Sunday, September 16, 2007

Young Clergy

In a way, I like being referred to as 'young', including in the sense as a 'young pastor', but like Will Deuel, I find the appellation a bit odd:

All of that adds up to one simple fact: I was commissioned as a probationary Elder just a couple of months prior to my 39th birthday. The irony is that while I was at the district picnic more than one person commented, “You’re a pastor? You’re a young pastor!”

To quote Chris Rock, “Forty isn’t young. Forty is only young if you die when you’re forty.”

If I’m thought of as a young pastor at 39, there’s a problem in the church. I am a youthful 39, but I’m still 39.


The Thief said...

When I started full-time ministry, I was a young-looking 30. I just finished the process to be called elder in full connection at age 35. I know very few UM pastors who are my age or younger, and the conference is forever talking about how to attract young clergy - yet they don't do anything that might attract us. Then they wonder why we're not a conference full of young clergy (shakes head)

Anonymous said...

I was a fully orained "elder" at the ripe old age of 28 and I recently turned 31. What I found interesting was that although there were other young ordinands in my class, I probably bonded more with the second career people. Youth is not something that is inherently valuable in clergy, althoug its complete absence would be devastating. Conference agendas should never be to attract young clergy as much as simply attracting the best clergy available. At annual conference this past year, I came very close to voicing a vote in clergy session against a young probationary member who was up for ordination, but abstained instead; I remain unconvinced that this person will be a good pastor.

Still, I have very good friends in the clegy ranks who are well under the age of 40, and I am so very thankful for them and their ministry!

JD said...

I still think many people in mainline churches still see clergy as "stately" and "wise" and believe it either almost impossible to have any of those qualities when you're under 60, or they are suprised at seeing anyone fresh out of high school go on to seminary, "You'll miss out on so much!"

I cannot count the times, I myself, have been suprised to see a young priest. I did not know they existed. :)

Good thing for us all, God doesn't have an age requirement.


gavin richardson said...

that's my excuse, i'll go through ordination when i actually look older & not so much like a teenager.

Dale Tedder said...

I entered seminary at 23 and graduated at 26. The average age at Candler was about 33. I felt like the youngest pastor in the conference until about three or four years ago (I am now 41).

I heard more "you're so young" comments than I know what to do with...followed by a pat on the head and a "you remind me of my grandson."

I later attended an evangelical seminary for additional training (at the ripe old age of 28 years old) and was the oldest BY FAR. I wonder what they're doing to attract young pastors-to-be that we're not.

JD said...

Dale asked:

"I wonder what they're doing to attract young pastors-to-be that we're not?" 101 maybe?


jim said...

Dale asked:

"I wonder what they're doing to attract young pastors-to-be that we're not?"

They can beat up Mark Driscoll?

rocksalive777 said...

Now that you mention it, every pastor I've known, with the exception of my father, has been over forty. When I, fresh into my sophomore year of college, first spoke with my current pastor (a second-career person herself), I got a look of disbelief.

Come to think of it, even my friends who say they want to go into full-time ministry at some point in their lives want to do it after spending a few years in another job.

Maybe this goes along with the trend of "starter" careers, homes, and spouses.

Elizabeth said...

I'm always late to the conversation. I started seminary at 21, and was commissioned at 24, ordained at 27. When I got to my first appointment, the church had a van and the policy for driving it was that you had to be 25 to drive the van! I couldn't drive it, I told them. I think they forgot about how young I was. They had to change the policy for me ;)