Clearly, recovering from the Corona Pandemic is going much slower than many of us had hoped for. Economists are asking the urgently important questions about what kind of an economic future are we racing into now.

Increasingly, some economists are predicting that we could be entering a longer, more prolonged recession due to the increasingly high levels of unemployment and the dramatic increase in the number of businesses headed into bankruptcy. It could be a very rough recession for all of us… particularly Gen Next.

Churches Waking up to Recession Next

Every major corporation has a plan for how they will deal with the next recession. However, I have never found a local church that has any kind of plan to enable members and neighbors to deal with recession next.

In 2007, as we were headed into a new recession, we organized a group of some 50 Christian leaders here in Seattle to do some idea storming of innovative ways they might prep for recession next, which I wrote about in the Leadership Journal in 2009.

For example, Trinity Lutheran offered a course on financial steps to reduce their economic vulnerability. A number of congregations posted on their websites asking members who had an extra car in their driveways or vacant rooms in their homes to share with others. However, we did not consider coming up with ideas to enable the youngest millennial generation to deal with the impact of the recession as they launched their lives. Numbers postponed getting married, starting families and a surprising number are still struggling to get their lives started.

Churches Waking up to the Impact on Gen Next!

“The Great Recession has had a lasting effect on Millennials, including fewer jobs available, decreased savings, and a reluctance to purchase homes. Many Millennials graduated at the height of the crisis, leaving them with high levels of student loan debt.”

As a consequence of the 07-09 recession, Millennials have less money invested and own fewer homes. They are currently being laid off faster than older workers. Those that are working make less money, have smaller savings accounts and still have over a half a trillion dollars of student loans to keep paying off.

Older Gen Z grads are among the first ones being laid off as we enter this new recession. Many of the Gen Z young that are in middle school and high school are going to have classroom education interrupted which could postpone their high school graduation. College educational options are also uncertain which could put their future on hold.

Churches Creating New Possibilities With the Good News Gen! 

All church leaders have learned the bad news from Pew Research about Gen Next… few of them are going to affiliate with churches. However, tragically, few leaders have read about the research that makes it clear that Gen Y and Z are actually the good news generations!

Since Gen Y & Z are the first digital generations, they seem to not only be more aware of issues like environmental, racial and economic justice, but a higher percentage of these two generations care deeply about these issues and want to invest their lives in serious change making. Burlap is the best website that reports on Gen Y & Z.

I urge leaders in churches and non-profits to immediately start working with those in Gen Y and Z in their neighborhoods and congregations that are likely to be unemployed by the accelerating recession. First, invite them to change-making workshops with local social action innovators to help them identify existing opportunities to be employed by governmental or social service non-profits.

Then, in a second change-making workshop, invite the unemployed young to idea-storm new innovative ways to do much needed change-making in their neighborhoods that both make a real difference and hopefully provide a modest income. A surprising number of innovative members of Gen Y & Z have already successfully launched new social innovations that are making a real difference.

Several years ago, I was invited by the Christian Reformed Church to lead a Futures Innovation Workshop for a group of 45 or 50 leaders of Christian non-profits in Grand Rapids. I discovered that a number of them didn’t realize that several creative millennials in their community had started their own social innovations. So I started our time together by inviting them to share.

Dana Doll began by sharing her story about starting the Tree Tops Collective. She and several of her friends became concerned by the growing number of women and their children who had migrated to the US from the middle east who couldn’t find work. They created a successful program to teach these women to make pottery to enable them to become self-reliant.

Justin Beene became concerned about the very alarming number of young people in the black community in Grand Rapids who couldn’t find work. He and his friends started the Center for Community Transformation that started two innovative programs that trains and employs the young. Rising Grinds produces and sells coffee. Youth Build both trains young people in the trades and helps them find jobs. It was clear as the non-profit leaders questioned these two millennials they were not aware that young people were creating these forms of empowerment.

One of my favorite examples is the Colonial Church in Edina, Minnesota that sold some of their land for $2 million. The pastor decided to use 20% of that sum to run an annual Social Enterprise Competition called Innove’ for young innovators. All you had to be was under 30 and have an innovative idea. You didn’t even have to attend that church. If you won, you not only received money for you and your team to get started, but a team of business leaders in the church helped you design a launch plan to get your social innovation off to a strong start.

Mike Glover was the Innove’ winner in 2015. He became increasingly concerned for the well-being of 80,000 Somali who had settled in the Twin Cities. Mike’s winning idea was to start Hoyo, an enterprise employing Somali women to make sambusas to sell in a broad range of grocery stores in the region. Using industrial kitchens in several churches enabled this social innovation to get off to a strong start. (from Live Like You Give a Damn! Join the Changemaking Celebration)

Couldn’t churches or non-profits in your communities start running social enterprise competitions in your communities to enable Gen Y & Z  to start new forms of social innovation to make a difference where you live instead of waiting in their parent’s basement, like too many young millenniums did waiting for the 07-09 recession to end?

Please contact me and let me know if you have some new ideas of how to enable the Good News Generation to use their gifts to both create and launch some new social innovations for times like these. We are trying to get something started as quickly as possible.

Join the Launch Team!

If you are interested in joining the Launch Team for our book, 2020s Foresight, please contact me and visit our Facebook page.

1. Buy it on Amazon on September 1st, sharing images of the book online

2. When the book arrives, post a picture of you holding it on social media

3. Read it, & post a 5 star review on Amazon, if you find it worthy… say a few nice things in any case

BTW… If you decide to read the book with a few friends, let me know… either myself or my co-author, Dwight Friesen may be able to Zoom into your group and join your conversation. It is designed to be a study book with questions at the end of each chapter. We would value your feedback.