Maybe these comments were of the toss-off variety. Or maybe not. But then this article popped up in the Washington Post yesterday: I’m 60. My Boss is a 20-Something. It’s Awkward.
It doesn’t have to be awkward. In fact it could be transformative for The Church.
What would make it awkward:
- A young, unteachable head of staff who is completely unaware of what she/he doesn’t know and a seasoned, incurious associate who thinks he knows everything.
- A young head of staff with less than 10 years experience earning 2-3 times as much as the seasoned pastor with 30+ years of experience. (Note: often the opposite is true in that the “senior” Senior Pastor earns 2-3 times more than any associate pastor on a church staff. This is not necessarily just either.)
- Rivals on the same staff.
- Pastors with no sense of humor.
- Resentful colleagues (i.e. an older associate pastor who felt pushed out of his/her last position or a younger head of staff who felt threatened by parishioners who felt more comfortable with the older pastor.)
- Clergy of any age with limited eye-roll control.
What would make it awesome:
- A seasoned pastor – who has done the whole preaching-every-Sunday thing for decades is totally ready to relinquish the pulpit – even for Easter and Christmas Eve – to a younger voice. And he/she relishes hearing that millennial’s take on scripture.
- A younger head of staff who seeks mentoring from the seasoned pastor as she/he navigates a new way of being “the senior.”
- Parity in setting salary and benefits based on the fact that 1) the head of staff is both the face of the congregation and has more responsibilities but is less experienced and 2) the associate pastor has more experience but less responsibility
- A team of pastors whose shared goals are 1) to make disciples, 2) to bolster community, 3) to equip the saints for ministry — not to strive to be “the cool one” or “the most popular one.” Emphasis on team.
This could alter so many things that need to be changed, like . . .
- Boomer pastors who won’t step down from churches – often at the congregation’s expense. (By the time some retire, their congregations will have had such sluggish leadership for so long that they may never recover.)
- Wage disparity between clergy on the same staff.
One of the issues in all this concerns the fact that – as our congregations continue to reduce in size – more and more churches are staffed by a single (exhausted) pastor. More about that tomorrow.
I’d love your feedback, folks.
Image of matching shepherd’s crooks.