In “The Circuit Rider” an article titled “The Crisis of Younger Clergy, Deployment Dliemmas” by Lovett H. Weems Jr., and Ann A. Michel, it starts out with this paragraph:
“At a recent pastors’ school with several hundred clergy present, a bishop asked all the clergy under the age of 35 to stand. Four or five stood. The Bishop said, ‘All the rest of you look very carefully at these young clergy persons. In our conference, they are an endangered species. Be very good to them.'” (p. 26, Feb/Mar/April 2009)
I stopped right there and thought to myself. In my conference we are not growing the younger edge of clergy. And I know we are not unusual across denominations. So, what is happening in our midst? Has the call of God to the ordained ministry become a lost voice among us?
I can think of my young friends and I hear their struggles…family demands clash with weekend duties; systemic politics get bothersome; costs related to seminary seem unbearable; creative ideas are squashed under the load of caring for congregations and politics; frequent moves take a toll in the passion arena. And despite all that, they still feel the deep call of God. Mostly what I see from my young clergy friends is that they have great ideas that don’t fit into the current box. And they learn to keep ideas quiet…whispered in the face of dreams that don’t die, or to try things so slowly that patience bordering on a backwards crawl becomes a learned habit. I listen and learn and wonder…
What if we put the young clergy in front of the line…asking them to lead us into the unknown territory of reaching a generation that only they know best?
What if their voices were the loudest, never silenced, and always prayerfully considered?
What if we paid off their school loans, gave them one weekend a month off to be with family, and encouraged creativity even when it includes flat out failure?…
What if the “little children” among us…though they are not children but full-fledged adults…lead our future? What if we followed the lead of the pastors of a young age?