Below are some of the characteristics and values of the Boomer generation.

Boomer Generation (1945-1964) 

- 79 million! (10% immigrant)
- Parents: GI and Silent
- Children - Gen X and Millennial
- Grandchildren - Digitals
- Can be sub-divided into Leading Edge Boomers (1946-1955) and Late Boomer (1956-1964)

  1. Well-Known/Significant Boomers
    1. Presidents - William Jefferson Clinton, George Bush; Vice-Presidents - Dan Quayle, Al Gore
    2. Janis Joplin, Steve Martin, Donal Trump, David letterman, Lee Atwater, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Job, Spike Lee, John McEnroe, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren
  2. Shaping/Coming of Age Events for Boomers
    1. 1946 - Dr. Spock publishes baby-care book
    2. 1949 - TV age begins, creating tremendous shared experiences for Boomers who grew up in the “big three” network age
    3. 1954 - Polio vaccine discovered; Brown school desegregation decision
    4. 1957 - Sputnik put into orbit
    5. 1964 - Free Speech Movement begins at Berkeley; Vietnam War (1964-1973) begins
    6. 1969 - Student Strikes; Apollo Moon landing; Woodstock
    7. 1970 - Kent State and Jackson State massacres; “Days of Rage”; “Earth Day
    8. 1972 - Draft ends
    9. 1974 - Watergate/Nixon brought down by Woodward and Bernstein (press)
    10. 1981 - Ronald Reagan era begins; Reagan shot; “yuppie” term begins being used
  3. Later Events/Accomplishments of Boomers
    1. Continued passing laws & culture of equality for women, all races
    2. 1992 - Bill Clinton becomes president; 2000 - George W. Bush becomes president
    3. 2002 - Rick Warren publishes “The Purpose-Driven Life”
  4. Characteristics/Values of Boomers
    1. Grew up in the most prosperous time ever-the “Leave It To Beaver” Generation
    2. Prosperous upbringing allowed them time and space to be “idealists” and “spiritual”; as teenagers and young adults participated in civil rights, women’s & anti-war movements; want to “re-imagine” government, family structure, church and more; reformers
    3. Hippie generation who explored alternative lifestyles, sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll
    4. Tremendous clash with GI Generation (& Silents with this mindset) on authority issues
    5. Had incredible shared experiences through television, Woodstock/music, Vietnam War, Watergate, yet highly individualistic (as opposed to GI “do it together” generation)
    6. Moved from Hippies to Yuppies and materialism/corporate mindset in 1980s
    7. The largest generation of its day, accused of being self-absorbed; Boomers have dominated every economic/business cycle and political and social issues since coming of age
    8. Boomer Christians value excellence (Col. 3:17), finding their purpose (1 Peter. 2:9; Eph. 2:8-10), individual activism (2 Cor. 5:10); small groups (Acts 2:42f), learning best business practices (Lk. 14:28), new songs (Ps. 144:9), “seamless” and projected worship
    9. Boomers largely founded & gravitated to megachurches, coming back to a more current, spiritual, individualistic, small group, & corporately structured church in the 1980s-90s
    10. Will never “grow old,” though most are now empty nesters and at or approaching retirement age; looking now to leave legacy to children/grandchildren & many still working
  5. Significant Quotes - - ”Never trust anyone over thirty.”

Source Material: Generations  by William Strauss & Neil Howe & Generation Reinvention by Brent Green

Boomers grew up in a prosperous time, the classic "Leave It To Beaver" world. This world was soon rocked by the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s--movements which they participated in as teens and young adults. Many Leading Edge Boomers went to Woodstock (400,000+) and experimented with sex, drugs and rock. They had power shared experiences from these tumultuous times--times captured and shared through television like never before. They also were leaders in the women's rights and equality in the workplace movements of the 1970s, and solidified the gains of the Silent leaders in these various movements.

In the 1980s, many Boomers ironically became Reaganites and participated in the conservative movement. Many became yuppies, corporate men and women, and materialistic. At the same time, many came back to church in the 1980s and 1990s, fueling the mega-church movement. In 2002, Rick Warren, the quintessential Boomer pastor wrote the quinessential Boomer book on spirituality--The Purpose-Driven Life.  

In their later years, the generation which said, "Never trust anyone over 30" have unexpectedly found themselves old--except they will never grow old. They are concentrating on dealing with empty nest syndrome, leaving a legacy for their children and grandchildren, and continuing to work and use their many skills for this youth generation.

What can we appreciate and value from the Boomer generation? What challenges do we need to learn from that they faced?

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Comment by Darryl Willis on June 9, 2013 at 9:06pm

Hmmm. Any comment by me would be rather self serving, I think. However, I would like to point out that men like Brian MacLaren (and I think Neil Cole) are Baby Boomers. I think it interesting that many who were seen as "post-modern" theologians and thinkers were ironically boomers and immersed in modernity.

Of course, depending on the reader, that could be a compliment or an insult... 8^)

I will say, though, I have been involved with a much younger generation and I have been quite impressed with those who have come after the boomers--the 20's, 30's and late 30 adults. Recently I've heard that some have been criticizing the millennials and following as a generation of "slackers". That has not been my experience of the younger generations! It's a pleasure to work alongside and to be inspired by them!

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