What's in this session?

  • The largest generation in existence is 40 and under, and yet pastors don’t feel like can find adequate replacements (0:52)
  • 7 out of every 10 current pastors believe identifying suitable candidates is becoming more difficult (69%), even though a majority believes their church is doing what it takes (69%) (1:02)
  • “Being 27 and on staff at a church that I grew up my whole life is so difficult. I never get taken seriously and I am always working against the norm.” (2:35)
  • “I recently stepped down from a church where the pastor was in his 50’s and one of threatens why was because I did not feel supported in my decisions and responsibilities at all. Coming to that decision was hard because I had to do a lot of searching as to why I felt that way. Ultimately, I had a seat at the table, but I felt like I was put up with - not part of the team.” (2:45)
  • “I was in a church service and the (older) pastor said, “Let me talk to the Millennials for a minute” and proceeded to call all Millennials lazy, entitled, ungrateful, etc.” (3:04)
  • "I am a 31 year old student/administrative pastor in a denomination that predominately has lead pastors in their 50’s and higher. I’ve been in ministry since I was 18. I’m still treated like I have little life experience or like I’m not ready to be a lead pastor. It’s ridiculous. I’m a father of two girls, ages 7 and 5, I lead a family, I’ve been leading in ministry for over a decade, I’ve been leading worship since I was 15.” (3:16)
  • Brady was sent a video from a church with the pastor from stage saying, “Millennials, the generation that thinks the world revolves around them and that every thought they have is brilliant…” (3:42)
  • Brady recently came under fire for an episode of Pro Church Daily Ep. 4 titled Why Pastors Are Too Old (angry emails, comments, “cocky jerk Millennial”) (4:03)
  • Perception is reality; Millennials have a branding problem (4:14)
  • Look inward - how are you perhaps contributing to this problem? (6:06)
  • Start your own thing - it’s never been easier (7:17)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Pro Church Daily is brought to you by Storytape, unlimited stock video downloads, on a single monthly subscription head to Storytape.com and you can browse through every single video clip we have to offer, for free.

Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less, you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills. I’m joined, as always, by the boss man, it’s Brady Shearer, and today, we’re talking about why millennials are not ready to be pastors.

Brady Shearer: Were living through a very interesting time …

Alex Mills: We are.

Brady Shearer: … in culture and in ministry, Alex.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: That is, that pastors on average are 54 years old, lead protestant pastors. Right now it’s the median age, compared to 44 years old, just 25 years ago.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: Pastors are getting older as a whole. Then on the flip side, we’ve got this big injection of population millennials, now the largest living generation in the world. What’s also interesting is that the data I just mentioned came from Barna.

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: In that same survey, in that same data collection, here’s something else that stood out to me, that was a bit troubling. It said, 7 out of every 10 current pastors believe identifying suitable candidates is become more difficult, 69% to be precise. At the same point that’s true even though a majority believe that their church is doing everything that it takes to find replacements.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: What’s happening is, you have pastors in power, that don’t believe that they can find pastors to replace them. They don’t believe that millennials, the current generation is suitable. Seven out of every 10 don’t believe that they can find a suitable replacement or that at the very least, it’s becoming much more difficult. The largest generation in existence is 40 and under, so it’s not that they’re lack a population to draw from, right? It’s not like this is a very small generation, and thus less people are going into ministry. This is happening despite the fact that there’s a huge pool of people to actually draw from and find to replace current pastors. What is the problem? Well, we did an episode the other day, caused a little bit of controversy.

Alex Mills: A little.

Brady Shearer: Episode number 4 of Pro Church Daily was called Why Pastors are too Old, and it was discussing that on a whole, the age of pastors is increasing, means less people are coming in and filling the spots. Why is this?

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I got a lot of messages from millennials, and I want to read a couple, because I think that they explain and illustrate this point exactly.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: The point that 7 out of every 10 pastors currently in power on the average, median age of 54, don’t believe that they can find an adequate replacement. Here’s what some people said. First one, “Being 27 and on staff at a church that I grew up my whole life, is so difficult. I never get taken seriously, and I’m always working against the norm.” Someone else said, “I recently stepped down from a church where the pastor was in his 50s, and one of the reasons why was because I didn’t feel supported in my decisions and responsibilities. Coming to that decision was difficult, because I had to do a lot of searching as to why I felt that way. Ultimately, I had a seat at a table, yes, but I felt like I was just being put up with, not a part of the actual team.”

Alex Mills: Wow.

