UMC vs. NFL Coaches

Okay. Maybe I’m frustrated and my opinions maybe completely factless and biased.
But why do I get the feeling that the UMC does not cherish young clergy as much as they say they do?
And it feels like during appointment seasons, the ‘seasoned veterans’ get the first considerations where people like me, noobs, get the last choices. But I’m not complaining about that.
There just seems to be no balance.

Look at the NFL. 32 teams.
4 rookie coaches. Jim Zorn – Washington Redskins. Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons. Jim Harbaugh – Baltimore Ravens. Tony Saparno – Miami Dolphins.

Their records? They’re all 6-4.

But there is balance in the NFL. They value the proven veterans and they want to roll the dice with up and coming coaches. When Bill Cowhers wants to back to coaching, there will be teams lined up to try to hire him. I’m sure that if Bill Parcells wanted to coach, some team will hire him.

Next season, Steve Spagnuolo is probably going to be courted again by several teams to be their head coach. Guess how many years he’s had as a head coach in the NFL? 0. (He could’ve had the Redskins job this season if he wanted. But the story is he declined.)

I feel that many are in agreement that things need to change in the UMC.
Why not shake things up?
Why not do the appointments backwards one year, starting with the younger clergy being appointed first?

In the secular world, new ideas are valued, welcomed even. And most of the times, the people that bring forth a new idea, a new way of doing things are from a different and younger generation. Why is that in the church, particularly UM churches, we’re sticking to the “this worked before and it’ll work today” mentality? (mind you, I know that’s a broad and general statement).

In the Cal-Pac, I’ve heard talks about raising younger clergy, changes and so forth. But for the most part, it seems like it’s just talk.

When are we going to start putting money where our mouth is?

Latest Comments

  1. David says:

    Word on the street is that there was a movement a few years ago where older clergy would be appointed to the smaller struggling churches to help guide them, and allow some of the younger clergy to take some of the larger churches. Of course, that went hand-in-hand with the movement to radicalize the pay structure of the church such that all salaries were paid to the Conference, and then redistributed back out to the clergy with the clergy receiving the salary commensurate with their experience and quality of service. Needless to say, this failed. And until the days return where the larger churches want the young up-and-comer for the purpose of raising the church and pastor together, it is unlikely to happen. Welcome to bureaucracy, which means that in order to fix a problem we create three others, rather than stripping down, we build more and more infrastructure.

  2. jim says:

    I hear you. Not to pick, but:

    There has to come a time though when we admit:

    1. We don’t know what goes on behind cabinet doors.
    2. Generalizing based on our own experience doesn’t reflect the reality of the thing.
    3. Sometimes others can see us in ways that we cannot.

    Sometimes I would like to move the conversation away from younger and older clergy and towards effective clergy. I think this can encompass all age groups.

  3. Joseph says:

    I completely agree with you, Jim.
    I’m a little impatient when it comes to the ordination process, and I’m also tired of going to district meetings and realizing that the average age seems to be 50. I mean, I don’t want to hear from my dad, ‘when i was your age’ therefore, there’s no way I want to hear from any pastors that I don’t know tell me, ‘when i was your age.’
    And I know that my feelings have no merit or facts and there are A LOT of things that I don’t know or am aware of.
    But I can still vent (a little) right? 🙂

    Thanks for your comments, Jim and David.

  4. stephanieG says:

    One person’s experience can be factless and biased and just venting. When several, SEVERAL young clergy feel that way and there is evidence that we are burning out or leaving out because of it, there is a problem. Effectiveness is key, I don’t care if an older clergy, a licensed local pastor, or a retired pastor gets a certain appointment as long as it is because they are well-matched with the appointment and have a chance to be effective and fruitful. But that does not always seem to be the case.

    And as you point out, Joe, it is not the young clergy that started the young clergy buzz.

    It is the powers that be that started saying: ‘we need young clergy, we want young clergy, we value young clergy as leaders in bring the church into the current century.’ If there is frustration on our part, it is because the statements were made. And it is there as part of the Four Areas of Focus.

    So, we, the young clergy, we are now getting all this attention but not necessarily being placed in settings where we can be effective, think outside the box, or supported. Hence the frustration. It seems like the church sees the vision, we are ready to go there with them but the church is not ready to “put their money where their mouth is.”

    I don’t want special treatment as young clergy. But I want to be put in a place to be effective and not die a slow death. And I do notice when the church leaders say, We need change to reach young people but are not willing to go there. If I am urged to pursue leadership that will rock the boat, challenge the status quo, and live out the Gospel in our current culture, it is only fair to throw that challenge back up to the system itself. Practice what you preach or you will lose us. I want to be a part of the system but I refuse to stay in the system only to be another disillusioned middle-aged pastor that church leaders are trying to change in 20-30 years.

    How’s that for venting? 🙂

  5. Dan says:

    AMEN! AMEN! Fact of the matter, our old wineskins are bursting. I’m getting fed up with it myself. It was so refreshing to me to go to a breakfast with a bunch of baptist (GASP!) pastors and to hear of even small victories that God is doing in their churches than to go to my district clergy meeting and hear collective defeat. It’s often said more implicitly than explicitly.

    There’s so much I could vent about. I’m afraid though of being as honest as you tend to be, Joseph. The higher-ups don’t want to hear it anyway.

  6. Joseph says:

    I’ve never been the kind to hide words. I think I made quite a few upset at Wesley too.
    But, if the higher-ups “black-list” me (not that they do, but i’m just saying), so be it. I’d figure God has called me to be a pastor and no one on earth can stop that.

    But over the years, I’ve learn to express myself respectfully and out of love.

    I wish, though, I get a chance to say this to the higher-ups in person.

  7. jimmorrow says:

    I hope you know that I’m not on the attack. The more time I spend with older clergy, the more I realize that we can be true colleagues and also that in many respects I need them or I won’t be a good minister or even Christian.

    In my own area, I don’t want this to be yet another point of division–we’re good enough at doing this in other ways.

    I am also one (and I don’t expect others to be this way) that chooses the way of the grass roots and one to get inside of and cooperate with a system in order to change it.

    Peace, dude. Have a great time in your ministry!

  8. Joseph says:

    Jim – 🙂 in no way did i perceive your comment as an attack.
    Contrary to how I may come off, I do appreciate the insights and the teachings of older clergy members and respect them very much.
    I too believe that change needs to happen from the inside out. But it is a daunting task. I don’t mean, let’s get rid of all the older clergy! or even, GIVE ME A CHANCE!
    but, let’s recognize that there is a need for change and actively pursue ways to go about that. And again, I’m not saying we’re not doing that. but we all can be more active and productive in making things better. and as Gandhi said, ‘be the change that you wan to see’ and I’m trying. 🙂 thanks, dude.

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