I’ve heard from many church members in various contexts over the last several years state that having a “young” minister of music will surely equate to having young people in their church choir. Admittedly, I thought it was incredibly anecdotal, but I wondered if there was some truth to their thinking? So I set out to find out if there was some correlation between leader age and the presence (or dominance) of certain generational cohorts in these same leaders’ choirs. The results suggest that there IS a correlation between the two in my area of study. Certainly more research is needed to give any actual validation, but the presence in this context makes one wonder if it might carry over into other churches in other places.
In my research, I aimed to find the dominant (most people in any given generation) cohort in each leaders’ choir by asking the leader to rank order (frequency) the cohorts. I found that only one of my leaders had a choir where the most dominant generational cohort was Millennial. I found also that only three had choirs that had dominant Builder generational cohorts. The other groups were mostly Boomers and Gen Xers.* What I found was thirty-seven percent of the leaders reported that they had the most choir members from the Generation X cohort while almost fifty-eight percent of the leaders reported that they had the most choir members from the Boomer cohort. I doubt any of you reading this are surprised by this information.
*I feel compelled to mention that while most churches are multi-gen, there is certainly not equal numbers in most churches. There will be more written on that later.
When I looked back at the generational cohorts of the leaders themselves, I remembered that they were also almost entirely from the Generation X and Boomer generations. I wondered if there was some correlation between the two and decided to compare the two. This is what I found:
In churches where the leader was from Generation X, 60.9% of the dominant generational cohorts were ALSO from Generational X. Likewise, 82.9% of Boomer cohorts in these choirs were dominant in churches where the leader was also a Boomer.
This information suggests that there is something to be said for younger leaders “attracting” younger choir members and vice versa. I’d love to see more research on this topic, because if this is true, then more investment in younger leaders is needed to continue the cycle of music ministry that involves all generations. Because from what I can tell, there aren’t droves of young leaders serving/adhering to intergenerational music ministry philosophy .