Why is my daughter drifting from God? Why can’t I explain my life choices to my parents? When will my son get a real job?
Within the last several decades, the world has shifted dramatically. The cracks of this fundamental shift appear everywhere: in our economy, in our cultural debates, in our political landscape, and, most important, in our churches. The problem is we tend to overreact to these changes, fearing that Christianity is dying. We need better Generational IQ, so we can respond to the changes but not be terrified by them. We need a wise generational coach. Haydn Shaw is that generational expert, showing us the roots of this generational shift and how it affects every one of us. Each generation, whether it’s the aging Boomers or the young Millennials, approaches God with a different set of questions and needs based on the times in which they grew up. Haydn walks you through these generational differences and paints a vision of hope for the future.
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Christianity Isn't Dying, Millennials Aren't the Problem, and the Future is Bright
By HAYDN SHAW, Ginger Kolbaba, Jonathan Schindler
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Haydn Shaw
All rights reserved.
Turning On the Lights
* * *
"Haydn, I can't see out of my right eye."
My wife, Laurie, and I were traveling home from my company's holiday party, and we were still an hour away.
"What do you mean you can't see?" I asked, fighting the temptation to take my eyes off the road and stare at her.
"It wasn't so noticeable at the party," she said, "but now that we're on the interstate, it seems like I'm peering through thick steam."
"So it didn't happen just now — it was bothering you at the party?" I confirmed, relieved that my forty-nine-year-old wife probably hadn't had a stroke. "Why don't you look it up on your phone and see what's going on?"
"Haydn," she said patiently, "I can't see."
I pulled over to the shoulder, put on the hazards, and spent the next seven or eight minutes scrambling over the Internet on my phone so we could decide whether we needed to race to the nearest emergency room. Cancer stared at me from every website.
If you've ever looked up medical symptoms on the Internet, you know how the possibilities are a mix of the horrifying and the ordinary. I read the list to Laurie:
> Brain tumor
> Eye tumor
> Macular degeneration (which had taken her mother's eyesight at sixty-two)
> Retinal detachment
> Ocular migraine
I thought this was an ominous list, but to my surprise, she said, "I wonder if it's allergies."
"To this sweater. I just bought it today for the party, and I've never worn angora before."
She decided to go home, remove the sweater, and take some Benadryl to see if that helped. Ten minutes after doing this, she couldn't see any better, so we went to the emergency room. Often there's a long wait, but since she suddenly couldn't see out of one eye, they were worried about stroke and took her straight to a CAT scan.
By the time she got back from the CAT scan, her vision was almost completely clear.
Within an hour, the emergency room doctors concluded from a clear CAT scan and dissipated symptoms that it was allergies and sent us home.
I'm happy to report that Laurie has had no other problems, because that was her first and only experience wearing an angora blend. With the emergency room cost added in, we joke that the angora sweater was the most expensive she'll ever wear. But we were happy to pay for the doctors and the test because we had no way of knowing which of the possible Internet diagnoses was right. We didn't have the information, the training, or the know-how to interpret all the frightening reports we found to tell us about Laurie's problem.
A Frightening Diagnosis
Many of us are in a similar situation with our families, friends, and churches. We see the United States and Canada becoming less Christian, and many of us long for the good old days. We hear that in three generations Christianity will all but disappear unless something radically changes. We hear that 88 percent of young people have sex before they marry and that the statistics for Christian young people aren't much different. We see hundreds of news reports that for the first time, people who claim no religious affiliation, the "Nones," make up as much as 23 percent of our population. Even more frightening, we hear that the Millennial generation is the biggest part of the "Nones"; they are leaving church and aren't coming back.
Like my wife and me with her vision loss, we recognize that there are problems. We may even panic about the problems, and then when we see books or news stories about them or do our own investigations on the Internet, we panic even more. We ask ourselves and our friends questions like these (if we bring them up at all):
> Is Christianity really going to be dead in three generations?
> Why is my twentysomething still living in the basement?
> Is it even possible for young people to save sex for marriage when they don't marry until age twenty-eight?
> How do I pass on my faith to my children when they don't respond to the things I find most meaningful about it?
> What can I do now that my child is walking away from the faith?
> What do I say to people who claim they're spiritual but not religious?
> Why won't the younger generations come to our church?
> How does our church keep both the youngest and the oldest generations happy?
> How do I help my church figure out what to do with retirees like me who have real skills and want to do more than fold bulletins?
All of these problems share one thing in common: they are rooted in generational differences. Yet we often don't know enough about the problem to know how big of a deal it is or what to do about it. We don't know whether, as with my wife's allergic reaction, the solution is as simple as returning a sweater or whether we will struggle with it for the rest of our lives. We need intelligence to help us sort fact from terrifying fiction.
That's where Generational IQ comes in.
I've been providing generational intelligence reports to individuals, businesses, the government, churches, and other organizations for twenty years, helping them make sense of the generations: Traditionalists (born before 1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964), Generation Xers (born 1965–1980), and Millennials (born 1981–2001). I've pored over countless studies and interviewed people from each generation, but I've learned the most from interacting with thousands of people in classes and speeches each year. That research allows me to advise my clients (and friends) which generational challenges are important and which ones are no big deal.
