Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Passing the baton. . .

With a new Cantor at my parish, we will not only have a new full-time staff member but will reduce the average age of the parish staff by a decade or so.  This is not insignificant.  As I write this the balloting has taken place for the Vice-Presidents of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and we saw the average age of the Praesidium drop with the election of one man a generation younger than the man he replaces and another man more than a decade younger than the one he replaces.  This is not insignificant.

Within my own parish this means that some of our staff were born at the time of or after my own children.  This is significant.  Those born at that time grew up with technology like video games and the internet.  They came to age after 9-11 and grew up with the threat of terrorism.  They did not watch as the church was moved from mainstream America to the fringes.  They grew up with the phenomenon of contemporary Christian music (whether this appeals to them or not).

Within the LCMS this means that new leaders will not recall the pivotal events in Missouri’s history in the 1970s because some of them were not even born when these took place and others were small children at that time.  It means that a generation of new leaders is arising that has lived most of their adult lives in the changing landscape of sexual identity, gender, and sexual preference.  They grew up not in the heyday of Missouri’s history but as its glory is fading.

First of all, I am happy to see a new generation of people arise to take their places in parish and Synod.  I have no desire to resist the integration of new folks into the leadership of congregation and church.  That said, I have no idea how this will change things.  I do not doubt their commitment to the Gospel or their orthodoxy or their desire to see a bold and promising future for the Church locally, regionally, and nationally.  That said, I do wonder what this will mean for the future.

This is, after all, a generation that is even more out of step with their secular peers than my generation was and is.  The gulf between these people of faith and their life together as God’s people and their peers at work, in their neighborhoods, and regionally is greater than it has been for anyone’s memory.  Again, what this will mean is hard to predict and yet at the same time it is not insignificant.  I hope to be around long enough to begin to see how this might work out.  The Church faces greater enemies and odds than it has for many generations.  The graying of the membership and the clergy is a given.  Yes, there are pockets within the Church and around the culture in which this is not as true as it is in other places but in general more of our people are retired or retiring than those beginning to prepare for that life-changing event.  It is my hope that the strength of this graying segment of the Church will provide the time and the financial resources to allow the newer generations both the time and the money to develop the commitment and support within this newer generation to ensure that the Church and all her agencies will continue.  But this more a prayer and a certainty.  So pray, brothers, that God will be merciful to us all.


Sean said...

When you read the pastoral letters, you can see Paul has the same concerns you do about passing the baton to the next generation. Yet here we are, still chugging along. Christ is still on the throne. It is time for LCMS pastors to start trusting one another.

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