I invite you to read the article Leaders share best practices to attract young clergy by the United Methodist News Service. After you have read it, I want to hear what you think.
I am glad to hear that the denomination is concerned with the lack of young clergy. I believe that this is an issue across mainline denominations and not just for The United Methodist Church. However, I think that this article exposes some errors and outlines some good things in the approach to address this issue. Here is what I read in this article and my response.
- Use of the word “attract” – I think that we are discovering as a denomination that an attractional model of church is no longer effective. I think that this is true for clergy as well. As a young clergy person, I am not particularly attracted by the denomination, but I am excited about the opportunity to be in mission, renew the church and change the world. I think words like encourage, empower or equip may be more appropriate.
- Focus on the annual conference – I believe that it is a false perception that the annual conference is critical in encouraging young people to be clergy. The annual conference provides a role in the ongoing process of becoming clergy, but I would argue that the primary encouragement and culture in which one hears the call is the local church. I suggest that the focus for creating a culture of the call at the level of the local church.
- Presence in seminaries – Amelia Sims, director of Residency in Ministry of the North Alabama Conference is quoted as saying: “It is up to us to really think about and be able to articulate why younger adults would be able to grow and flourish in their ministry in this annual conference.” I think that along with a focus in the local church this has great potential. Some of the best students that I knew while at seminary were not pursuing clergy orders. Empowerment and the desire from all people for young people to be an integral part of ministry is important.
I am passionate about young clergy being in ministry. I am certain that The United Methodist Church will continue to offer a distinct way for people to live out their faith in Jesus Christ that is both relevant and faithful. This will depend on current and future generations of leaders.
How do you respond to the article? What do you think about my responses?