As I noted yesterday, pastor-scholar-blogger James Emery White spent some time with our church staff yesterday. Among the many Q&A topics that came up was what he sees as one of the biggest hills today’s senior pastors aren’t courageous enough to climb.
Not particularly surprisingly (at least for us who are connected to the field of college ministry), he continues to see many pastors unwilling to make the changes needed to reach younger unchurched individuals. Pastors know what they would need to do, he said, in regards to style and structure, but also believe the changes would be too unsettling for their current congregations – and particularly to those who provide the financial backbone for the church.
Like I said, we who already fight for younger generations might easily agree. But college ministers aren’t off the hook in this concern when it comes to what you do: verily, verily, you should be asking the same question of yourself and your ministry.
Are YOU making the changes in style and structure that it takes to best reach today’s unreached students?
And not only does that mean considering the unchurched, but age often still plays a factor. Freshmen might need something different than upperclassmen, members of Generation Z (or whatever we end up calling it) aren’t the same as the Millennials, and you may even have financial supporters or overseers lurking in the background who are very much outside the demographic of the current, unreached collegian.
So the situation – and temptation – for college ministers isn’t quite as different from that of senior pastors around the country as we might have first assumed. Right? Who’s courageous enough to make changes when changes are called for (while loving and shepherding both older students and the merry band of stakeholders outside the college scene)?