There will soon be a paradigm shift as millennials begin stepping into leadership roles in every organization including churches. Many of us currently in church leadership were trained to manage organizations. Millennials will not be content to manage. They want to lead. They want to make a difference.
According to a study reported in a U.S. News and World Report 2015 article, 91 percent of millennials aspire to be leaders. Sixty-one percent of these aspiring leaders "want to challenge and inspire their followers with a sense of purpose and excitement." This is exciting as we continue to lament the lack of true leadership in many of our churches. At the same time, many currently attending church are pretty comfortable with the status quo. Although many claim they want to see new things happen in their churches, many do not react very well when they are challenged to do new things. It will be interesting to see how this will play out.
These leaders are impatient. They are the generation that was raised to expect instant gratification. They also seek to collaborate with others. They like consensus, and we know that it's not always easy to achieve consensus in many of our churches. We definitely know that churches, and especially smaller churches, do not make quick decisions when it involves change. Again, it will be interesting to see how millennial leaders deal with the realities of working in many of our existing churches.
Millennials are also not real excited about preparation. As one millennial leader put it: We like playing in the game, but we hate practice. You can read the entire article here that looks at this in more detail.
When I read this article I immediately thought about a Facebook post I responded to yesterday. A church consultant discussed a growing trend he's noticed. Many of the churches today who contact him seeking his help in finding new pastoral leadership no longer ask about what seminary the potential candidates might have attended or indicate that a seminary education is even required.
On the one hand I am not surprised. Smaller churches in particular have been more interested in whether or not the person can do the job than if they've earned a particular degree. Based on my FB friend's experience, some larger churches are now in that camp as well. If the article above is true, and I believe it is, this will fit in well with the millennial mindset.
On the other hand, I am concerned about the future of the church if we completely discount theological and ministerial education. A good leader can grow a church, but what kind of church will it be if it lacks sound doctrine? I'm excited about the passion that millennial leaders often have, but I also want them to be solid in their understanding of Scriptural truths and be able to present these truths to those who sit under their teaching.
There is no doubt the church is going through a transition right now, and I don't think anyone at this stage really understands what the church will look like when it comes through the transition. I do believe it will look much different than it does today. I also believe that we will see many churches coming through this transition with millennial leaders as their pastors, and I believe that will be a good thing. I just pray that sound doctrine and theology are not lost in the transition. If it is, whatever comes through will no longer be the church.