What's in this session?

  • The tweet that sparked this episode (0:21)
  • Publicly insulting a generation of young people that is attending church at historically low numbers won’t help you reach them (1:36)
  • Millennials need a champion (2:50)
  • Every generation has their strengths & weaknesses (3:06)
  • Take Brady as an example (3:34)

Show notes and resources

Free Bonus: Click here to download The Perfect Church Homepage Infographic – a complete visual breakdown of the essential elements that every church website homepage needs

The Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less, you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills. I’m joined, as always, by the boss man. It’s Brady Shearer, and today, we’re gonna talk about the signature way that churches alienate millennials and Gen Z.

Brady Shearer: Over the weekend, I was going through my Twitter feed and I came across a Tweet from a verified pastor on Twitter that really stood out to me, not so much anything to do with this pastor in particular. I was not familiar with him, or his church, or his work, but he had a significant sized platform, verified on Twitter.

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: That’s something, and the thought behind what he was Tweeting is something that I continue to see again and again in our churches. Here is a direct quote from the Tweet. It said, “This angry generation that says they’re going to start a revolution should really learn to start a lawnmower first.” This is in response to a number of the things that are happening in North America right now. But again, this is not a new or uncommon line of thinking within our churches. I get messages all the time, on Instagram usually, because it’s very Millennial focused for our audience. I’ve seen videos from people within Pro Church Nation sending them through to me, their pastor from stage criticizing and insulting young people.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: This is the signature way the churches are alienating both Millennials and the generation to follow, Gen Z, which is kind of just hitting that 17, 18, 19 year old mark right now. What they do is they insult young people.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I’m not here to tell you, if you are an older senior leader, you know, the average lead pastor in the protestant world is about 55 years old, and so if you are that age, I’m not here to tell you that Generation Z or Millennials are perfect.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: I’m not here to tell you that we do not have our flaws, weaknesses. What I am here to tell you is that essentially there’s a choice that every leader needs to make within the church. You can either be a champion of young people or you can choose to degrade them.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: What you can’t do is choose to insult and degrade young people, and then still expect to reach them. You cannot have both.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: That is the, I guess fundamental choice that so many of us need to make. Now, again, that doesn’t mean that you can’t correct, when correction is needed, but there is a very clear line. I’m not here to say that this is like, “Well, this is a tough line to walk.” There’s a clear line between being insulting and being corrective.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You can’t have one without relationship, whereas the other, you can spout off on Twitter whenever you want.

Alex Mills: Of course.

Brady Shearer: This is something that I saw in a response to my response to this Tweet that came in from a member of Pro Church Nation that stood out to me. Essentially, this individual was saying, “I keep hearing this again and again, and I believe this now more than I ever had. What Millennials need is not someone to tell them what they’re doing wrong. They need a champion.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I think that this is, to give a great example of this, because again, no generation is without their strengths and weaknesses.

Alex Mills: Of course.

Brady Shearer: I’m not here to say that young people are better than anyone else, because that would be just ignorant and naïve to suggest that. What I am here to say is that with every strength and weakness, whether it be with an individual or with a generation, it’s kind of a yin and a yang. There’s order to it and there’s chaos to it. The best people, the best leaders know how to draw out the best in someone, accenting their strengths …

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: … while minimizing their weaknesses. To give an example of this I will use myself.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: I, Brady, am an extremely obsessive individual.

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: It may come as a shock. That obsessiveness can go in one of two directions, as it frequently does.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: The good side of this obsessiveness is that when championed, that obsessiveness can be channeled, and that’s what makes me such a high achiever.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Because you can take this intense attention to detail, you can take this intense drive, and you can channel in a way that allows me to accomplish much more than, let’s say the average person, because I’m so driven and so obsessed that nothing will stop me from accomplishing that goal.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: On the flip side, this obsessiveness, when in its worst form, can turn into manic behavior. I can become obsessed about the wrong things, you know? It’s very addictive leaning. It can become this endless cycle where, you know, you just eat, and you eat, and you eat, or you do something that you don’t want to be doing, and you’re just so upset with yourself, because you expect a different behavior. Then it become this, you know, this terrible cycle where then you’re upset at what you’re doing, so that you do it more. Then you get more upset. This is an example in an individual. The same is true of generations.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Because we all have similar character traits. Just like everyone in the ’70s had mullets, and just like everyone now has man buns.

Alex Mills: Everyone.

Brady Shearer: Or beards, you know? Those are physical traits so many of us share. More importantly, there are many character traits that we share, because we all grew up in a similar time and place.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: At the end of the day, senior leader, you don’t have to agree with Millennials. You don’t have to think that we are going to change the world. You don’t even have to love us, necessarily. Individually you should, but on a grand level …

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: … you might just be like, “Man, there are so many things that these kids do that upset me,” but if you cannot get over insulting publicly, and again, this is not uncommon, if you can’t get past there, you’re never going to be able to reach young people we need a champion. We don’t need an insulter.

