Saturday, January 05, 2008

Baptists and The Generation Gap Issue

There are many things that the data doesn't say, but I found fascinating LifeWay's evidence for the graying of the SBC annual meeting, posted and analyzed by Ed Stetzer.

As far as independent Baptists go, I've attended one FBF meeting in my life. I was about 30 at the time. It seemed to me that out of 150 or so attendees in the room there were two other people in attendance under the age of 45—the host church youth pastor and the speaker.

Does this mean younger Baptist pastors don't need fellowship or a sense of cooperating in something bigger than themselves? Are they finding it in other types of meetings or public venues? Or are they simply making it happen through new technology and media? I can imagine all sorts of explanations. I'm curious to hear your perspectives.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ben,

Interesting......with the exception of California that has a few "older men" (50 +), my experience has been just the opposite at least here in the Southwest. At least here in AZ, the majority of the guys (at least the guys I hang with which are separatists (Types A,B and C), independent [at least the A's and B's] and not KJV only) in the pastorate are 45 and younger. There are exceptions.

I do think men 40 and younger are looking to "fellowships" less and less and are finding relationships through other pastors not limited to their region. For instance my closest ministry friends are 3 in California, 1 in Illinois, 3 in Michigan, 1 in Colorado. Most of us will see each other once or twice (maybe 3 times) this year. That's more fellowship than I have with some of the guys here in Phoenix.

I like the guys here in Phoenix, but I have more in common with my buds and frankly I spend more time with them via cell, email etc......

For what it's worth,

Joel

PS - Ben.....Have a great new year my Type B-/C+ brother :)

Coach C said...

I hope I am off the banned list. It is a new year. . .

A certain amount of this is simply due to demographics - there are a lot of boomers out there.

Another theory is that ministries that have strong leadership might be having some trouble integrating the leadership offered by men who are 28 to 35. . . I have no data to back this up. . . just a thought.

David Stertz said...

This is a really interesting post which probably deserves a lot of attention. I agree that technology and demographics do play a role in this. However, I think Josh may have a valid point about integrating those 28 to 35. I would probably go a step further in that I sense a profound distrust between the younger to the elder and vice versa.

I am speaking from a fundamentalist perspective only, but it seems to me that many young fundamentalists (however you wish to define them) tend to view some errors that some of their predecessors have made as normative for all older fundamentalists. On the other side, many older fundamentalists are very concerned about the younger fundamentalists willingness to openly criticize the older with a great deal of tenacity. The older also perceive (and in some cases they may be right) a drifting from separatism.

I think this a huge mistake for both sides and we will both be the worse for it. As a young assistant pastor, (whose senior pastor has 55 years of pastoral ministry) I cannot tell you the value of learning from a fundamentalist pastor who can offer a wealth of knowledge, experience, and constructive criticism about himself and his own movement. And yet even with all this experience, he still benefits from my questions and challenges and they sharpen his ministry.

Like Coach C, I can't offer any data on this, it is just a growing sense that I have had in dealing with many older fundamentalists as well as the younger.

Coach C said...

I am inclined to agree with Dave.

Many YF's have disagreements on issues with some OF's. The YF's respect the age and experience and commitment to truth represented by the OF's, but sometimes there is a hesitancy on the part of the OF's to interact on the issues. They sometimes view any questioning as a personal attack, when it is simply an attempt on the part of the YF to understand and have input.

This is why the blogosphere exists - it allows people with no platform to have a voice. I wish that more OF's would discuss the issues, not people, in the blogosphere. I think it would help us all.