Seven Keys to Reaching the Next Generation


By Lauren Miers

Reaching the next generation centers on listening up and meeting Generation Z (those born from 2001 to 2018) where they are. On October 14, the Office of Next Generation Ministries hosted its annual Leadership Conference. This year’s day of learning featured Holly Moore from Growing Leaders, a Georgia-based non-profit focused on providing methods for training and mentoring the next generation of leaders. Here are seven takeaways from Moore’s time in Missouri.

Change your listening posture.

Moore says the first step to better communication comes back to the power of listening. What kind of listener are you? Are you a judgemental listener that assumes they know better than the speaker? An impatient listener who has too much to do to listen to what others have to say? Pay attention to your body language and what isn’t being said to be a better communicator.

Good conversations need some SALT.

SALT stands for: Say anything, Ask questions, Listen well and Take your turn. Create an environment where others can speak openly without fear of judgement. Ask questions to clarify that you’re understanding what’s being communicated to you. Employ these fundamentals for better conversation and collaboration, whether it’s with your volunteer team or youth group members.

Embrace different generations and their perspectives.

Moore outlined five generations from baby boomers to generation z and how each generation sees life. Consider the millennial buffet-style perspective - “I’ll have a little of this and a little of that” - and generation Z’s FOMO (fear of missing out) and YOLO (you only live once) mindset. How can you name and recognize these mindsets in your ministry and effectively deliver gospel truth with that in mind?

Play chess, not checkers.

Moore says that chess and checkers essentially have the same board but are played entirely differently. In chess, every piece has a different ability, and it’s a longer game. How can you play chess in your relationships? Build relationships with your youth knowing that each young person has a different personality and learning style as well as different triggers and strengths and weaknesses. Pause, reflect and be an intentional relationship builder.

Good leaders walk a tightrope.

Good leadership demonstrates both strength and sensitivity when appropriate. They walk a tightrope balancing act between being responsive, displaying support and being attentive, and being demanding, establishing standards and providing structure and tough love.

How can you make your ministry EPIC?

Moore says today’s generation is EPIC: Experiential (wants to experience something), Participatory (wants to have a say), Image-rich (visual learners) and Connected. How can you take this acronym and its truths and use it in your planning and visioning?

Be encouraged by the big picture.

Next Generation workers are laying the foundation for children, youth and college-age students across Missouri. Be reminded that though the daily work is hard, the big picture is one of leaders being raised up to know Christ and Wesleyan tradition.