The blogosphere is reacting to a fairly interesting post on Senior Pastors age. It basically states that only 1 in 7 Senior Pastors Is under the age of 40. (Article) Stephen McAlpine has a typically theological response, decrying the direction of the church here. After a long discussion with a minister from another denomination today I have to say I think Stephen may have a point. The absence of ‘Jesus’ and ‘mission’ in the denomination of my friend (not Stephen) left me feeling depressed and my friend concerned for where his movement is going.
Where Jesus is being preached, the Holy Spirit relied upon, and the people being mobilised for sharing their faith, churches are growing. Where churches rely upon their own human wisdom and disregard Jesus and the Bible, the church is shrinking. Thats reality. (Just one source of many)
I did want to comment on succession and my hope for this coming generation. In my generation of Pastors I have seen so many go. So many fall to the perils of internal church conflict. The pain of expectations of growth and revival shattered. Ministry is not easy. Its like trying to maintain the strings on a guitar. If one of the strings is frayed or broken, the tune does not sound quite right. Having an effective church means understanding that at any point at least 20% of any aspect of your church is probably ineffective. Leading a church takes heavy doses of prayer and intimacy with God, but also takes Godly wisdom and discernment, and human skill.
Some who felt called to ministry are just not suited. They do not have the skills or stubbornness to continue. That is just reality. I do not want to sound arrogant, as though I have it all together. I feel like I am only just starting to grasp at what I need to do.
My hope for the next generation is that they will persevere and pray. That they won’t expect ministry, churches and even opportunities to be handed to them. My fear is that for some of this generation so much has been handed to them that resilience is not something they acquire. For many, knowledge is a click away, music is something to be consumed, and if something does not work it is thrown away. That is not their fault. It is the environment they have inherited.
Church, mission and community does not just get handed to you. The spiritual battle is real. People are unreliable, contentious, have ungodly desire for power and they are sinful. It has always been that way. The expectation of ministry needs to be realistic but not shattering.
My experience of Church is that it has been bruising, wounding, exciting, thrilling, wonderful, terrible, exhilarating, scary and fulfilling all at the same time. I have felt like quitting on Monday more times than I can remember. I have also felt on top of the world on more Sunday nights than I can remember.
The Church has continued for 2000 years and my faith and belief in Jesus and His mandate and presence in this world means I think it will continue until He returns. Young leaders will do more with the next church than what I have ever done or could imagine. They have authenticity, passion and an innate ability to understand culture, peoples emotions and what works far better than the generation that came before. They are innovative and have a sense of what works. They have a strong sense of justice and care for the world and the people they are inheriting.
The best is yet to come.