The Future of Mennonite Pastors?

Through a variety of observations and conversations, I believe, we, as Mennonite Church Canada, have a lead pastor problem.  When those love-able baby boomers ever decide to retire (at 67 now?), there are going to be a lot of churches looking for lead pastors.

I know that our church conference pays people much smarter (and tactful) than me to look after these kind of things.  But there is one little thing observation, I think, that might going under the radar.

Let’s back up the boat up a bit.

Here in Mennonite Church Manitoba (MCM), we have something called Youth Ministry Fellowship.  Basically, all the people who work in youth ministry (usually paid pastors) get together every month or two to share, pray, eat, laugh, cry, plan and keep each other sane.

I have been attending these meetings for the past 7 ½ years, and they are one of the most life giving meetings I’ve been a part of.

Over my 7 ½ years of attending, I have seen approximately 25 different people come and go through those meetings.

And of those 25 or so, how many do you think ended up as senior/lead pastors at MCM congregations?

Three.

Just you so can read that again… Three.  3/25. That’s 12%.

That means that 88% of young pastors (generally under 35 with a university education who both love God and the church enough that they are willing to give up their weekends at the cabin) have not transitioned to lead pastors.

Now, I know that many of them stay as youth or associate pastors, change careers, find out that being a pastor isn’t just working one hour a week on Sunday, find out they don’t like being a pastor, etc. (Of special note, a certain segment have actually ceased going to church entirely.  From pastor to ECO (Easter/Christmas only) in 5 years.  That’s worth another thread someday).

But 88% of youth pastors not becoming lead/senior pastors?

If any of our churches simply thought: “Oh, the replacement for Pastor Baby Boomer is across the hall”, or “Oh, the replacement for Pastor Baby Boomer is a youth/associate pastor at a different church”, they have a 12% chance of being right.

So, my next couple of posts will be contemplating some thoughts on this.

1)      Change the job description (and expectations) of being a senior pastor

2)      Look elsewhere than youth pastors to replace lead/senior pastors

3)      Congregations finding new ways to both engage God and God’s people.

And as someone who hasn’t decided which side of that 88/12 split I want to be on, I look forward to the conversation.

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