HUGE question facing KY, TN, MS, AL, GA, VA, WV and the Carolinas. Will the called Millennials (18-28 year olds), seeking to serve God in vocational Christian ministry, go country? Will they head out into the deep rural communities of east TN or western KY or north AL with the intention of bringing the Gospel to people in very small churches from very small counties with limited amenities.
There is currently a crisis taking place. In the southeast, there is tremendous need for church staff members. As Builder and Boomer pastors are coming close to retirement, they are desperately looking for young men and women to serve as youth, children, music, and education ministries, eventually assume the role of senior pastor. But there seems to be VERY few young adults willing to go and serve out in the country.
By the vast majority, called Millennials seek to serve in the cities or at least in communities where there are restaurants, shopping centers and some entertainment options. Additionally, the Millennials are worried about being accepted in these churches which are predominately led by Builders, who believe in KJV only, demand women to be in dresses, will not allow contemporary music whatsoever, and you better not use a laptop in ministry because that is equivalent to handling a snake. The generational gap is EXTRAORDINARY.
But the generational gap goes both ways. Builder and Boomer pastors are somewhat scared of the 20-somethings as well. They are not confident that these children (in their minds you have to be 30 to be an adult) are competent to lead their church ministries with integrity and maturity. They look at a young candidate as being a danger and possible destroyer of what they have worked so hard to build and protect.
I talked with two KY and TN strategists yesterday and asked this question. “You need youth, children, education and music ministers. I have 40 graduates every year coming out of Campbellsville Univ. with degrees in ministry. Will your churches hire a 22 year old, single adult with limited experience?” The answer. “We desperately need them, but I’m not sure if they would get hired.” I wonder if they would even put in a resume.
My conclusion. We have a growing problem which will definitely result in leadership coming from within the church, not without. It will result in more churches being planted and growing with young leadership in the major metro areas. It will result in circuit preachers reforming to ministry to multiple smaller congregations in rural communities. It will result in older church and younger churches becoming more and more generational separate.