Friday, April 11, 2008

The New Old Boy Network

I need to spend more time with our younger clergy! What a breath of fresh air!

Last week while having lunch with one of our younger clergy, I was refreshed to see they were not buying into the new old boy network. Yes, I said that right, the “new old boy network.” I can remember about 15 years ago talking about the old boy network and thinking that I was not a part of it. I was shocked to realize that I had allowed myself to become a part of a new old boy network. The interesting thing is the new network includes women so I guess I need to find a new name for what looks just like the old but with a different group of people. Maybe I should call it the “old church network.”

While sharing lunch they shared with me their frustration in not having anyone to share their ideas with and talk about them. It was clear to me that they felt that the “more mature” clergy didn’t have time for them or were not truly supportive of their ministry. I think what really is happening is that we are not listening to them and helping them develop their ideas. In the Lewis Center report this week it talks about the need for younger clergy in our system so that they bring the energy and the ability to connect to their generation.

I have watched excellent younger clergy come through the system, be ordained, and then leave for another denomination or become disillusioned and leave the ministry completely. There are not enough young clergy entering our system to fill the needs of the future church. We need to make changes and begin to listen to our younger clergy friends. Wait a minute; we need to make sure we have younger clergy friends first. I plan to make sure I connect with more of this new generation and learn from them.

What got me thinking about this was a suggestion from my young friend that we should appoint younger clergy in clusters where they can support one another and share ideas, problems, joys, struggles and the life of ministry. Wow! What a novel idea. Who would ever think of appointing clergy to an area where there is a support base and the ideas to touch the world could feed off of one another? It would be wonderful to be appointed in the middle of one of these clusters so that we could learn from them. Guess that would be a novel idea too, us old timers, learning from the young.

Oh my, just writing this is making me feel old. My presence here through MySpace, Facebook and now blogs is starting to open my eyes to new possibilities. I hope some of my new young friends will continue to open my eyes to new worlds that I have been missing. I hope some other members of the new old church network will join me on this journey.

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