CNLP 075: Insights on Millennials From a Millennial Leader. An Interview with Jonathan Pearson

So, what are the strengths and weaknesses of leaders under 35?

Jonathan Pearson has written a book for Millennials and, at age 29, leads a campus of 1400 for a large church. He offers some honest, humble insights about his generation and how to work with them. Some insights on Millennials…from a Millennial leader.

Welcome to Episode 75 of the Podcast.


Guest Links: Jonathan Pearson


Cornerstone Church


Links Mentioned in this Episode

Geoff Surratt, Brad Lomenick and Carey NieuwhofEpisode 74

Haydn Shaw; Episode 69

David Kinnaman; Episode 24


3 Things You Can Do Right Away

How does the church view the stereotypes of millennials, and what can current leadership do to leverage their strengths? Jonathan discusses ways the church can embrace the generational changes without feeling threatened by the ideas and initiatives of millennials.

  1. Build a strategy around frustration points. Older generations are inclined not to cut millennials much slack, but you can re-visit the conflicts you’ve see with your own generation and set up a system. Any time a process becomes unstable or broken, you need to instate accountability that ensures quality. Establish guardrails and follow through. What fosters success are those who can build their strengths off consistency, and consistency caters to smoother transitions in change.
  2. Allow millennials to lead. A good leader builds influence before asserting authority, and the worst thing you can do to a millennial is to allow them to build an influence without giving them authority. They won’t want to influence without given permission to make change. Don’t just give millennials projects. Let them execute ideas, and give them decision-making ability. If you don’t give them a place to lead, they’ll find somewhere to do it. Trust them Believe in them. They’re the future whether you like it or not. Let them prove themselves.
  3. Create more opportunities to build community. The generational shift in the church is seeing a more service-minded attitude. It’s going to see more small groups, and millennials want to make an impact in their communities. As the church moves forward, the local church won’t get smaller, but it will need to feel smaller. Millennials like that sense of community because they feel it breeds authenticity.

Quotes from this Episode

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CNLP 075: Insights on Millennials From a Millennial Leader. An Interview with Jonathan Pearson


  1. […] writing and podcasting. In addition, almost all of my team members these days are pretty much Millennials or Generation […]

  2. donjonesmd on March 1, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Enjoyed the podcast. You mentioned a book addressed to Millennials regarding life challenges they face and Biblical responses to those issues. Couldn’t find it reference in the show notes. Would you give the name of the book again? Thanks

  3. Bart Frost on February 26, 2016 at 9:39 am

    I’ve been a fan for a while, but I’ve noticed that you have only interviewed a handful of people of color (or none at all). What’s up with that?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 26, 2016 at 10:11 am

      I appreciate your comment Bart. There’s no intentionality behind that at all. I’m sure we’ll have a variety of guests over time from every background. Thanks for pointing it out.

  4. Amyers621 on February 23, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I am 28 and lead the kids ministry at a 2 year old church plant in KC. I DEFINITELY have struggled with the outcome vs. process idea that Carey mentioned. I was surprised that Jonathan thought that was a unique situation. I see that in myself and others that are in their 20’s that are on my team. It took me leading a few others with that struggle to realize that I do it myself! I can’t imagine how frustrated my lead pastor has probably been with me! 😉 BUT I will say that it is a problem that I didn’t realize I had, and if someone had told me, “Hey, when I ask you questions, I need to know the outcome. You are in charge of the process, and if you need help coming up with ideas to GET the outcome, let me know. But I really just need the outcome.” that could have helped. Although maybe I would have been offended by that? I think part of why I (as a millennial) would explain the process is because I wanted to show that I was trying, or I felt like I needed to explain myself so that I didn’t look stupid or inadequate. Perhaps this is a problem that comes from not knowing how to deal with failure, which I think might also be a millennial issue that leads to many of our stereotypes. I am going through a major growth phase personally right now that does not feel good, but I think I am really having to deal with some personal issues that are being forced out as I’m gaining more responsibility and as we are growing as a church that are typical millennial generation problems.

    Thanks for the podcast and opportunity to interact!

  5. 5 for Leadership-February 20th - Gary Runn on February 20, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    […] Insights on Millennials From a Millennial Leader: An Interview with Jonathan Pearson […]

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