But it's not only when I speak at churches that the questions I listed above come up. When I speak in the marketplace, people of faith come to me after the presentations with their worries. They realize after being introduced to generational research that it can help us understand and answer all of them, yet many of these people lack the tools or experience to wisely diagnose what's happening in their relationships. We're making these issues harder than they need to be because we don't have the time to study all of the generational research and sort through the nuances of the data until we can draw balanced, thoughtful conclusions.
It's like the employee who has been at your workplace almost six months and still gets overwhelmed looking at his e-mail. He doesn't know whose e-mail matters and whose he can safely ignore. Or like medical researchers who must sort through millions of bits of data to find why some people can lose weight easily and others struggle for every half pound. Or like our country's intelligence community sorting through the "noise" of thousands of rumors to find the one terror cell that plans to blow up a marathon. Finding the relevant information in a sea of data requires more than just facts. We are drowning in facts; what we need is intelligence.
Close to Home
In my previous book, Sticking Points, I tackled generational tensions in the workplace. I wrote Generational IQ so I could bring people of faith the same help I've brought to businesses, because if we don't have generational intelligence, we overreact to the small things, ignore the big things, and do the wrong things, making our relationships worse. From what I've observed, people of faith overreact to generational differences even more than businesspeople do. And understandably so. The reason is that the people we worry about aren't just employees. They are our children, our friends, and our church members. Or we worry about our faith itself.
That's why we need generational intelligence, and we need it now. The questions I listed earlier (and others like them) keep Christians up at night because they hit us in the heart. The more we read about them in the news or online, the more frightened we get. It's like we're watching one of those scary movies where the girl heads into the dark basement, and we know the bad guy is there, and the ominous music reminds us that the bad guy is there, and we're yelling at the screen, "No! Don't go down there! Run away!" (I've always wondered why she never turns on a light.) It's as though we see our families and communities going down into that basement, and we feel just as helpless as we do watching the movie. We're left yelling, "No! Don't go down there! What's wrong with you?"
My aim in Generational IQ is to bring the best of generational research close to home, to help you find a way to dispel generational tensions in the relationships that are closest to you. I also want to shed light on the outright mistakes, hearsay, and distortions — as well as the actual facts — in the dismal reports I mentioned above. I'm worried about some of these same things — the future could be bleak — but right now, despite what you've heard, Christianity isn't dying, Millennials aren't the problem in your family or your church, and the future really is bright if people of faith start learning generational intelligence.
The best research, combined with understanding the big mental shifts over the last eighty years, will help everyday Christians get startlingly smarter in dealing with the things that scare them about their faith, family, friends, and church. If we don't get smarter in dealing with generational issues, I'm afraid. I'm very afraid.
Generational tensions and problems aren't going away anytime soon. We may be tempted to ask, "Why can't we go back to the way things were?" Like the young woman going forward into the dark basement, we can't go back. But we can turn on the lights.
Excerpted from Generational IQ by HAYDN SHAW, Ginger Kolbaba, Jonathan Schindler. Copyright © 2015 Haydn Shaw. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Turning on the Lights 1
Chapter 2 Generational Intelligence 9
Part 1 How When You Were Born Affects Your Relationship with God
Chapter 3 Traditionalists (Born before 1945) 25
Chapter 4 Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964) 43
Chapter 5 Generation X (Born 1965-1980) 63
Chapter 6 Millennials (Born 1981-2001) 81
Part 2 Friends and Family
Chapter 7 What Do I Say to Friends Who Claim, "I'm Spiritual but Not Religious"? 103
Chapter 8 When Will My Twentysomething Move out of the Basement? 121
Chapter 9 How Do I Reach My Twentysomething Who is Drifting from God? 139
Chapter 10 What Do I Do When My Kid Is Putting Off Marriage but Not Sex? 155
Part 3 Church
Chapter 11 Will Christianity Really Disappear in Three Generations? 175
Chapter 12 Why Won't younger People Come to My Church? 197
Chapter 13 What Am I Supposed to Do Now That It Doesn't Feel like My Church Anymore? 217
Part 4 Why We Need Each Other
Chapter 14 The Ultimate Generational Intelligence 237
Discussion Guide 253
Sticking Points sample chapter 277
What People are Saying About This
Haydn Shaw will provide you with the intellectual framework necessary to tackle the communication gap between the generations. Timely!
Get unstuck from the ineffective rigidity of “the way we’ve always done it.” Find the right questions that will unlock your future. In this book, Haydn Shaw sets a new standard of excellence, coining terms that will become the grist for conversations about dealing with generational issues for decades to come.
Thought provoking! I repeatedly found myself nodding, “Ah, now that makes sense.”
Packed with what every parent and leader needs to know about the generations! Haydn Shaw shows in this re-freshing book that Millennials are not the godless heathens, intent on destroying American culture, that they are often painted to be. A must-read!