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.
My friend David Burke, veteran youth pastor and church consultant, met recently with leaders of a midsized congregation to help assess their youth ministry. When lunchtime rolled around, a lanky 20-something pizza delivery guy wandered into the church’s youth room with several pizzas.
New “nonnegotiable” guidelines for evangelism at Young Life ministries has led to the closing of a North Carolina office of the group and the claim by a national expert on youth and religion that the organization is moving in a fundamentalist and authoritarian direction.
Riding a bus full of rowdy, screaming teenagers can be hazardous and should be attempted only by trained professionals. Since I am a youth pastor, I am often blessed with this ministry opportunity, which usually involves walking through the bus to keep the conversation to a dull roar. I usually learn something about my students in the process. On one of these trips, for example, a student asked me, “Why do you do this?” “Well,” I said slowly, “when you were a baby, your parents brought you before the whole congregation to be baptized. On that day, we made a promise to you and to God.”