I want to spend several weeks exploring the idea of where we are right now in the CGGC, particularly as we anticipate looking forward into the future and discerning where the Lord wants us to go and what He wants us to do as His people. Some of what I share will be from a broader view – where the CGGC reflects what’s going on across the larger evangelical church in North America. At other times, the sense will be much more specific to the CGGC and where we find ourselves in this critical moment.
We lived through another polar vortex this week in the Midwest! Every time I walked outside and felt the sting of temperatures well under zero, I was quickly reminded of something: I’m getting old – I’m not as young as I used to be. The half century mark is on the near horizon and there are numerous ways in which my body reminds me on a regular basis that I’m not as young as I used to be.
When I look across the collection of pastoral leadership in the CGGC, I’m regularly reminded that we’re not as young as we used to be: we’re getting old. A couple of years ago Barna Research released data on the aging of American pastors that compared the year 1992 to 2017. In that 25 year span, this is what they found when looking at the age of pastors in the U.S.:
In 1992, the average age of Protestant pastors was 44 years old and one in three were under the age of 40. In 2017 the average age was 54 and only one in seven were under the age of 40.
With the data we have available in the CGGC (it’s partial data – we don’t have every age of every pastor serving in the CGGC), I can tell you that we reflect these numbers and probably even look a little older than the national averages found in Barna’s research. We are aging fast.
This challenge has a couple of important aspects that we must come to grips with. 1) We have not done an adequate job of raising up leaders in the emerging generations. This is something that we must own and commit to changing and changing fast. This simple fact should grieve us. The second aspect offers some hope but it’s not without its own challenges: 2) the younger leaders that are being developed and raised up today have very little tolerance for maintaining the status quo. They’re hungry for change, seemingly more serious and more desperate to see a move of God in their world and they’ll have little patience for the status quo.
Here’s the encouraging sign I’ve seen in the recent past: we have more young leaders than we realize. I’ve been surprised this past year by the number of young men and women the Lord is raising up and deploying to lead. We need to let them lead. We need to invest in their leadership and encourage their leadership. We need to let them bring about change through their leadership. We need to let go of the status quo and allow God to stir up a new generation, the next generation who will help lead us all into a greater obedience to our Father as we embrace the mission that He has for us.
I’m not afraid of getting old – it happens to the best of us. I am afraid of missing out on what God wants to do through the next generation of leaders that He’s raising up. I don’t want to miss it or stand in the way. I can’t get younger at this point, but I can invest in those who are younger so that they can step fully into all that God has called them to do.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 13, No. 5