Church Growth

Circles not ladders: 3 relational habits to win with Millennials and Gen Z

A new generation is here, and they think, relate, and live differently than any other generation before them. Millennials and Gen Z are optimists, talented, creative, and collaborators. They are also driven by a thirst for significance. They are relational, and have an inbuilt desire for authenticity. In this week's article are some ideas to help you relate to new generations.

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H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

A new generation is here, and they think, relate, and live differently than any other generation before them. I am optimistic about this new generation. They are hopeful, educated, and believe they can change the world.

Say Hello to Millennials and Gen Z.

Generational literacy and intelligence are fundamental to communicating with each generation to understand its needs. The ability to understand and relate to multiple generations at one time is more crucial than ever before.

Millennials and Gen Z are optimists, talented, creative, and collaborators. They are also driven by a thirst for significance. They are relational, and have an inbuilt desire for authenticity.

Don’t buy into the negativity towards new generations; they are remarkable. They are world-changers and hard workers.

In other words, this is a generation to love and be inspired by.

“To handle this new world, we need generational intelligence. The reason we struggle with other generations is not that they are ‘the problem.’ The reason we struggle with other generations is that we don’t understand them.”
Generational IQ: Christianity Isn't Dying, Millennials Aren't the Problem, and the Future Is Bright

Here are some ideas to help you relate to new generations:

1. Relational Leadership Style

For Millennials, leadership is not about power.

Millennials are fundamentally changing the way we understand leadership. Millennials follow relationship not authority.

Millennials no longer respond to power and authority in and of itself. The days of “because I said so” and “do as I say, not as I do” are vanishing.

Authoritative power does not connect with Millennials—relationship does.

“Power is decaying. To put it simply, power no longer buys as much as it did in the past.”

The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn't What It Used to Be

A position of authority should not become an authoritarian leadership style. In his book, The 5 Levels of Leadership, John Maxwell relegates position/authority to the lowest level of leadership.

In the Boomer generation, leading from authority may not have been great leadership, but the hierarchy in organizations was an accepted norm. Today, not only is authoritative leadership ineffective—it is fatal to a culture.

Lead from authority but not with authority.

Millennial leadership style is relational and strategic. Leadership requires both skill and strategy, but Millennial leadership is about creating connections with people. The saying “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is truer today than it ever has been before.

Leaders must first work on the relationship and then apply strategy.

Ask yourself this key question: how would I lead if I had no organizational authority? If you consider that your people didn’t have to do what you said, you would have to rely more on relationship and communication.

Millennials respond to the relational leader.

2. Collaborative Organizational Structure

Many organizational structures in the past have been built like a ladder. Decisions seem to rest with people at the top of the organization, while others at the lower rungs serve to implement these decisions.

Millennials are team-oriented and collaborative, and resist structure. Lead pastor and college professor Dr. Frank Damazio summarized this trend: “Millennials are mercurial, and Boomers are linear; Millennials are fluid.”

Millennials resist most traditional structures because they were raised in a learning environment that embraced collaboration.

Evolve from a hierarchal organization of ladders to circles of collaboration.

Ladders represent command and control, top-down organizations that dictate to subordinates.  

Those at the entry level of organizations, the lowest ladder rungs, are often given seemingly meaningless tasks to do, with little or no input in the process of how these could be most effectively done or changed. As a result, disengagement and disillusionment become the norm.

In the minds of Millennials, the ladder style of organizational management leaves much to be desired.

By contrast, circle-style organization shows teams within teams, with defined leadership but also specific outcomes.


Listening is the best way to reach Millennials who want to be involved and be heard.

Have a conversation with Millennials, and you’ll discover that they want to devote themselves to a cause. They want to work from a place of significance, where they can be relevant and leave an impact on their world.

Reaching Millennials must go deeper than surface level. Go deep by creating a structure that respects diverse opinions, rewards collaboration, and encourages fluid work processes.

3. Create an environment of training and mentoring

Millennials are hungry: they want to learn.

In a PwC’s report, Millennials at work, two of the top three factors that make an organization an attractive employer were ‘opportunities for career progression’ and ‘excellent training/development programs.’

“Millennials are on the path to becoming the most educated generation in America's history. The Millennials understand the power behind a mentor. That is why we want one. Three out of four Millennials would like a leader to come beside them and teach them leadership skills.” The Millennials


With the advent of the 21st century, we are facing a mega-shift in culture, church attendance, and religious beliefs. Everything is changing at a dizzying rate. In the midst of this metamorphosis, we have a generation that will change the way entire industries operate. Millennials are already redefining the world in which they want to live.

In the coming years, Millennials will soon make up the vast majority of the global workforce. By 2030, Millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce. Will they represent 75% of your church? For that to happen, leading through a relational posture will be an essential practice in pastoral environments.

