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We all know young adults who are either falling away from active religious practice or are struggling in some way with moving forward. Within 10 years of adulthood, nearly 60 percent of Christian, 30 percent of Jewish, and 25 percent of Muslim young adults are entering a religious hiatus of some sort. There is an epidemic of relativism and secularism. In fact, many Millennials now characterize themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.”

For parents of Millennials (ages early 20s to mid-30s) and teens, “spiritual but not religious” is a concept that isn’t fully understood. Many Millennials and older teens find less fulfillment in church because they believe the bureaucracy of it smothers the spiritual benefits.  They don’t like hierarchal leadership in the religious setting, and yet they seek to be connected to a higher supernal power. They don’t appreciate judgment or being judged, which they believe is more aligned with religion than spirituality. In many cases, they are simply trying to chart their own course as they consider how their own up bringing shaped them, while grappling with the world they live in.

Those of the older generations would likely applaud many principles embraced by young adults if we better understood their hearts and stopped mischaracterizing. Millennials are often castigated for their push against the status quo. They push hard against hierarchy (expecting to have a voice and desiring transparency), pride themselves on being non-judgmental, and simply don’t want to be hemmed in. They want to create their OWN future.

Even in the LDS faith, where the blessings of prophets and revelation are recognized, one can learn the language of Millennials and make a bridge for faith—which they will enthusiastically cross IF we learn from the lessons they are trying to teach us and reciprocate by sharing our own experiences with love and support.

As a former Young Single Adult ward Bishop, and an employer of over 10,000 Millennials over my lifetime, I have a deep love and respect for the rising generations. I have heard many comments from Boomers and older generations, labeling Millennials as entitled, lazy, self-absorbed, and so on. I have gained an entirely different perspective. Rather than label them, I want to thank them for so many things.

I thank them for their creativity, their concern for our world, and for asking questions. I thank them for desiring to create an inclusive culture, for creating innovations in technology, for being global thinkers who are adventurous, and for being motivated by meaning and purpose. I also thank them for their hunger to learn, their sense of optimism, for seeking work-life balance, and for prioritizing experiences over rote education.

I am one of the founders of Launching Leaders Worldwide, a nonprofit educational organization where we have learned the language of Millennials. Speaking to them with deep respect, we invite them to explore key principles of personal leadership and connect what they learn to their faith in their daily walk. We are NOT trying to “fix” Millennials. We are celebrating them and coming along side them, with a loving invitation to embrace principles that will help them move forward in their own way. Our charitable organization’s whole reason for existence is to empower the new generations. This is our way of giving back.

Our book and online course provide practical tools that open doors to a life of fulfillment and forward progress. Topics include developing your core values, making plans for your life, adopting mentors, living congruently (not compartmentalizing), creating life changing habits, financial fitness, and other key topics (twelve total). But the element that makes the book and course truly unique is embracing one’s faith in the process. When participants make plans for their lives and develop their complete selves, combining proven principles with faith in their everyday lives, they can move forward in accomplishing their life’s true purposes.

The Launching Leaders course is available to individuals or groups and has been utilized in various parts of the world. The companion book to the course, Launching Leaders: An Empowering Journey for a New Generation, is distributed by Deseret Book online and in stores.

“Launching Leaders helped me to map out my future, and to think five years ahead, 10 years ahead, 20 years ahead…which people don’t really do,” said a New Zealand young adult participant. “I think first and foremost that Launching Leaders does connect daily life with God, and for me, that’s so important,” said a participant in the United States. Watch this video for comments from other participants.

In the coming weeks I will be authoring a series of articles for Meridian that will discuss the topics listed below, along with other key elements of empowerment for the new generations. These topics are relevant for anyone, but I will frame the discussion around opportunities for the wonderful Millennial generation and their younger counterparts, Generation Z. Here is a taste of things to come:

  • Discovering your true identity: How the Cycle of Spiritual Guidance creates a path for understanding the Divine within.
  • Spiritual but not religious: Let’s talk about the roots of this phenomenon and how it is carving out such a niche in our society of young adults.
  • Core Values: Who doesn’t have core values? And yet, so many of us have never defined or articulated them.
  • Mentoring: No one succeeds alone; there is much to learn about finding and adopting mentors.
  • Congruency: This is a life-long challenge for everyone—living into who we really are. Compartmentalizing one’s life opens a dark door to relativism.
  • Authenticity: This is NOT the opposite of accountability. I will articulate how to create a plan for life that is both authentic and faith-based.
  • Daily Mindfulness: This one habit can build a life of meaning—which is what Millennials are ALL about.
  • Financial Fitness: Financial Fitness is fundamental to fueling your dream; but Millennials put this in the best context, which revolves around purpose, stewardship, and passion.
  • Tell me a story. In a day of sound bites, where social media absorbs so much of our time, I will discuss how effective storytelling can be a positive influence on one’s future.
  • Giving Back. I’m excited to tell you how the Millennials have shaped giving back into one of the most beautiful aspects of life.

Other key topics will be addressed in our consideration of the rising generation AND our invitation to meet each other at the center of the bridge. My hope is that, together, we can find a new synergy resulting in righteous empowerment for all of us.

Launching Leaders Website: www.llworldwide.org

Book – Launching Leaders: An Empowering Journey for a New Generation (click on the image)

Launching Leaders Online Course – Video Introduction (click on the image)