In my last post, I introduced a book titled: Post-Church Christianity, where Carson and his father Paul took up the task of writing a book that was an interaction between a Millennial (Carson) and a Boomer (Paul) and how to navigate the generational baggage that both groups have. Again, I say: BUY it and READ it! I’m only bringing out some of my favorite snippets…there is so much more!
The heart of this book is to ensure that the next generation of leaders and the old generation of leaders learn to speak to one another in order to ensure the full health of the future of the church. Both authors bring up great points and issues that are going well and issues to work on. Below is one of Carson’s points that speak to a real and significant issue for the Millennial.
“Our generation [the Millennial] is coming up with new ideas to engage culture, make disciples, share our faith, do missions, and take care of the poor…Yet church is not always a place that encourages this entrepreneurial spirit. Instead of empowering us, we are often pigeonholed into what is tried-and-true. We are told ministry is not the place to experiment with ideas.”
Many Millennials are leaving the church simply because they don’t have a voice, nor an outlet for their giftings. Many current church leaders in the US are scared of testing things, scared of “trial” ideas and so when one is offered (especially by a young person) many times it gets shot down.
Many don’t think that ministry is a place for creating, but a place for sticking to that, which is known. Many Millennials desire to seek new ways of reaching out, new ways of thinking and new ways of doing ministry…yet there is a deep rooted fear of failure that is ingrained in the Boomer, so “new” becomes a scary word.
Digging into this a bit deeper, we can see the root of this in my last post from this book. The root is a religious system based off of performance. So, with that framework if something happens that is considered “unsuccessful” many questions arise in the Boomer generation. Questions like: “If it failed, was it really from God?” or “It failed, how can we trust this leader with future success?” Or, worst case scenario: “This pastor isn’t producing, look at the failures he’s put in place”. This fear to be safe and do things that works for the sake of performing well is, in my mind the reason for the fear of innovation…because if it “fails” its bad.
I remember early on in my ministry days my senior pastor described it this way. “Marvin, you are young in ministry, so I will teach you something. You have a bank account of sorts with your congregation. When things are going really well, they put some change in that account. When things are going badly they withdraw some change. You need to make sure you are always in the black with your people, otherwise you are gone, so if you are going to do something new, always make sure you have money in the account before you do…because you are young your account with our people right now is pretty low, if not zero. It is not safe for you to do this at this time…”
I get the basic premise of his thought process and yes to some degree there has to be some tangible success rate of a pastor in ministry (this is NOT always numbers by the way) in order to keep his job…but it’s not about keeping our jobs, is it?
Millennials can’t create due to a pastors fear of losing his job? Sad but in many ways true…which then causes the great thinkers and innovators of our faith to leave the church…which then means 15 years down the line that pastor doesn’t have a job anyways?
Is the “now” security of one pastor more important than the future “then” security of the entire church? Yes, in many cases it is…but it shouldn’t be.
We do need to innovate, create, design and think up new ways of doing Biblical (not cultural) ministry, yet there is a fear. I don’t pretend to have the answers, I’m just a guy interacting with some really good content.
So my question is…how can we or how do we lose this fear of failure and jump in full boar to giving freedom for innovation AND freedom for failure?