For more, please download my White Paper – 8 Innovations to Leading Millennials.

podcast transcript

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H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Blog

Circles not ladders: 3 relational habits to win with Millennials and Gen Z

Circles not ladders: 3 relational habits to win with Millennials and Gen Z

A new generation is here, and they think, relate, and live differently than any other generation before them. Millennials and Gen Z are optimists, talented, creative, and collaborators. They are also driven by a thirst for significance. They are relational, and have an inbuilt desire for authenticity. In this week's article are some ideas to help you relate to new generations.

Show notes

A new generation is here, and they think, relate, and live differently than any other generation before them. I am optimistic about this new generation. They are hopeful, educated, and believe they can change the world.

Say Hello to Millennials and Gen Z.

Generational literacy and intelligence are fundamental to communicating with each generation to understand its needs. The ability to understand and relate to multiple generations at one time is more crucial than ever before.

Millennials and Gen Z are optimists, talented, creative, and collaborators. They are also driven by a thirst for significance. They are relational, and have an inbuilt desire for authenticity.

Don’t buy into the negativity towards new generations; they are remarkable. They are world-changers and hard workers.

In other words, this is a generation to love and be inspired by.

“To handle this new world, we need generational intelligence. The reason we struggle with other generations is not that they are ‘the problem.’ The reason we struggle with other generations is that we don’t understand them.”
Generational IQ: Christianity Isn't Dying, Millennials Aren't the Problem, and the Future Is Bright

Here are some ideas to help you relate to new generations:

1. Relational Leadership Style

For Millennials, leadership is not about power.

Millennials are fundamentally changing the way we understand leadership. Millennials follow relationship not authority.

Millennials no longer respond to power and authority in and of itself. The days of “because I said so” and “do as I say, not as I do” are vanishing.

Authoritative power does not connect with Millennials—relationship does.

“Power is decaying. To put it simply, power no longer buys as much as it did in the past.”

The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn't What It Used to Be

A position of authority should not become an authoritarian leadership style. In his book, The 5 Levels of Leadership, John Maxwell relegates position/authority to the lowest level of leadership.

In the Boomer generation, leading from authority may not have been great leadership, but the hierarchy in organizations was an accepted norm. Today, not only is authoritative leadership ineffective—it is fatal to a culture.

Lead from authority but not with authority.

Millennial leadership style is relational and strategic. Leadership requires both skill and strategy, but Millennial leadership is about creating connections with people. The saying “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is truer today than it ever has been before.

Leaders must first work on the relationship and then apply strategy.

Ask yourself this key question: how would I lead if I had no organizational authority? If you consider that your people didn’t have to do what you said, you would have to rely more on relationship and communication.

Millennials respond to the relational leader.

2. Collaborative Organizational Structure

Many organizational structures in the past have been built like a ladder. Decisions seem to rest with people at the top of the organization, while others at the lower rungs serve to implement these decisions.

Millennials are team-oriented and collaborative, and resist structure. Lead pastor and college professor Dr. Frank Damazio summarized this trend: “Millennials are mercurial, and Boomers are linear; Millennials are fluid.”

Millennials resist most traditional structures because they were raised in a learning environment that embraced collaboration.

Evolve from a hierarchal organization of ladders to circles of collaboration.

Ladders represent command and control, top-down organizations that dictate to subordinates.  

Those at the entry level of organizations, the lowest ladder rungs, are often given seemingly meaningless tasks to do, with little or no input in the process of how these could be most effectively done or changed. As a result, disengagement and disillusionment become the norm.

In the minds of Millennials, the ladder style of organizational management leaves much to be desired.

By contrast, circle-style organization shows teams within teams, with defined leadership but also specific outcomes.


Listening is the best way to reach Millennials who want to be involved and be heard.

Have a conversation with Millennials, and you’ll discover that they want to devote themselves to a cause. They want to work from a place of significance, where they can be relevant and leave an impact on their world.

Reaching Millennials must go deeper than surface level. Go deep by creating a structure that respects diverse opinions, rewards collaboration, and encourages fluid work processes.

3. Create an environment of training and mentoring

Millennials are hungry: they want to learn.

In a PwC’s report, Millennials at work, two of the top three factors that make an organization an attractive employer were ‘opportunities for career progression’ and ‘excellent training/development programs.’

“Millennials are on the path to becoming the most educated generation in America's history. The Millennials understand the power behind a mentor. That is why we want one. Three out of four Millennials would like a leader to come beside them and teach them leadership skills.” The Millennials


With the advent of the 21st century, we are facing a mega-shift in culture, church attendance, and religious beliefs. Everything is changing at a dizzying rate. In the midst of this metamorphosis, we have a generation that will change the way entire industries operate. Millennials are already redefining the world in which they want to live.

In the coming years, Millennials will soon make up the vast majority of the global workforce. By 2030, Millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce. Will they represent 75% of your church? For that to happen, leading through a relational posture will be an essential practice in pastoral environments.

For more, please download my White Paper – 8 Innovations to Leading Millennials.

video transcript

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