Alex Mills: Look, man, like, I’ve never understood this, and like, even outside of the church, you know Millennials are kind of known as this entitled generation. That’s a label we get put on ourselves. But inside the church, I feel like I hear that even more than I do outside the church. Maybe it’s just because of like, the echo chamber of church communicators I have on my social feeds. But inside the church, I’ve just, I’ve never understood how and why leaders speak about this generation the way that they do. I’m not saying that because I’m part of this generation. I think I’m saying it because I’m a church leader, and I’m a follower of Christ, and some of the language that’s used about this generation from church leaders is, it just seems so like, antithetical and even like antichrist to me.

It’s our duty, it’s our calling as fathers and mothers to like, just like you would with your own children, you know, to call out the best in them, and help them, help walk through the weakness with them. The language and just the disposition towards this generation from church leaders has just been so staggering to me. I don’t understand where it comes from. I don’t know if older generations maybe feel threatened by the size of our generation or kind of like the activist spirit about us. You know, we’re not afraid to speak up, and hold a sign, or walk out of school, or whatever it is. I’m not sure if we’re offensive, but for some reason, they’ve just taken … It seems like this position has been taken more often than not, to, like you said, just focus on our weaknesses and speak out about those, and not choose to call out the greatness in us.

I feel like if leaders would take the opportunity to do that for us, to look at us and say, “Yeah, of course these kids have their deficiencies,” but to look inside of who we are and what we value, and call out the greatness in us, then our generation, the biggest generation living on earth right now, could actually do something great. You know, a lot of us believe that we can change the world and maybe if the greatness was called out in us, we’d be empowered to do so, and something really great could happen, and maybe it could start with the church.

Brady Shearer: We’ve talked about personal responsibility and so, I don’t want to undermine that at all, but it is interesting to think that the average lead pastor would be about the age of a parent of a Millennial. I’m imagining, my daughter’s just turned three, when she’s 19, if I look at her as a 45 year old or a 40 year old and say, “You are just such a bad person and the number of things that you do are just so offensive, like, be better!” What kind of parent are you? Call out something in your kid. They’re 19, of course they don’t have everything right!

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Do you think these kids that got shot at and are now being thrust into the public spotlight, do not think, like of all the negative ways that, that’s probably affecting them, they probably shouldn’t be the ones that are needing to do this. Of course, they’re going to say things that are wrong. They’re 19!

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I’m 27 in a week. You know how many things that I do wrong? Most things! I need older leaders to look at me and be like, “You do so many stupid things, but we see the great things that you do, and we want more of that …

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: … and because we’ve been there, we’re going to take the responsibility to lead you there as well.”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: What’s unfortunate, is that the older generation will look down on us often, and say, “You know what? You’ve got to prove it to us.” Then when we do great things, they’re like, “Yeah, but what about all the stupid things?”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Look, again, I’m not here to say anything bad about older generations, because I think Millennials do that as well, and we need to take personal responsibility for when we look to those that are older than us and be like, “Look at what the world they left us.”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: “Of course we need to clean it up after they did.” You know, that’s equally bad.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: The only reason that we’re talking about this from the top down, is because Millennials aren’t in power.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: The average lead pastor is 55. There’s only so much that we can do leading from the bottom up, and so, at the end of the day, going in both directions, you can choose to champion, and we can choose to champion one another and call out, I like that phrasing that you used, call out the greatness in one another, or we can choose to insult one another.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I think it takes a very insecure leader to look down on essentially children and to say, “You know what? You’re all a disgrace.” Only an extremely threatened and insecure leader could say that about others, peers, those older than them. When you do it towards those younger, it’s an even worse look.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Let’s be better than that.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and we want to lead. This generation is eager to have something of their own, and lead it, and take it by the reigns, and try and change the world. We’re never going to be able to do that successfully if our leaders aren’t teaching us how to lead, you know?

Brady Shearer: What he’s saying, look, we don’t know everything. We need you.

Alex Mills: Yeah. If we’re not being led by a good example, we’re just … it’s just going to create, just this cyclical behavior of failure, because we’re not going to know how to do it ourselves when our time comes. Anyways …

Brady Shearer: Well, that’ll do it for today’s episode.

Alex Mills: Yeah. We could keep talking but we shouldn’t, because it’s in 10 minutes or less.

Brady Shearer: Well, not today though. Well, this fell off the rails.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: See you tomorrow.

EXPAND +
CLOSE -

Comments

See what other people have said, and leave your own thoughts!

EXPAND +
CLOSE -
Up Next
Help! My Pastor Keeps Interfering With The Creative Ministry
Watch Video