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How to think about ‘aging pastors’ and ‘scarcity’ of millennials in ministry


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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I would like to take you to a new Barna study that was just released. As the average pastor grows older in America, churches say they are struggling to find young Christians who want to become future pastors.

 Today, half of American pastors are older than 55. In 1992, less than a quarter of pastors, 24 percent were that old. Pastors 65 and older have almost tripled in the last 25 years from 6 percent to 17 percent. Meanwhile, pastors 40 and younger have fallen from 33 percent in 1992 to just 15 percent today.

HOW TO REACH MILLENIALS

DR. REEDER: Barna is saying this is evidence that younger men are not being called into the Gospel ministry and that is a point of concern, which I would agree with him if I thought that was the only thing contributing to this – that, for some reason, the call to the ministry is no longer being extended to young men that God is calling or that there is a decreasing number of those available to be called to the ministry.

I do believe that there is a challenge right now that the evangelical church needs to embrace concerning reaching the millennials. I don’t think you reach the millennials by embracing the culture that surrounds the millennials, but by embracing the millennials that are finding that that culture is empty and bringing a Gospel culture to them.

AGING BOOMERS

Having said that, what about these statistics, themselves? Let me give you four other reasons why this is true. This is true in almost every demographic of vocation at the moment and the reason why is you’re looking at the Boomer generation. The Boomer generation is this gigantic demographic ball that is working its way down the timeline.

Think of a python that swallows a mongoose and watch the mongoose work its way down the length of the python and that’s the way that the Boomer generation has been – that post-World War II extraordinary baby boom that we had. I’m a part of it – I was born in 1948.

Me and my compatriots that were born after World War II all the way up until the mid-1950s have been called the Baby Boomers, this extraordinary population bubble has changed everything – changed the way you did junior high and high school. It changed churches – all of a sudden, there were now youth groups. There weren’t any youth groups before this.

Well, it’s true in the ministry: There was an extraordinary amount of young men and women giving themselves to vocational ministry and, particularly, those who were called to Gospel ministry, specifically, and so that’s just a large bubble.

Well, that means, when you get to the end of their ministry life, which is where most of them are – most of us are – now in our 60s and late 60s, well, that’s just going to be a large demographic statistic. That’s why you’ve got this large number of, “graying” gospel ministers.

PASTORS LIVING LONGER

And, secondly, the old age of 65, people are living longer now. The average death for men has now risen to somewhere between 76 to 78, which means that people are going to stay active longer.

Thirdly, people are healthy longer. Tom, I have been through three different surgeries. I have as much energy as I have ever had, but in the last two years, I have been through three surgeries that could have been life-ending 20 years ago.

Instead, they’re not only life-extending, but energy-renewing in my life. I’ve got amazing energy at my age, in the late 60s, that most people would not have had. I remember looking at people in 60s and 70s and they not only looked older, they acted a lot older.

I’m just using myself as an example: I walk/jog and I do four miles every day. Well, that just wouldn’t have been done years ago. An older person might have taken a leisurely walk, but today we’re much more active physically, which means we’re going to be active vocationally.

We’re not only living longer, we’re more healthy as we live longer and, therefore, want to stay engaged longer.

EVANGELICAL MINISTRY THRIVING

And then, fourth, there is an ecclesiastical and, therefore, theological issue to this. Tom, I’m engaged in the Gospel Reformation Network and you ought to see the young ministers in our Gospel Reformation Network. I am related to the TG4, Together 4 the Gospel, and you ought to see the thousands that come to the conference of young Gospel ministers that come to that. And then I am also on the council of the Gospel Coalition and you ought to see the multiple thousands that come to our conference.

