When They Were Twenty-Five: Baby Boomers
For this next article in the Generations series, I am going to do something very shocking. I’m dividing the Baby Boomers into two groups. This might not sit well with some of them because that makes the Boomers an average-sized generation instead of the second largest one. Boomers like things to be big!
There is method in my madness. There are 363,905 Baby Boomers living in Oklahoma. The first group is what some term “Early Boomers” (born: 1946-1954. Age: 59-67). My next article will be about the second group of “Late Boomers,” which many believe should be considered separately as “Generation Jones” (born 1955-1964. Age: 49-58).
Baby Boomers were born (1946-1954) in a time of unprecedented prosperity in the United States. Because of this, they usually have an optimistic attitude and tend to take material things for granted. Rather than aspiring to the American Dream, Boomers have been born into it. When they were 25, the first Starbucks opened at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington and the Intel 4004 was the first microprocessor. Their impact on culture and technology are the hallmarks of the Boomer generation.
Boomers have shaped the world with technology innovations in just about every area of learning, especially in physical science, sociology, psychology and technology. They invented the personal computer, the internet, satellite networks, etc. Most of America’s technical engineers are Baby Boomers.
As the first generation that was raised on TV, they grew up watching Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver, but by 1971, when the oldest Boomer turned 25, everything was changed. Sweeping social and cultural change came to the United States and continued throughout their lifetimes. Boomer values changed society in the United States with regard to women, race, sexual mores, the rearing of children, the economy–even clothing! If you are wearing jeans at work as you read this, thank a Boomer. Their informal approach to life changed the business world from formal suits and ties to “business casual.”
Baby Boomers have a strong need to define what they do in terms of morality and right and wrong. They are the force behind movements from the Hippies and Free Love to the Jesus People and contemporary Christian music. Their tastes in music, movies, and design have shaped the present American context. They are the most educated generation in American history. They value and respect education. Baby Boomers are insatiable learners who are constantly on a quest of personal development.
Life in the SBC:
The argument could be made that the Boomers are the makers of the Southern Baptist Convention. As children they were enrolled in SBC churches during the “Million More in ‘54” campaign. The sheer size of their numbers forced the SBC to adapt to them with developments such as age-graded Sunday School, church busing, Vacation Bible School, and full-time children’s ministers. As youth, the SBC experienced explosive growth in church-based youth ministry, youth camps, youth musicals, etc. SBC campus ministries like BCM were at their height at the time the SBC Boomers were in college. Many Boomers became believers during the “Jesus Movement” of the 1970‘s. As they entered the ministry, Boomers reshaped the landscape of the SBC, creating new expressions of church with contemporary music, mega-churches, and Para-church organizations. Boomers will continue to shape the future of the SBC as they face retirement age. Between now and 2015, the people entering retirement age is projected to increase 54%. Boomers do not expect old age to slow them down or keep them from contributing to society. Look for the Baby Boomers to continue their active involvement in the SBC.
Boomer have shared experiences growing up that shaped their lives, many have a similar outlook on life.
Baby Boomer Outlook
Youthfulness. Boomers don’t want to be kids forever, but they do want to stay young by intensely questioning established ways and bringing the youthful sentiment of looking at things with fresh eyes.
Personal spiritual development. They tend to pursue their growth using programs, many of which have videos, books and seminars.
Achievement. Boomers are driven and hard working and tend to think a person needs to pay his or her dues to get to the top. Position is the result of creative action, hard work, and dedication.
Give a little face time. The generation that gave us “Woodstock” loves conferences and large gatherings. These are places where Boomers thrive because they like to mingle with others and form relationships.
Consensus building. They value egalitarian leadership. They prefer to work on problems in teams and task force groups. Give them a place to meet regularly and a team of competent people and they feel they can change the world.
Spend the money. Boomers are focused on the present more than the future. For this reason, they tend to spend more than save. They want to spend in ways that have measurable impact in the present.