“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) because our God is The God of Order. This blog series has centered around Understanding The 6 Different Generations In The Church Today and the unique opportunities and challenges as we determine to connect and live life together. Just as we experience the four seasons without fail, even when winter seems to last longer than we might prefer, there are also four historical turnings that recur every 80-100 years, impacting people, their communities, and inevitably, The Church.
The four historical turnings are:
High (First Turning)
Old Prophets die, Nomads enter elderhood, Heroes enter midlife, Artists enter young adulthood—and a new generation of Prophets is born. This is an era when institutions are strong, and individualism is weak. Society is confident about where it wants to go collectively, even if those outside the majoritarian center feel stifled by the conformity.
Awakening (Second Turning)
Old Nomads die, Heroes enter elderhood, Artists enter midlife, Prophets enter young adulthood—and a new generation of child Nomads is born. This is an era when institutions are attacked in the name of personal and spiritual autonomy. Just when society is reaching its high tide of public progress, people suddenly tire of social discipline and want to recapture a sense of personal authenticity.
Unraveling (Third Turning)
Old Heroes die, Artists enter elderhood, Prophets enter midlife, Nomads enter young adulthood—and a new generation of child Heroes is born. The mood of this era is, in many ways, the opposite of a High. Institutions are weak and distrusted, while individualism is strong and flourishing. Highs follow Crises, which teach the lesson that society must coalesce and build. Unravelings follow Awakenings, which teaches the lesson that society must atomize and enjoy.
Crisis (Fourth Turning)
Old Artists die. Prophets enter elderhood. Nomads enter midlife. Heroes enter young adulthood—and a new generation of child Artists is born. This is an era in which America’s institutional life is torn down and rebuilt from the ground up—always in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s survival. Civic authority revives, cultural expression finds a community purpose, and people locate themselves as members of a larger group. In every instance, Fourth Turnings have eventually become new “founding moments” in America’s history, refreshing and redefining the national identity.
Because each of the four-generation types (Prophet, Hero, Nomad, and Artist) experience the four historical turnings at different times. Each generation is shaped differently by these watershed moments in history. Historical turnings and generational archetypes work together to power the generational cycles. Historical turnings shape generations in childhood and young adulthood. Then, as parents and leaders in midlife and old age, generations in turn shape history.
This in-depth study by William Strauss and Neil Howe helps shed light on the people who make up our church body and the communities in which we live. People can be complicated. Learning a bit more about the cyclical nature of the world helps us understand what potentially could shape us all. And how we can minister to their needs. The importance of vision casting has to be inclusive of each member of your church. Uncovering these types of insights and developing a custom action plan of reaching more of your community is something that Kingdom Analytics and MissionInsite specialize in to benefit your discipleship and relationship-building efforts to point to Christ.
Let us not forget. While we are working out how to best connect and serve each other. No matter which generation or type we may fall into, we are called to be one in Him.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
Learn to Reach the Six Generations in Your Community
With this new free guide, you can:
- Learn what Millennials are looking for in a church so you can more effectively reach them.
- Get a better understanding of your church’s future through a deep dive into today’s youngest generation, Gen Z.
- Discover how midlife Gen Xers’ commitment to family is opening up new ministry opportunities for your church.
Cary serves as ACS Technologies’ Chief People Officer. He joined ACS Technologies in 2012. With more than 20 years of progressive and strategic Human Resources leadership experience from multinational corporations such as Roche Pharmaceuticals, Becton Dickinson, and Baxter Healthcare International.