What kind of relationship do you want to have with your teen in five years?” Tim Tahtinen, youth leader at the United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, likes to pose that question to parents and then add, “What’s your plan? I have a plan that works.”
At the pastors’ conference, a church diagnostician has been telling me and other glassy-eyed pastors that we have to start seeing things differently. Regional churches, more commonly known as megachurches, are the wave of the future.
The changing profile of seminary students has been much remarked upon. Whereas 50 years ago almost all seminarians in North America were white men who had recently graduated from college, today women are a major presence in seminary classrooms, as are (to varying degrees) ethnic and minority groups. Today’s students are also substantially older by the time they get to seminary.
The number of ordained clergy age 35 or under in mainline denominations is remarkably low. The United Church of Christ lists only 207 clergy in that category—only 4 percent of its total number of ministers.
Mainline denominations have only begun to recognize the alarmingly low numbers of clergy under the age of 35. In my denomination, the United Church of Christ, I am one of only 207 clergy in that age bracket—about 4 percent of total clergy.