Monday, July 21, 2008

Members vs. Constituents

This article as actually posted in May on the UMC website, but someone just forwarded it to me and I thought it worthy of this space.

United Methodist membership down, constituency up

For me, it raises the same sort of issues the last article raised. When we are looking towards the future of the church, are we asking the right questions?

Another look at worship trends

This may be some important research reported on by USA Today. It seems that while 'churched' folks are attending church less often (we knew that) those we would call 'unchurched or attending more often. I think non-denominational churches, some of which have average worship attendances higher than their membership, already get this. But what about the rest of us?

'Unchurched' worshipping more, 'churched' less?
USA Today




Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Young Leaders

One of the thing the Futures Committee is thinking and praying about is the initiative to raise up young clergy leadership. My friend Rev. Barbara Ruth, District Superintentent of the Corpus Christi District wrote to following piece for the latest edition of The Witness, our Southwest Texas Conference paper. I asked Barbara's permission to repost it here. I would love to hear your comments.



We must listen to, respect young leaders
Rev. Barbara Ruth

I had the privilege of leading a conversation in a dialogue session at annual conference. The topic was recruiting and retaining young clergy, and the conversation we had was lively and way too short. Out of that conversation, I have created this “Top Ten List of Ways to Discourage Young Candidates/Clergy.”

10. Don’t listen to young adults. You do the talking instead.

9. Have no ministries in your local church for any young people past the age of 18. Do not support campus ministries for college students.

8. Never consider young adults for leadership in ministries or in worship. Even when they express interest in serving on the SPRC in the position the Discipline provides for a young adult, don’t nominate them.

7. If a young adult begins to discuss the possibility of having a call to ordained ministry, discourage him or her immediately with remarks like, “Oh, you don’t want to do that! Think about how your life would be like living in a fishbowl. Besides the pay isn’t that great and you’ll have a lot of school debt after seminary.”

6. To a candidate for ordained ministry, emphasize how long and gruesome the process of candidacy is.

5. Tell young people who inquire about candidacy to wait a year or two until they have more experience in ministry before they start asking about that. Delay certification until you are absolutely positive that they can be equal to pastors with considerable experience.

4. Don’t keep in contact with young seminarians, especially those who are studying far away. Make sure they have an opportunity while in seminary to know how lonely ordained ministry can be.

3. Keep secret as much as possible the means by which seminarians can seek book money or scholarship funds from the Board of Ordained Ministry or local churches. This will enable them to come out of seminary with more debt.

2. Keep candidates guessing about all the paperwork that gets filled out along the way by requiring that it be turned in to a variety of persons across the conference. Make sure that this process is so confusing that the average pastor cannot explain it.

1. If you have a young adult pastor, be sure you treat him or her like the teenager who mows your lawn. Communicate regularly about his or her lack of experience. Never, ever acknowledge a young adult pastor’s authority as a leader.

Had a strong reaction to this Top Ten List? I understand. I heard everything in this list in the brief time we had in the diaIogue session. It’s not pleasant to hear that you may be part of the problem of why young adults are missing in our churches and in ordained ministry. It’s hard to hear the frustration of young adults who want desperately to be part of both the general and ordained ministry of the Church but find the burden is on them to be persistent in finding their places in a maze of expectations and requirements at every level of the Church’s communal life.

However, this is the reality many experience. If we care about young adults and young clergy, then we have no choice but to listen, listen, listen to them, and I hope we will also learn how to do some things differently in response to what we hear.