Tom, I believe this: there is no shortage of young ministers in the evangelical segment of Christianity. Go look at the mainline churches and there are very few people going into their ministry. Why? Because why would you go into the ministry? What is believed by those churches is no different than what you can do in a secular vocation – there’s nothing drawing to it, there’s nothing significant to it, there’s nothing distinctive – and there is where you see the plunge in numbers, not in the evangelical wing of the church so much, but in the mainline Protestant and in the Roman Catholic element of the church.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, one of the statistics that Barna brings up, 7 in 10 Protestant pastors say young leaders seem to think other kinds of work are more important than vocational ministry. Even though the statistics aren’t as dramatic in the evangelical circles, do you find that true?

DR. REEDER: I just don’t. I just don’t. I’ve got 14 young men I meet with once a month who are moving toward the ministry. This last month, two young men were just ordained and installed into the Gospel ministry.

I am on the adjunct faculty of two seminaries – Reformed Theological Seminary and Westminster Seminary – and our numbers are up. Those are evangelical seminaries, utterly and fully committed to the inerrancy of the Word, the reformed faith and the vibrancy of it. No, I don’t see it.

Now, I believe that we’ve got a challenge reaching the millennial generation – and I believe that that challenge is profound – and that means the number of those out of that generation called to the ministry.

But, overall, no, I don’t see that. It’s not because I’m living in a fool’s paradise. It’s anecdotal and it is statistical. I read the statistics of my seminary so you watch our Reformed Theological Seminary keeps expanding its campuses, Westminster Seminary keeps expanding its reach and its outreach, Third Millennium is expanding, also, the way it is training pastors in the international world.

CAN’T BE WARMED OVER CHRISTIANITY

And, by the way, to the evangelical world, the key to us maintaining and growing the vibrancy to the millennial generation is not to compromise our message to fit their culture, but it is to bring a Gospel message distinctively.

They already see the emptiness of the social media-driven culture and its paltry notion of friendship and its paltry notion of community.

They’re desirous of community that is meaningful, that has substance to it, and that’s what we should bring, the glory of a transcendent God who dwells among His people and who receives us just as we are, but never leaves us just as we are, saves us by His grace, forgives us of our sins, is at work within us, uses the means of grace – of preaching, prayer, evangelism, discipleship, fellowship – and God-centered worship, not warmed-over musical concerts and calling it worship.

When we begin to engage in the vibrancy of an evangelical witness that is Gospel-driven and centered and Biblically-framed and vibrant with the empowering power of the Spirit of God, that’s what will reach the millennial generation and I see it, I’m experiencing it, and I believe our best days are ahead of us if we stay on Gospel message, in Gospel ministry and on the Gospel mission of making disciples of all the nations.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

2 hours ago

Will Ainsworth slams Democrats for Kay Ivey health ‘October surprise’: ‘Sick,’ ‘despicable’

ENTERPRISE — On Tuesday, a report surfaced questioning the circumstances of a hospital visit then-Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey made in Colorado in 2015. That has led some to suggest the resurfacing of the story was part of a so-called  “October surprise” deployed by Democrats against the incumbent governor and intended to better Ivey’s general election opponent Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox’s chances in next month’s contest.

Ivey has disputed the report in an appearance at the Tuscaloosa Republican Party Lincoln-Reagan Dinner later in the day and called it “plum sad” Maddox’s campaign would resort to such tactics.

On Wednesday after speaking to the Republican Women of Coffee County at the Enterprise Country Club, Republican lieutenant gubernatorial nominee Will Ainsworth also criticized Democrats believed to be behind the report.

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Ainsworth told Yellowhammer News the Ivey report and the weaponization of it was part of the Democratic Party’s “playbook,” and he likened it to what Brett Kavanaugh faced during his U.S. Supreme Court associate justice confirmation process before the U.S. Senate over the past several weeks.

“That’s just the Democrat’s new playbook,” Ainsworth said. “I mean, if you look at what they did to Kavanaugh, what they’re doing to Kay Ivey – they just try to destroy people based on lies. I think that’s sick. I think that’s despicable. I think Governor Ivey is in great health and certainly doing a tremendous job as a leader. I think it’s terrible what they’re trying to do, but they’re desperate, and that’s the only tactic they can go back to.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

5 hours ago

The sky is holding up just fine in Alabama

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” cried Chicken Little in the ancient European folk tale about a manic chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The expression “the sky is falling” has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or inaccurate belief that calamity is looming.

