umc needs young clergy “Today’s young adults approach the world differently than young adults did 50, 25, or even 10 years ago. Programs and structures that may have worked in 1985 will not engage today’s young adults in the life of a local church, annual conference, or even the general church.
Furthermore, The United Methodist Church must be prepared to change outdated or ineffective practices in order to respond to the way in which young adults are leading in the church today.” another young clergy blog post When I think about the many gifts that young clergy can bring to the church and world two qualities come to the front of my mind, Hope and Disillusionment.
Young clergy can bring hope. When clergy are “young” they are conduits of Hope. Young clergy confront problems as challenges and look for options. Young clergy gather resources, build on their strengths, view failure as just another lesson, and focus on their destination more than their condition. The young are resilient, flexible, and know that time is an illusion. Young clergy know that ministry worth doing takes more than one lifetime. As I reflected on my own disillusionments with church, my country, my self, ministry, life, I realized that all those I could name were based on an illusion that had dissolved. Illusions like the church system would take care of me; that my congregation would love me and fill my needs for friendship, that my wife (or any one person) could meet all my needs, were far from reality. To be dis-illusioned is painful because it brings out our grief. But aren’t there millions of people disillusioned by their lives? Sometimes disillusionment can express itself in violent ways. Who better than young clergy who have confronted their own disillusionments to stand with and bring healing and hope to those who seek to live real and true. Dis-illusionment is a great gift to all who want to live lives free from illusion.
more stuff One of the biggest needs young clergy can address is to help current members re-envision what God is calling them to do. This may or may not include all those activities and methods that they have been doing for years. Younger clergy can find ways to say farewell to dying ministries and learn to encourage congregants to begin those new ministries that fit the church’s vision and God’s will for the church. Younger clergy have the advantage of fresh ideas and have not yet grown a shell of cynicism of more seasoned clergy. They are better able to see the possibilities rather than the problems.