You Don't Know Jack, Squat, Nuthin', Diddly...

The other day I was having a conversation with someone. This person was describing how they ended up in Perkins. Perkins wasn’t the first choice to be. No, there wasn’t another seminary lined up. Rather there was a job in a church in New Mexico (I don’t remember exactly what the position was, but something to do with children). The church flew in this applicant to participate in a few weekend activities including a Sunday worship time.

As far as this person could tell the weekend was great. After having time with some of the kids and families there was already a small connection. However, the church called (on this person’s birthday) to inform them they offered the position to another applicant. This person had to know so the question was asked what persuaded the final decision. The church thought this person was too young (22 years) and wouldn’t be able to relate to some of the situations working with families would present.

That got me thinking. I’ve never faced that. At least I haven’t dealt with it. I’ve been working closely with youth and other areas of the church since I was about the same age as this person was. There have been a few times when the question of whether I was too inexperienced with church leadership to be assigned to certain positions within the church. I don’t think, however, I have ever heard someone tell me I was too young to understand something. Maybe someone should have, I dunno!

It’s actually been quite the opposite. I’ve often questioned how much of what I was allowed to do was because of my age. What I mean to say is people were just excited to see someone young interested in church. I know for a fact I have benefited from some of our conference’s (SWTX) initiatives on younger clergy. The first time I met with a DS to talk about ministry I left with books, schedules, agendas and other stuff (some of these things were what you have to request and pay for to have them mailed to you). I’ve wondered as well how much is too much when it comes to branding young clergy. No, I’m not against it. I don’t want us overcome by some of the desperate statistics that tell us how many of our clergy will be retired in the next decade and just go after anybody.

If our churches are doing what they’re supposed to, we probably wouldn’t have to go after anyone. This calling comes after you. Again, I’m not knocking, questioning or criticizing what our conferences are doing. I’m glad they are concerned with it. I’m just making a few observations based on some of my experience. So, what about it? Is there a certain age or life situation (i.e. marriage, children etc) that has to be met in order to be able to work professionally in ministry? Is there any difference from other fields? Is this person’s experience isolated? What would benefit younger clergy/leaders most? Do the old people just need to get out of the way (ha ha, it’s a joke!)?

Stay blessed…john

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