Millennials Hardcover – Dec 1 2010
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Rainers do what they do very well. The book is written with an engaging style that keeps the mountains of statistical data from boggling the mind or lulling it to sleep. Thom and Jess intersperse statistical survey data with enough personal interview highlights to keep the text flowing and keep the numbers making sense. At the end of each chapter, the authors offer summaries and conclusions that keep the reader tracking with their findings.
Negatively, this book is a statistically-driven work. If you do not like stats and demographic analysis, you probably will not enjoy this book. You can certainly still benefit from it if you will give it your time, but if numbers make your head spin, this work will not keep your attention.
The authors also acknowledge that no amount of statistical analysis can ever predict what God will do in and through a generation. So, while the work is helpful to show us that those born between 1980 and 1991 (the book limits itself to the older Millennial generation) are looking to make a difference in the world, tend to dislike institutional religion that does not impact the community, tend to shy away from harsh-sounding truth claims, and treasure their relationships with their families, we cannot know for sure what the Lord might do with such a generation. As the authors make clear, this generation is the least churched of any in American history. At the same time, this generation's Christians are as radically committed to Christ as any generation in memory.
The Millennials is an interesting and helpful look at the differences in generations. The book has helpful insights into how churches might want to think regarding this younger generation. While no church should compromise its teaching or the commands of Christ in order to "bring in" the latest generation, a look at the facts of a generation as the Rainers have provided can certainly help church leaders to better understand the thoughts and motives behind those who may be quite different than they themselves are.
If you know the Millennials, many of the conclusions seem to have validity. Millennials and older "Xes" that I know, as well as those depicted in popular culture, socialize and consult with their parents, are skeptical of institutional religion, accept diversity, etc. The authors give some statistics for these and other conclusions, but without more complete data on the method and the subject pool, the conclusions are diminished.
One area I'm skeptical about is in the section on money. It is well documented that the Millennials have significant college debt and this is not even hinted at, suggesting that the 1200 member study group is skewed to either an upper middle class that has not had to borrow for an education and/or to those who have not had much education beyond high school. I'd be interested not only the demographics of the sample, but also the survey questions and if they really help define the Millennials on this topic.
The authors take continuous swipes at the Baby Boomers. For instance, the Boomers anti-authoritarian streak is negatively contrasted with the respect of the Millennials' respect for authority. It should be noted that the Boomers had reason to challenge authority. Authority structures were replete with institutional, de facto, legal and cultural racism and sexism. In the 60's and early 70's it was impossible for all but valedictorian Blacks and women to even consider medical or law school, to say nothing of the job markets they faced. The boomers made it possible for Millennials to face fairer authority structures. The Rainers say "The reality is that many of the leaders, Martin Luther King for example... was born well before the first boomer.." (p. 97) as though Silent Generation and the GI's were the ones who accomplished this.
A lot of their conclusions have intuitive validity if you know many Millennials, and the authors, being evangelical Christians, have no reason to skew their data since what they present it shows the Millennials trending away from the church; however, the lack of documentation, or even an index, and the unnecessary comments on the Boomers mitigate the value and authority of this book and its conclusions.
The book presents a fascinating snapshot of the views and priorities of American young adults on a wide variety of topics. In addition to statistics the book quotes extensively from their interviews. Some of the responses in areas like respect for authority will likely come as a surprise. Responses to some other topics like organised religion are predictable but it still may be helpful to hear the conclusions in such to the point terms.
I am somewhat skeptical of some of the conclusions about how the millennial generation is going to change society for the better. While I don't doubt the good intentions of many of the interview subjects, I am not convinced that the intentions will be as well acted on as the authors believe.
I "read" this book in audio format. While the narration was clear and easy enough to listen to, it didn't really work well for me in audio. I think this was mostly to do with all the quotes.
If you are interacting with young adults in the workplace or ministry this could be a good resource to help you understand them better. Others may find it interesting but a bit long.