I'm now a member of the Committee on the Preparation for Ministry (CPM), a Presbyterian committee that guides and screens potential ministers in our denomination. Aside from absurdly long meetings and seemingly interminable procedural discussions, I'm relishing the experience. One of my most immediate observations is that many of our younger candidates - those still in seminary, or just out of it - do not find the "traditional" pastoral roles to be very compelling. For many of them, their hearts are not leaping at the chance to fulfill the role of "senior pastor" or "associate pastor"or other central leadership positions within the confines of a congregation. I'm not just observing this from a distance, I'm living it. I was ordained to work in a parachurch ministry, and since then I have been a hospice chaplain and a writer. Recently, I came to the unsettling, relieving conclusion that full time church ministry is really not where I want to be, though I am open to part time work. I haven't drawn any grand conclusions yet about this trend in younger generations, nor traced the roots of it, though I expect them to be rooted in a postmodern movement away from centralized leadership and the activist tendencies of especially the millenial generation.
For now, I have questions. Are others of you out there noticing this trend? How does it require us to change our understanding and policies around ordination?