I have been thinking about the post I recently wrote on younger clergy and the conversation it has prompted. I can’t put my finger on it, but I am not satisfied with the post and my articulation of the importance of younger clergy. As I have been chewing on this, I had a thought I am not really sure what to do with:
Of the largest congregations in the UMC today, a significant portion were new church plants that were planted by a younger pastor who is still the senior pastor.
Last year Adam Hamilton listed the ten largest churches in the UMC on his blog. I am not familiar with all of the churches on the list, but I know that three of the top six churches were started by the same person who is currently the senior pastor, and two of the top six were not large churches when the current pastor was appointed to the church. And while I don’t know their ages, I am confident that they were “young” when they planted their churches.
These churches are: Church of the Resurrection (Adam Hamilton), Granger Community Church (Mark Beeson), and The Woodlands (Ed Robb, Jr.). Windsor Village (Kirbyjon Caldwell) and Ginghamsburg (Mike Slaughter) were smaller churches that became “mega” churches under the pastorates of Caldwell and Slaughter.
I am not sure what to do with this. On the one hand, none of these pastors were appointed to be the senior pastor of one of the largest congregations in their annual conference when they were young and relatively inexperienced. On the other hand, now they are the pastors of 5 of the 6 largest churches in the UMC. One obvious insight could be that entrepreneurial younger clergy should be given the opportunity to plant new churches. But is there something else that can be gleaned from this?
If Hamilton, Beeson, and Robb Jr. had not been given the chance to plant new churches, these churches likely would not exist.
Does this have anything meaningful to say to the conversation today about younger clergy? Does this tell us something less obvious than, “We should let younger pastors start new churches?” I wonder what thoughts these pastors would have about the importance of younger clergy and recruiting, supporting, and placing them?
What do you think? Do you see any meaningful connections?
Edit: Thanks to John Reasons who corrected the initial draft of this post where I incorrectly included Mike Slaughter as planting Ginghamsburg. I knew better, but definitely had it wrong in this post. I have revised the post to correct my error.