Separating Myth From Truth in the Generations

Jason Dorsey

A researcher who specializes in the differences between generations took the stage at the Global Leadership Summit 2019 and said that the Millennial generation is splitting into two groups. One group elicits the typical stereotypes many think of with Millennials: entitled, lazy, tech-dependent, etc. However, the other group of Millennials is just as disappointed with the first group as the rest of the generations are. This is the group Jason Dorsey of The Center for Generational Kinetics calls Mega-llennials and they are good people, he assures us. 

If you work in a church, chances are you have some Millennials on the staff of that church. Chances are you may have even raised a Millennial yourself. Whether you are a baby boomer, a Gen Xer, a Millennial, or a Gen Zer, Dorsey would like all of us to cling to this truth: “Every single generation brings something important and every generation can lead.” 

Considering the multi-generational nature of the Church, this is good news. But it would behoove all of us to understand one another a little better. This is the goal of Dorsey’s organization, The Center for Generational Kinetics: to separate the myth from truth when it comes to generations. Dorsey says his organization does this by conducting primary-source research and sharing their findings with businesses and other organizations in which various generations need to work together.

What Shapes a Generation?

First of all, Dorsey explained there are three things that shape a generation: Parenting, technology, and geography (specifically urban vs. rural settings). In other words, Dorsey implies in a joking manner, if anyone is upset at the way Millennials turned out, they should point the finger at that generation’s parents. 

Gen Z is the most consistent generation around the world (meaning a Gen Zer in India has more in common with a Gen Zer in the U.S. than a Millennial from India has with a Millennial from U.S.) because of the ubiquity of technology these days. 

Events also shape generations. For instance, the youngest Millennials were born in 1995 or 1996 because a defining characteristic of the generation is that they remember the tragedy of 9/11. 

How Well Do You Know Millennials?

Dorsey spent the majority of his time speaking about Millennials because they currently represent the largest generation in the workforce. Some other characteristics he mentioned are as follows:

They are experiencing delayed adulthood, doing things like getting married, having children, and buying houses later than previous generations did.

The generation is splitting into two categories, what Dorsey refers to as me-llennials and mega-llennials. Dorsey explains that by 30, Millennials take one of two paths. As previously mentioned, mega-llennials are the ones who show up for work and generally do what they are told to do. Typically, mega-llennials went to college, they got jobs, and they are contributing to society in a positive way. Me-llennials on the other hand, are the “late bloomers” of the bunch and typically gravitate toward those negative stereotypes we might think of. 

Millennials are not necessarily tech-savvy, rather they are tech-dependent. The example Dorsey gave was about Millennials being handed a physical map but feeling more comfortable with a phone’s navigation app that can dynamically walk them through to their destination. 

How Do Millennials Compare to Other Generations?

Dorsey spent a brief amount of time on the three other generations you might see in a typical work environment. His observations on these groups are as follows:

Gen X

This generation is currently pulled in two directions as they are taking care of their kids and their parents. They are naturally skeptical and often constitute “the glue in the organization.”

Baby Boomers 

Dorsey says this generation measures work ethic in hours per week. “If they can’t see you, you’re not working,” Dorsey explains. Meaning, if you are not sitting at your desk at the office, they might think you’re not working. They also believe there are no shortcuts to success, rather they rely on policy, procedures, and protocol. 

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Megan Briggs
Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for ChurchLeaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.