Who Will Care? Whatever.

If parents could eliminate one word from their kids’ vocabulary it might be “whatever.”  Will our kids outgrow this seemingly disdainful disregard? Will they learn to care? Can we teach them to care?

We had a chance to ask Dr. Terri Manning, Associate Vice President for Institutional Research and Assistant to the Executive Vice President at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, and an expert on the topic of Millennials, children born between the early 1980s and early 2000s.

Dr. Manning:
It’s true that Millennials take for granted many of the things that we, Baby Boomers, cared passionately about, but that doesn’t mean they are not passionate about issues like ridding the world of prejudice—they care about that.

Some estimate that as many as 25% of millennial children have at least one parent from another country. Many have pen pals around the world. So while the world seemed big to us, it seems small to them. They were raised with a sense of fairness and therefore really believe all men are created equal and that we should not judge people based on race, gender, and religion.

Cokesbury Commons:
Then they may very well be extremely supportive of church mission work and giving to others. What will trigger this support?

Dr. Manning:
They are definitely “hands on.” They got involved in community service as kids and would rather work at the soup kitchen or build a Habitat Home than write a check to United Way.

Tell them the purpose of the mission at the forefront and let them know why it’s important—what happens if they don’t deal with this issue.

Include a social media person in the planning—someone who knows the best way to communicate and consider a different method of delivery. Not necessarily a different message but a different way of engaging members.

Cokesbury Commons:
So what can churches to do now to prepare for this new kind of church?

Dr. Manning:
A church today would be wise to conduct some focus groups with both their Gen X and Millennial members and talk about things like attracting new members, the layout of the services, the best way to educate members, how the church can use technology, etc.

They have been consulted by adults their entire life. They have been allowed to be involved in family decisions so this would seem totally normal to them—plus they love giving input into things. If you liken the way a church deals with its members to how schools deal with students—we have a lot to learn.

Cokesbury Commons:
And what trends are you seeing in education?

Dr. Manning:
“Flipping classrooms.” The teacher creates video lectures and places them on YouTube or the university’s server. Students are told which videos to watch and are instructed to bring notes to the next class. Then they can spend the entire class in “hands on” activities. It has proven to be a far superior method of teaching, especially with some subjects.

I wonder what would happen if the preacher sent all church members articles and information about the subject of the sermon before Sunday. Then spent the first 20 minutes of the service in discussion with the congregation.

Dr. Manning received her doctorate in Higher Education from Oklahoma State University. She was a graduate faculty member at Tulsa Community College, Oklahoma State University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte prior to accepting her current position at Central Piedmont Community College in 1998.  She has consulted with multiple colleges on institutional effectiveness and serves on visiting teams for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. To date, she has made 90 keynote presentations at national meetings, colleges, and local businesses. For more information on Dr. Manning’s research on the Millennial generation, visit her website at http://www.cpcc.edu/millennial.