Today’s Generation of Youth
Those who provide ministry for and with youth have spent much energy and study trying to understand this generation that we call the “Millennials.” The Millennials are the most-researched generation in history. We know what makes them tick. We know what draws them in and drives them forward. Many of our youth ministries, including camping, provide experiences and opportunities that hit the sweet spot of everything that a Millennial wants. So why is it that participation in youth ministries like camping has been in a steady decline over the past ten to fifteen years?
One of the many big factors in this phenomenon is the fact that the Millennials who we have been working so hard to market to are no longer youth. The Millennial generation, aging from 20 to 37 years old, has reached adulthood and are becoming our adult staff and camper parents. The new demographic of Generation Z, ages 19 and under, are today’s youth. And there is a large difference between the attitudes, goals, and culture of Millennials and Generation Z. Check out this infographic by Sparks & Honey, from Marketo Blog, which highlights some features of this new generation and their views of the world.
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As camping leaders it is important to understand what drives, motivates, and inspires each generation because although an outsider may think that we serve mainly youth, we know that our constituents don’t stop with the youth who participate in our programs. We also have to market to parents, partner with clergy, inspire volunteers, and connect with alumni. Some deeper generational understanding might just be the key to effectively reaching new people in ministry.
Jessica Gamaché currently serves the church through her position as Camping Coordinator in the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference. She was inspired to share this infographic and reflections with the UMCRM community. We hope you’ll share the articles, books, and resources that are inspiring and challenging you in your ministry, as well. Email any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.