crash-coursing on the millennial generation

A college minister buddy asked me recently for some resources for better understanding Millennials. I figured it was just as easy to post that as it was to write him back, so here goes. (Thanks for the blog topic, D-Mo.)

If you read this blog regularly, you know that discussing Millennials (also known as “Generation Y” or various other things) is high on my priority list. More on that later.

For now, I want to answer my friend’s question and I’d love to hear about any resources you’ve found. Here’s the question: What resources can provide the best “crash course” in understanding the Millennials?

In my case, I’ve learned an awful lot from one source through the years: Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders. He does a fantastic job collating others’ research on these things, and “translating it” in a way that’s easy to consume and assimilate.

tim elmore

The very best “package” in that process was a .pdf download Growing Leaders used to sell: “Utterly Updated: Current Stats and Stories to Help You Connect with the Millennial Generation.” They’ve long quit selling it, which is a real bummer – and because of copyright, I obviously can’t upload it. (If you’re local, let me know if you’re interested in taking a look.)

But never fear. Because I’m guessing this kind of stuff – and with better, updated info – will be included in Elmore’s upcoming book about what he now calls “Generation iY.” With this term, Elmore looks at a further subset of Millennials / Gen Y, the group born more recently (since 1990) – which is, of course, the very group entering college these days. The book will apparently be out by August?

This is also the topic of this year’s National Leadership Forum, a summer forum I highly encourage you to consider (I got to attend in 2008). That will likely be a crash course in understanding Millennials par excellence.

But there’s more: The articles available through the Growing Leaders “Leadership Link” are available here. (I’d start with A Crash Course in Understanding Generation Y.) Plus Tim’s blog covers this stuff on a regular basis. You can conveniently click to the Generation iY category – and fortunately for us, he just started a 6-week Monday series devoted to delineating the world of this generation. But be sure to check out Trying to Understand the Mind of Generation iY and How We Changed in the First Decade of the 21st Century.

and more

While I’ve been lapping up Elmore’s wisdom (on College Ministry and Millennials) since 2001, I do know there are other great things out there for understanding our current audience.

The seminal work appears to be Millennials Rising by Howe and Strauss. While that book’s been around since 2001, it’s apparently defined much of the ensuing conversation. But if I was buying now, I would probably take a look at Millennials and the Pop Culture by the same guys.

I’ve heard some recommendations of Generation Me; Twenge is another name I’ve heard plenty; she seems to take a slightly more negative view than some.

Be SURE to check out Pew’s landing page on Millennials, and be sure to notice the downloadable report. Pew’s quiz, How Millennial Are You? is also very cool.

Honestly, the Wikipedia entry on Generation Y does what Wikipedia does well: boils things down.

And the Economist Intelligence Unit put out a helpful free .pdf a couple of years ago.

Finally, Leonard Sweet spoke at the National Leadership Forum I attended in ’08, and his stuff seems very in tune with Millennials’ learning styles.

But this is where I need your help: What articles (that’s best) or books (especially accessible ones) would you suggest for crash-coursing on the Millennial Generation?

and mine

I have tried here on the blog to help us think about Millennial-ness and Ministry; hopefully some of my stuff will provide a handy crash course, too.

The best thing I’ve done on this is observing the several ways Jimmy Fallon’s show caters to Gen Y. Another go-to post springboards from a Customer Service company’s Millennial research. Or skim through all my posts connected to the Millennial Generation right here – including Millennial movie reviews, links to other sources, and much more.


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  1. David

    Hey Benson-
    Thanks a ton for this post. Julia and I spent the morning on Elmore’s blog. It was pretty great. Also, I’ve seen the book Millennials Rising on the shelf but didn’t know if it was worth the read so maybe I’ll pick it up now. Thanks again bro, really appreciate your emphasis on this and hope to ride your coat tails to a better understanding of our students!

  2. Lee

    Benson – love Elmore’s stuff. Also Thom Rainer just completed some research for a book he and his son will be releasing in the very near future on Millennials.

    An article by USA Today, a post by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer are all linked on a post here: (Not trying to self promote – its the one place all those particular links are listed.)

  3. Jim

    I agree with Lee. Thom and Sam Rainer will be releasing their next book, I believe in September. I’ve been in contact with Thom about some of the new stats and to say the least I’m blown away. Thom also put out, some time back, “The Bridger Generation”. This has, without a doubt, been my best source of info.

    I’ve read most of the stuff you referred to from Tim Elmore…all good stuff. I’ve looked at, but not read “Millennials and the Pop Culture”. Hope to do that soon.

    The article that Lee posted from USA Today, is also a good read.

    Thanks for the hit on this! Talk to you soon.

  4. Thanks for that, guys – I look forward to seeing the Rainers’ book! As far as you know, is it only discussing their spiritual mindset / views / practices, or will it get into how to reach them at a practical / methodological level, too?

    In any case, should be a great read. Thanks for the heads-up.

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