Where have the young ministers gone? More and more I read statistics that show the pastorate is graying across most evangelical denominations. And in my personal experience, more and more young ministers do not want to make their tie to a denomination too firm, or they just avoid it altogether. One seminary professor I spoke with recently remarked that we were not facing a demographical problem in the near future; we are smack in the middle of one. In his words, in ten years there will not be enough pastors to head up the churches we have now.
Why is this happening? I would love to hear from some who either know pastors in this category, or are in it themselves.
Some thoughts on what I think is going on.
Often as denominations grow they become overly bureaucratic and entrenched in their ways. Young ministers sometimes find themselves in the unenviable position of accepting their grandfather’s culture and fitting into a top-heavy system, or bucking the trend and fighting tension along the way.
Often an “old guard” confuses theological and doctrinal integrity with cultural norms they are comfortable with. Instead of discerning the things that just simply change with time apart from doctrinal cornerstones, they may confuse the two causing more tension and frustration in younger ministers trying to reach younger generations.
There may be far too much individualism built into a younger generation of pastors. Where previous generations may have been more amenable to accepting the “way things are” and working with the system, the last two or so generations have been raised on cultural flux and change for the sake of it. They are used to change to a degree that they may grow to dislike stability, which is far from a good thing.
The calling of pastor is a pathetic shadow of what it should be. The last several decades have seen the degrading of the biblical calling of spiritual shepherd to a specialized and under trained form of marketing guru. I am convinced that most evangelical pastors, if asked to describe their role as pastor, would sound more like business executives and therapists than spiritual shepherds. If being a pastor now means you could do a similar job across the street for three times the pay, then why exactly should one become a pastor?