Alban Weekly | Passing wisdom to the next generation of leaders

2 months ago

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Passing wisdom to the next generation of leaders
You've no doubt seen studies showing that American mainline Protestant clergy are aging.
More than 68 percent of clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are over the age of 56, an increase of almost 10 percent in the last decade. In the Episcopal Church, more than 55 percent of clergy are over 55, with more than 40 percent of priests expected to retire in the next eight years. The average United Methodist elder is 53.5 years old, the average local pastor is 54.1, and the average deacon is 51.4. In more than one Protestant denomination, retirements outpace ordinations by 2 to 1.
Denominational meetings are filled with discussion and anxiety about what these statistics mean for the life, health and future of the church. Will we have enough clergy to serve our congregations when the wave of retirements hits? Will we be able to pay retirement benefits and rising health care costs? Should we rethink educational requirements for ministry and consider new ways to encourage more people to pursue lay and ordained ministerial vocations? Some denominations have initiatives to recruit and support younger clergy, but will those be enough?
These are all significant institutional questions, and we have no choice but to continue to wrestle with them in hopeful, candid, careful ways. Indeed, these questions may well represent opportunities for the renewal and growth of congregations and denominations alike. Together, we will find a way forward, most likely with a greater need for congregational lay leadership, with fewer clergy and probably with higher bills all around.
As I look at the statistics, though, I wonder more about wisdom -- specifically, the transfer of wisdom from one generation to the next, and what may get lost along the way.
 Read more from Nathan E. Kirkpatrick »
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 A Guide to Ministry Self-Care: Negotiating Today's Challenges with Resilience and Grace
by Richard P. Olson, Ruth Lofgren Rosell, Nathan S. Marsh, and Angela Barker Jackson
Ministry has never been an easy path, and the challenges of today's changing church landscape only heighten the stress and burn-out of congregational leaders. A Guide to Ministry Self-Care offers a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of both the causes of stress and strategies for effective self-care. Written for both new and long-time ministers, the book draws on current research and offers practical and spiritual insights into building and maintaining personal health and sustaining ministry long term. The book addresses a wide range of life situations and explores many forms of self-care, from physical and financial to relational and spiritual.
Learn more and order the book » 
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