Twenty-five centuries later, lets cue, stage left…Walt Maddox.   The Mayor’s recent stump speech to a business luncheon in Birmingham was a cavalcade of doom and gloom.  A melancholy prognosis based on a miserable catalogue of what the liberal mayor believes is wrong with Alabama.  The Democrat from Tuscaloosa has hitched his caboose to the Chicken Little express.  Destination “Glum Town, USA.”

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Maddox told the suit and tie audience that he fears the millions of Alabamians who drive over the state’s roads face death every day, simply by crossing a bridge.  By his account Alabama’s bridges will collapse at any minute, killing commuters in droves.

The Democratic nominee, wants to bring Obamacare to the state – as his number one priority.  Maddox inferred if Alabama took the “free money,” the state could “afford to build a new UAB, think about that’.  We did think about that Walt, the money isn’t free.  Cash doesn’t fall from the money tree to be scooped up by liberals paying for socialist policies.  He believes “…there are literally two Alabamas.”  Sorry, you are wrong Walt.

While on the subject of free money – a recurring theme throughout the Maddox pitch – he wants to provide every felon released from Alabama’s jails a free iphone, so they can get about their business.  Not sure why, or who pays, but this smacks of the Obama Phone vote buying scandal.

Maddox is endorsed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group “Mom’s Demand Action.”  Despite assurances to the contrary, Maddox toes the liberal anti gun line and is fundamentally opposed to the Second Amendment.  “[L]et me make my position clear. I will never favor taking any existing constitutional right away from any American unless we, as a people, come to the conclusion that restraint of some rights helps ensure the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by all.”  Ummm, ok Mr. Mayor.

Sure, Walt Maddox is erudite, speaks without notes and is photogenic.  But Bobby Kennedy he is not.  There was no uplifting message.   No inspirational vision for Alabama.  There was no call to action.  Instead there was a pall of pessimism.  As Mr. Maddox trashed Alabama’s constitution, he conveyed despondency.  The Democrat downplayed the strong state economy that has a record number of Alabamians working in the state. Dismissed Governor Ivey’s 2019 education budget, the largest in Alabama in a decade.  He seemed disinterested in Alabama’s historically low unemployment.  But he did want to teach felons how to work their new iphones….so there is that.  Seem’s Mayor Chicken Little is afraid of a leaf falling on his tail.

LCDR Greg “GW” Keeley, USN (ret) is the Managing Partner of Dreadnaught. Keeley is a contributor to The Hill, Washington Times, Daily Caller, Fox News. He is a veteran of Iraq and, Afghanistan and served in the U.S Congress as Senior Advisor to the Vice Chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, the Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee and the Chairman of the Republican Senate Policy Committee.

6 hours ago

The “October Surprise” in the governor’s race is something we heard about a year ago?

If this is really the final push for Walt Maddox to get his campaign’s “Kay Ivey is sick” narrative into the news, they may want to try again.

The Alabama Political Reporter published a “bombshell” is just a regurgitation of an old story. Their report includes comments from the former head of ALEA, Spencer Collier, who is currently suing former Governor Robert Bentley and is probably unhappy that Governor Ivey’s office has spent money defending Bentley because the law requires it.

Again, we already heard all of this, from this same outlet, in 2017. Ivey denied it then, too, Collier was part of this denial.

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Pretty damning? I guess.

Or not. Kim Chandler from the Associated Press used the APR report as a jump-off into a story on Ivey’s health. The big takeaway? Ivey’s doctor calls BS.

Ivey said she had altitude sickness during the trip and released a letter from her doctor saying he saw no evidence of a mini-stroke when he examined her a day after her discharge and that hospital tests in Colorado were also negative.

I guess the Collier angle is new, but is this it? The Governor is sick, trust us? Her opponent says she is too sick to be Governor, so vote for him?

