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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Why Is There a Minister Shortage?" - A Baptist Perspective

The next time someone tells you that the shortage of Priests in the Roman Catholic Church could be remedied if "the Vatican" would simply changes its "rules" and allow women priests and married priests, ask them why this solution has not remedied the vocations "crisis" in protestant denominations? While you are at it, ask them why many religious communities and Dioceses, especially those that tend to be more "traditional", have so many vocations - in some cases more than they can handle from a housing standpoint (CASE IN POINT - CLICK HERE). Below is another piece about the shortage of ministers Protestant communities are experiencing...

From Smyth&Helwys.com
by Paul A. Baxley

During the last thirty years, the number of young people entering the ministry has greatly declined. Recently, the Baptist General Association of Virginia announced that for every three retiring pastors, only one young person entered the ministry. In most Christian denominations, the percentage of ministers under age thirty-five is about 6 percent, while clergy above the age fifty-five account for more than 40 percent. Thomas H. Graves, President of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond announced several years ago that “the most serious problem facing the church today is the declining number of young people who understand themselves as called to ministry and the declining quality of that number.”

Why is this happening? Why are fewer of our young people discerning a call to the ordained ministries of the church? There is no single answer; the problem is intensely complex. For the purposes of this brief article, I want to suggest that cultural, theological, and congregational factors contribute to our present crisis.

The last three or four decades have witnessed dramatic cultural changes in the United States. An era dominated by the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, and a series of political scandals has caused Americans to trust institutions less. The fact that some scandals involved religious leaders has certainly affected the way people view the church, and the church has not always responded prophetically or courageously to these larger challenges. At the same time, the position of the church in the culture has changed. Fifty years ago, the church occupied the physical and social center of communities. Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and even Wednesday evenings were protected times. In their book Resident Aliens, Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon argue that the world as they knew it changed on a Greenville, South Carolina, Sunday evening in 1963 when the Fox Theater opened for business. It was the first intrusion into the church’s sacred space. Now, several decades later, almost no space is protected; recreational soccer leagues hold games on Sunday mornings. The church has been pushed away from the center of community life, creating a new situation that is not likely to change. How does that relate to the decline in the number and quality of people entering the ministry? In the 1950s, being pastor of the church was one of the most respected positions in town; the pastor was the leader of the institution at the cultural center. Now the church matters less, culture values the church less, and ministry has lost its prominence, making it less attractive to many people.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

1 comment:

Todd said...

Actually, I have long believed that there is an abundance of vocations in parishes that are more traditional and where the bishop is fully and vocally in line with Rome. The problem is, I cannot find any documentation, statistics or reports that demonstrates this! I am hoping you might have an idea. Thanks in advance!