The Threat of Millennial Leaders

by: David A. Miller  |  June 25th, 2017  |  Coaching> Faith  | 

On a regular basis, I’m honored to be invited into conversations with churches about the next generation of leaders. It’s encouraging to sit with Boomer and Gen X leaders who are asking (and thinking about) what’s next for their ministries, and how to strengthen their teams.

However, there’s a common theme that I’ve noticed in many of these conversations — questions about Gen Y and Millennial leaders are steeped in fear of losing relevance.

I mean what if they want to do it differently than it’s being done now!?

Don’t get me wrong, these fears are normal, but they don’t need to define multigenerational relationships in ministry.

millennial leaders

I remember a conversation with a good friend and well-known worship leader when the new Hillsong Young & Free album was released. He said, “If this is where worship music is going, I’m not sure how much more time I have left. I just can’t do that.” Rather than see this new wave of young artists as potential collaborators, he saw them as the beginning of the end of his relevance.

This is an incredibly common story among church leadership. We see “new and different” as threatening. If they are the future than we are the past, right?


What if we could shift this mentality? What if we saw the future (our future) in the up-and-coming leader?

Have you ever watched Pharrell interact with young artists on The Voice? When he hears someone young and innovative, it seems to inspire him rather than threaten him. In his coaching, he draws out of them the best versions of themselves, never attempting to recreate himself or make them something they are not.

Its time for us to be inspired by young talent rather than threatened by it.

In 2016, Pharrell was invited to host a masterclass for students at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute. He listened to and critiqued the work of multiple student musicians in the class. A video of Pharrell listening to the music of Maggie Rogers went viral, where you can see that he is genuinely “taken back” by the music of this young artist.

You can check out the video here:

Notice Pharrell’s body language and the looks he gives to the room, as well as the artist. Focus on what he says to her: “I have zero notes for that.” NYU brought this man in to critique, and instead, he praises!

What if we experienced our Millennial leaders the way Pharrell sees young artists? I wonder what we’d do differently?

David A. Miller

Over the past thirteen years, David A. Miller has had the privilege of serving as a pastor, mentor, speaker and teacher. His diverse experiences on both the east and west coasts—in thriving, multi-site churches as well as parachurch ministries—collectively contribute… Read More