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Helping Christian Leaders
5 Church leaders,[a] I am writing to encourage you. I too am a leader, as well as a witness to Christ’s suffering, and I will share in his glory when it is shown to us.
2 Just as shepherds watch over their sheep, you must watch over everyone God has placed in your care. Do it willingly in order to please God, and not simply because you think you must. Let it be something you want to do, instead of something you do merely to make money. 3 Don’t be bossy to those people who are in your care, but set an example for them. 4 Then when Christ the Chief Shepherd returns, you will be given a crown that will never lose its glory. 5 All of you young people should obey your elders. In fact, everyone should be humble toward everyone else. The Scriptures say, “God opposes proud people, but he helps everyone who is humble.” 

Footnotes:5.1 Church leaders: Or “Elders” or “Presbyters” or “Priests.”

How do you spot a Christian leader? 

Not who is following them but who are they following: 

How do you avoid a model of ministry and priesthood that is contractual?

Gen Y have been brought up with assessment etc and a contractual mindset. This does not work for much ministry. 

Historically we hold on to:

  1. Day of rest not a day off. 
  2. Work from a study not from an office. 
  3. Covenantal role not contracted. 
  4. Stipend not salary. 

Early church: 

  1. Service with authority. Servantlike in authority and authoritive in service. 
  2. Vocation for leadership. The church family discerns this not just the individual. 
  3. Difficulty and delight. The demands are nothing new but the early church knew that priorities of scripture and prayer cannot be sidelined. 
  4. Spirituality for leadership. Don’t lose connection with the love of the Father. 

Stephen Croft. Go down the mine and get into the deep traditions of the early church. Read the ancient wisdom of the fathers. 

Agreeing Good Boundaries:

Not fixed or fluid but firm and flexible 

  • Gen Y tend to be over boundaried.
  • Boomers underboundaried. 

Generations are impacted by cultural context of their early years. Some embrace it like a blanket some turn from it. 


Helicopter parents, reaction to latch key Gen X. Now we have parents who go to university visits & have seminars, 20 years ago they might have take them to train. Now daily contact on phones. 

Some firms now running training for parents to get them out of the way: parent on army recruitment visit wanting to check the bed is comfortable 

Also the for some it is the overpraised generation. See Glyn  Harrison.  Praised Not because you’ve achieved but just because. This mentality fuels entitlement. 

(Others have had absence of such affirmation. Mental illness levels are sky rocketing. Suicide among Gen Y men largest group of suicides). 

Want mentors and feedback. 

Emotionally empathetic. Connect deeply. Short on patience. Movement orientated. Want to make a difference. Believe in the possibility of change (although younger ones less so). Entertainment driven. Far higher kinesthetic learning style preference. Choice rules (over commitment). This has both strengths and weaknesses. Happy midi-narrative (today and tomorrow) is key for them. Macro narrative less interesting 🙂 want to make a difference- NOW! Love authenticity which is measured through vulnerability / need this modelled by their leaders. 

Boomers Concerns for Millenials/Gen X

  1. Consumerism – if dominant philosophy leads instant gratification. Where does long-term, ploddingness come in?
  2. Celebrity – heros (known for strengths) have been replaced by celebrities (often known for doing things wrong). If lots of Gods work is unseen, unknown and unglamorous how do you cope when not on the stage
  3. Leadership is in vocabulary: know language of leadership ‘I AM a leader’ but naive about cost and sacrifice following a crucified saviour. 
  4. CHARACTER. In NT often comes out of suffering and trial. But many have been protected from this so what does that mean for character development esp among Gen Y (male) twenty somethings stuck in ‘kidulthood’ /// vs others carrying huge baggage from childhood pain and suffering. (A ‘class’/background divide exists). 

New Victorians 

Some younger Gen Y / Gen Z increasingly reacting against shallowness and are serious, driven towards healthy living, less alcohol, drugs, running apps, focus on how you look – healthy etc. Living under educational demands and uncertain job prospects. 

Visual / me in the visual 

Rise of vlogging & recording life – but with gap between reality and presented reality. 

Can see so many things. Availablity of videos on various experiences means people might try things 

Community as an event not an ongoing commitment – e.g. Selfies at a football match: look at me at the event / in community – harder to get people on ongoing courses than at a festival 🙂 – tip: try a marathon discipleship event? 


So prevalent. How many people feel unable to  enter Christian work due to this (both men and women). Massive issue among all levels of Christian leadership now and at this moment. Cf very helpful resources from Paula Hull NAKED TRUTH PROJECT

Rise of ‘self- pornography’ / sexting. 

Means in real life the issues teens/twenties face include discrimination & harassment we thought we might have got rid of. 

Leading across the generations 

some of the leadership shifts. gen y often on the right
  1. Boundaries: Gen Y can be over boundaried
  2. Social Media: help understand what’s appropriate to post and setting expectations in a meeting. 
  3. Learning presences. Statistically more likely to go kinaesthetic- not just audio! Also need fun in learning. 
  4. Team. Means different things! Gen Y not boundaried about this – want it to be an ongoing whole life fun, community thing… boomer might see team as simply a collaborative staff meeting. 
  5. Contribution – from day one. How you introduce makes a huge difference. Enough rope to trip but not to hang themselves. 
  6. Feedback –  do we do it well for feedback hungry generation? ASK Qs: 1)What is the way you best receive feedback – give options: immediate/ later; written/spoken; four positives and one negative/go for jugular  – most people give in the ways they like to receive not how the other needs it! 2) what does bad feedback look like. 
  7. Speed. Where can they help older team speed up? Where can older help them slow down?