There are no public incidents, except clear deception by APR’s Josh Moon and NBC’s affiliate in Mobile portraying some meltdown. There have been no spills, no stumbles, and don’t pretend she not out there on the trail because she is.

If I believed she was too sick to be Governor, why would I vote for a guy I disagree with on most things instead of voting for her and a Lieutenant Governor from the same party with the same general views?

This is Roy Moore 2.0, she must be viewed as unacceptable so you have to vote for the other guy regardless of what he believes.

To further highlight how sad this all is, al.com’s Kyle Whitmire finally got around to writing about how disastrous Walt Maddox’s first campaign ad was and declaring the gubernatorial election over. Whitmire used the APR story in his piece, too, talking about how it is all too little too late.

Don’t bank on that. This is literally the only thing Maddox and his media allies have going for them.

This will get much worse.

Yes, it is October, but this is hardly a surprise.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

6 hours ago

Company seeking to fill 850 jobs between two South Alabama locations on Thursday

According to a press release published by NBC 15, one company is seeking to fill a massive amount of jobs between two of its locations in southwest Alabama on Thursday.

Alorica, “the largest provider of customer experiences to North American consumers,” will attempt to hire 550 employees at its site in Saraland and 300 employees at its Mobile facility.

This comes as a part of the company’s first “National Recruiting Day” spanning more than 80 sites across the United States and Canada on Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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The expansive initiative will focus on growing Alorica’s existing global workforce of more than 100,000.

For those who are unable to attend the hiring event this Thursday, prospective employees can still apply for a position online or by using the company’s walk-in hours Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Alorica’s two Mobile-area locations are:

  • 727 US Hwy 43 (Saraland Blvd.), Saraland, AL 36571
  • 5441 HWY 90 W Suite 1, Mobile, AL 36619

Find out more about the company here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

Ivey’s doctor confirms the governor is in good health

The primary care physician for Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday released a letter confirming the governor is in good health and refuting a report alleging that she had suffered a ministroke in April 2015.

Dr. Brian Elrod of Montgomery, who has been Ivey’s doctor for “many years,” wrote that the governor had indeed been hospitalized at a conference in Colorado that month in 2015, however “extensive” tests conducted at the hospital “were all negative.” Additionally, Elrod himself examined Ivey the day after she was released from the hospital, saying that “I saw no evidence of a transient ischemic attack (ministroke).”

More tests later that year, including an EKG and echocardiogram, were deemed “unremarkable” and “normal.” Then, a cardiologist visit in December 2015 “also showed no new concerns” and “her nuclear imaging study in January of 2016 was likewise unremarkable and suggested ‘a relatively low risk of cardiovascular events.'”

Elrod added that he could not comment “on what condition may have led to her hospitalization in April of 2015,” but that the governor’s health since then “has remained good with no indication of increased cardiovascular risk.”

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In vintage fashion Tuesday night, Ivey responded to a question on the allegations about her health with gusto while hitting at her Democratic opponent, Walt Maddox, who is trailing in the polls by 20 – 25 percent.

“The letter I released today from my doctor clearly confirms what I’ve been saying all along: I’m in good health,” Ivey said.

On the timing of the allegations against her, she added, “It makes me have to assume that Mayor Maddox is desperate because his liberal record is not connecting with Alabamians. Besides, y’all covered this issue a year ago.”

The allegation that Ivey had suffered a ministroke in 2015 was first published last year by the Alabama Political Reporter (APR), with it gaining little to no traction. Now, with Tuesday marking exactly 21 days until the November 6 general election, APR republished the same allegations.

When questioned directly whether she had experienced “stroke-like symptoms,” Ivey responded by saying “altitude illness, they called it.”

The reporter then asked Ivey if she is confident that she is in good health.

“You’re right about that, friend,” Ivey quipped. “No step too high for a high-stepper.”

This comes after Elrod in May released a general letter about the governor, writing that “Governor Ivey has had physicals for the past 15 years, and she is in excellent health.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn