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Young Clergy Meeting, pt. 2

We put out a survey through our social networks for any young candidates/clergy to take. This unscientific survey guided our conversation.

Survey Highlights:
  • Available from February 21-March 2, 2009
  • 125 people responded
  • We used Google Documents to write the survey, publish the form and collect the results in a database format
  • Most people were between 26-35 yrs old
  • Every jurisdiction & almost every conference was represented

How can we connect?

  • 88 - Having jursidictional gatherings
  • 83 - Communicating between conferences on best practices
  • 73 - Covenant groups
  • 54 - National event
  • 46 - Writing projects/theology/journal articles
  • Others included: website, partnerships with mentors, conference gatherings, cross-conference initiatives, online networking, network with colleagues of all ages

What trends emerged?

  • Burnout
  • Gaining respect from more experienced clergy
  • Isolation
  • Educational debt
  • Healthy first appointments
  • Support in candidacy process
  • Recruiting more young clergy
  • Leadership at local & conference level
  • Dynamics of leading dying churches
  • Balancing ministry, school & family
  • Desire collaboration over competition

Notes from the Discussion on Thursday, March 5

My fear is that we’re just complaining about things that every generation has had to deal with. What’s unique to our place in time?

I feel that many of us who begin ministry at 25 come out of seminary and feel that to get respect from peers who are our parents age we must sacrifice self-care in order to make some unknown achievements.

We have to be clear thinking about generational differences. A primary distinctive is that we have been taught collaboration since day one.

A fear based mentality and performance cycles set up appointment process to fail.

Name that it's more important to be vulnerable and healthy and whole than to not say something that will come back to haunt me later.

My question is are we more concerned with saving the denomination or making disciples?

Instead of focusing on saving the denomination, let's get the denomination to focus on saving whoever Jesus in interested in saving.

Burnout happens during life changes as well, being overwhelmed by new relationships, new children, new situations. If one has a support system including people who have been there and done that, things are much easier.

We recognize burnout is nothing new. But we feel called to help young clergy connect in ways unique to our place in time. Connecting online and in person are both needed. We are poised to use technology to connect us in brand new ways.

My master's in organizational leadership & ethics and I think what is required is older clergy handing younger clergy the microphone.

I agree. If you tell me who to commune with, it won't be pretty...

Isolation

For me technology leads to the opportunity for total isolation. No one has to "know" the "real" me if I never have to talk face-to-face.

How does isolation damage someone young in their career?

Technology does not prevent isolation. I am reading Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps right now, part of the thesis is that technology can be isolating with a facade of being connected.

But since I’ve been on Facebook, more people have wished me happy birthday than ever before!
I believe that community is best fostered in person and supported via technology.

I don't think many of these issues are new, however I see this as an opportunity to hopefully change it so they are not continued issues.

We could "solve" the crisis of young clergy and not be in any better shape. We could just have a lot more people in not good shape.

Efficiency and order are the enemy of community.

Why do I get the feeling we believe the same things but saying them in different ways?

What if this is a blessing, we have to radically change our structure and instead of trying to fix it, what if we poured into our younger clergy and got them ready to lead?

Why have many churches stopped identifying teens who might be called into ministry?

Things clergy need to be healthier and more supported in ministry: 1) breathing room to make mistakes and to learn from them; 2) the freedom to be appointed to places where their gifts are used and they have room to grow; 3) the willingness to listen to their ideas when they bring them to the table.

Things that young clergy need to do to be healthier: 1) take opportunities that come to them and not sit on the sideline; 2) self-care... TAKE TIME OFF; 3) community with other young clergy persons, but also community with clergy across generations to hear their voices and wisdom and ideas

UM Campus Ministries are absolutely vital. If we do not support them, help to find the right leadership with clergy who have specific callings to campus ministries we are doing ourselves a great disservice.

There has to be room for the gospel to come up with people that we would never have come up with.

We know that this is not a new phenomena, but want to address it for our time

We are not saying that previous generations did it poorly, but why can't we make progress?

There is no interest in crushing what has gone before.

We want leadership development for ourselves and our colleagues; but also for the new class of clergy coming after us.

Fellowship and community follow mission. Do something with mission and the fellowship will follow.

It seems the system rewards those who, to some level, neglect the local church for the system.

It’s easy for us to come across poorly to other generations.

A new generation for a new time in United Methodist History.

Let's reposture how we relate to persons right behind us.

P&G moves everyone around every 1.5 years to get new blood in the conversation. Tide has to rebrand itself every 6 months. Infusion of new energy is so important.

I like the idea that I come up with, but am less comfortable with the change of others. Creating a culture of receiving change.

Everyone has certain types of blinders which block our view.

I find the opportunity to get behind another’s ideas really puts gas in my engine though.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Jenny:

I'm throwing this out there on a flyer--would there be any interest in a comprehensive writing project seeking to address the issues that emerged in your survey? I might be at a place in about another month and a half where I could work on a project like that...maybe an eBook.

BAS
jenny said…
Ben, that would be fantastic! It definitely wasn't very scientific but still gives some great information. Let me know more of what you're thinking and I can send the raw data your way. This would be great...

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