There’s been a lot of conversation happening at GA this week, and on Twitter, about the age of ministers/commissioners at GA and whether or not folks involved in the leadership are truly welcoming of and desiring young people to take part in this form of leadership in our denomination.
First, Theresa Cho posted “In the Middle: Intersection Between Age & Wisdom” – in which she shared (as many others had earlier) the statistics that only 7% of the GA commissioners are under the age of 45, which means there are twice as many commissioners over the age of 65 than under 40. I’m sure there are nuances to those numbers I’m not aware of, but I’d argue that’s not a good age-spread. That doesn’t convey a church that is looking to the future, to the young leaders, to innovation and creativity. There was even a recommendation taken to GA to specifically reach out and have more young adults represented, but…it was rejected. (Disclaimer: I’m trying to not make this come off as an ageist position…but, we’ll see how I do).
I’ve heard folks share before about how our Board of Pensions actually makes it worth their while for older pastors to NOT retire, thus filling up spots that younger pastors could be taking.
Second, is the issue of child care. This started when I first heard about Greg & Heidi Bolt and their realization there would be no child care for their kids at GA. You can read Heidi’s blog posts here and here. From what I understand, there isn’t any child care being offered this year in Pittsburgh. Now, if you’re in the group of commissioners over the age of 65, you obviously don’t need child care. You probably aren’t even thinking about child care. It’s probably just not on your radar.
But for those younger pastors and folks who want to attend GA who are chosen to serve as commissioners AND who have kids, it’s obviously a pretty big deal. It’s a long time to take off for GA, and child care these days is NOT cheap. More likely than not, young pastors are struggling financially, and to have to arrange child care on their own would be an incredible expense, possibly prohibiting them from making the trip to GA.
My buddy Greg is really trying to rally behind getting child care provided at future General Assemblies, and he has a survey that I’d LOVE if you would take just a couple minutes to fill out (it’s literally only 5 questions on 1 page). It’d be helpful data to share with those who are in the positions to make decisions about future assemblies and future child care. You can fill out the survey here.
Finally, another friend told me that he was told by a Presbytery Exec that he really didn’t have a chance of being selected as a commissioner to General Assembly in the immediate future. Apparently there’s a list of people eligible to serve as commissioners, and when you’re newly-ordained, you get put on the bottom of that list. The bottom. Does that seem messed up? Or is that just how most presbyteries do things these days? Is it a way of keeping the “younger perspective” on some hot-topic issue away from the national decision-making body?
Would love to hear your thoughts on any of this…the child care issue, the fact that some presbyteries have a pecking order that creates roadblocks for younger/newly-ordained ministers from serving their denomination and the disparity of the age diversity at GA.