I was in a group of clergy yesterday discussing current seminary training and preparation of the next generation of church leaders. Be advised: this is not about all current seminarians, but only about the young(est) of them.
One of us, having noticed some generational differences that brought up questions about readiness, shared some lament about connecting and effectively communicating with these younger folk. Many of them are very interested in ministry but not in the traditional pastoral setting. Some, it seems, go to seminary for “what they feel like they missed out on in Sunday School” or for spiritual formation more than for preparation for a career.
As we questioned their (the generation of potential clergy currently in their mid to late 20s and early 30s), we wondered whether or not they were ready to move toward leadership in our denomination.
To this concern, I asked: “Were we ‘ready’ 20 or 30 or 40 years ago?” However ready we were, the church that we have today is the church that we were (obviously) ready to lead, because the church we have today is what it is because of current leadership.
As the health of The United Methodist Church is very much up in the air right now, I wonder if it really behooves us to question the preparedness of the next generation, unless we do so from our knees as we repent for leading it to its current state.