One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Training the 5 Generations in Your Church

I recently discovered the book Sticking Points. It was written by author Hadyn Shaw, and in this book he helps his readers understand the generational differences and preferences of the 5 generations in the workforce today. Transfer some of his insights into the church, and you’ll start to see why these 5 generations who are also in our churches today don’t always get along like they should. I want to zoom in on his chapter on training preferences, but before I do, here is what the publisher says about the book:

This is the first time in American history that we have five different generations working side-by-side in the workplace: the Traditionalists (born before 1945), the Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964), Gen X (born between 1965–1980), Millennials (born 1981–2001) and Gen Z (born 1996–present). Haydn Shaw, popular business speaker and generational expert, has identified 12 places where the 5 generations typically come apart in the workplace (and in life as well). These sticking points revolve around differing attitudes toward managing one’s own time, texting, social media, organizational structure, and of course, clothing preferences. If we don’t learn to work together and stick together around these 12 sticking points, then we’ll be wasting a lot of time fighting each other instead of enjoying a friendly and productive team. Sticking Points…will help you understand the generational differences you encounter while teaching us how we can learn to speak one another’s language and get better results together.

As we learn about generational preferences, we can more fully engage them and meet their needs as leaders in the church. This is especially true in the area of training. Here are Hayden’s insights about the 5 generations and how they prefer to be trained. See if this rings true of the 5 generations in your church. This may help you understand why the training you offer isn’t resonating with all of your workers:


  • Lived in rural areas
  • Had few books
  • Valued classroom education/teacher’s word was law
  • Appreciate lectures


  • Grew up with compelling TV and entertainers
  • Less tolerant towards poor communicators
  • Love group discussion
  • Value compelling stories/motivating speakers
  • Value certificates/certifications

Generation Xers

  • Think keeping current = job security
  • Expect organizations to train them
  • Little tolerance for lectures like Boomers or Traditionalists
  • Training is essential for all, not a reward for the few
  • They don’t hesitate to question authority
  • Won’t believe a trainer simply because he has a title


  • Want interaction
  • Communicate through video and visual media
  • Boring is the kiss of death
  • Expect to work in groups/network in the classroom
  • Want practical training
  • 55% say YouTube is their preferred method of learning
  • Prefer face-to-face communication
  • Value anytime/anywhere training
  • Value shorter sessions

Generation Z

  • Will ask a co-worker to train them instead of the boss
  • As likely to ask parents as to look it up online
  • 60% say YouTube is their preferred learning tool
  • 85% of Gen Z has watch at least 1 online video in last 7 days

As I have considered the chapter on preferences in training approaches, it has reminded me that any training I create for the group leaders at my church must take into account how people prefer to learn and how they access information. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to training, so make sure you change things up at in-person meetings. While older generations prefer lectures, younger ones won’t as much. Be careful to balance how information is delivered at in-person meetings, but don’t forget about other delivery mechanisms. Why not record training and post it in a YouTube channel created by your church? Why not allow younger leaders to access training online and in a format they already enjoy?

I encourage you to pick up a copy of Hadyn Shaw’s book (I receive no financial compensation for that recommendation!). I believe you’ll find some of his insights helpful as you navigate your church’s culture and deal with the 5 generations that are not only in the workforce, but right there in your church.

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