December 14, 2017

Pastoral Nuggets: It Happened On Our Watch

Reality is often a very sobering thing.

As I have told you before in this column, each Monday I attend the Troup Baptist Association Monday Morning Pastors Prayer Fellowship.

It’s a wonderful time of fellowship, prayer, and a short sermon. It is followed by lunch at a local restaurant for any pastor who wants to attend.

At today’s lunch meeting the subject of alcohol arose as a topic of discussion. Quite naturally, I am a teetotaler and opposed to it as an intoxicating beverage in any way, shape, form, or fashion, as are the pastors who were seated at the table with me. The conversation turned to how our church members could possibly see nothing wrong with and embrace the recreational use of alcohol.

I then made the following statement: “Guys, in my lifetime I have seen the pendulum swing from a point to where you would have been hard pressed to walk into any Baptist church in LaGrange or Troup County, Georgia and ‘not’ see a copy of the Church Covenant displayed prominently in the sanctuary.

Today, you will be hard pressed to find one.” Why is this? Because it states that the members will “… abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drink as a beverage …”So, because we no longer abide by this, we have removed it from its place of prominence in the sanctuary and relegated it to a janitor’s closet somewhere.

I went on to say: “In my opinion, our compromise on the alcohol issue is the very reason we are fighting against the legalization of Marijuana and all other kinds of drug related issues.” What one generation allows in moderation, the following generation will allow in excess!  Again, reality is a sobering thing!

I am old enough to remember when Baptist churches had Church Training on Sunday evening before the Sunday night service. And yes, churches actually had Sunday night services! But I digress. The purpose of Church Training was to teach Biblical doctrine, leadership, and Christian service to believers. The church actively reproduced itself.

Why, in my pastoral ministry, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be mentoring four or five young preachers at any given time. But sadly, this is not the case anymore. Churches are no longer actively reproducing themselves.

According to an article written by Aaron Earls of LifeWay, the average pastor is growing older in America.

Today, half of American pastors are older than 55.  In 1992, less than a quarter of pastors in the U.S. (24 percent) were that old. Pastors 65 and older have almost tripled in the last 25 years, from 6 percent to 17 percent. Meanwhile, pastors 40 and younger have fallen from 33 percent in 1992 to 15 percent today.

In 1992, the median age for a Protestant pastor in America was 44. In 2017, it has climbed 10 years to 54. The graying of the American pastorate did not start in the 1990s, however. More than half of all Protestant clergy (55 percent) were younger than 45 in 1968.

This year, only 22 percent of pastors are under 45. The church has gone from a time when a majority of leaders were in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s to a time when most are in their late 50s and beyond.

“There are now more full-time senior pastors who are over the age of 65 than under the age of 40,” said David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group. “It is urgent that denominations, networks, and independent churches determine how to best motivate, mobilize, resource, and deploy more younger pastors.”

How did we get here? We got here by not reproducing ourselves and compromising our great Conservative Christian values. The church no longer stands for what it used to stand, nor against what it used to stand against. And the sad part is – it happened on our watch!

Reality is a sobering thing, isn’t it? God help us!

Brother Aaron

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