Brady Shearer: Here’s another one, “I was in a church service and the older pastor said, ‘Let me talk to the millennials for a minute,’ and then he proceeded to call all millennials lazy, entitled, ungrateful, etc.”

Alex Mills: Wow.

Brady Shearer: Here’s another one, “I’m a 31 year old student, administrative pastor, in a denomination that predominantly has lead pastors in their 50s and higher. I’ve been in ministry since I was 18, and I’m still treated like I have little life experience, or like I’m not ready to be a lead pastor. It’s ridiculous. I’m a father of two girls, ages seven and five. I lead a family. I’ve been leading in ministry for over a decade. I’ve been leading worship since I was 15, and I’m still not considered ready to be a lead pastor.”

Alex Mills: Wow.

Brady Shearer: Final one I’ve got, I was actually sent a video from a church, and the video had this pastor from the stage saying, and I quote because I kind of transcribed what he said …

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: … just the beginning. I didn’t see the whole video. It ended with this quote ends but he started saying, “Millennials, the generation that thinks the world revolves around them, and that every thought they have is brilliant.” That’s when the video ended. Frankly, I got called a lot of things because of the video that we posted as well.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I mean, angry emails, angry comments. One that stood out to me was, I was called a cocky, jerk millennial for that video. Here’s the point that I’m trying to make. Whether these people are correct, or whether they are incorrect, we as millennials have a branding problem, because, doesn’t really matter if we think that this older generation is being right or not. Maybe they’re being unjust. Doesn’t matter, because we have a perception problem as millennials.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: You can disagree with it; doesn’t really matter, because people perceive it.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: One thing that we know about branding, is that it’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s what people think about you, regardless of what you say about yourself. We as millennials have a perception and branding problem. We are, for whatever reason, considered lazy …

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: … and entitled, and maybe some of those things are true. What I have found is that when you are in leadership, it is your responsibility to take ownership, and to take personal responsibility for anything that comes your way. How do we respond to this as millennials? If people that are older that are in charge don’t think we’re ready to be pastors, don’t think that we’re ready to be leaders, that’s their call. How do we respond, because we’re not in control of what they think.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: I’m not in control if someone calls me a cocky, jerk millennial. That’s their call. How do I respond to it? That’s the only thing that I can do.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: For instance, in this case, if you go and read the YouTube comments on Pro Church Daily, Episode 4, and I highly encourage you to do so …

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You will see close to a hundred comments, many of which are calling me out, criticizing me, and you know what I did? I watched that video again. I sat down, and I said, “Okay, what can I learn from this,” because whether or not I think that I am in the right, I think I am justified for what I’m saying, I think that what I said was backed up by data, people are perceiving me in a different way.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: I have to take ownership of that. I have to take personal responsibility and say either that’s how it is, being a leader means being polarizing at times. Some people are going to agree. Some people are going to disagree. You know there’s that saying in ministry, “Well, if you’re not getting resistance, you’re not doing enough right.” You could go with that direction or you …

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: … could say, “I can learn something here.”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I can grow. I can make adjustments and tweaks going forward, so that I can be more, you know, embracing of things that I may have missed in the past. You have to look inward. If this is how millennials are perceived, you have a decision to make. Don’t be one of those millennials.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Don’t be entitled. Don’t be lazy. You have to earn it. This is the point. When you’re young, you shouldn’t get anything handed to you. You know, millennials have it tough.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: The stock market crashed in ’08, right when we were entering the workforce.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Right when we were entering college.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: The average student with debt is paying $350 every single month in their 20s. That’s a huge bill for someone who probably doesn’t have a great job, because boomers are retiring later, and …

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: The stock market was recovering when we were entering the workforce.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: But every generation deals with their own thing.

Alex Mills: Of course.

Brady Shearer: Every generation has it tough in a certain way. We have been free from war for the most part, you know, aside from some tertiary ones. My biggest fear as a kid was being conscripted into a war.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I was so afraid of that.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: So far …

Alex Mills: All good.

Brady Shearer: Knock on wood. We’ve avoided that.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Every generation has things that are difficult. Final thing I want to say about this is that, it has never been easier for you as a millennial to start your own thing.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: No one gave me permission to start this business. No one handed me Pro Church tools on a platter, and said, “Here, it’s now time for you to lead.” I, in the third year of Bible college, decided I want to build this thing. I want to give it a shot, and now we’re a multi-million dollar organization, and that’s great.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I’ve proven that I am not lazy, and I am not entitled, but I had to go out on my own, take a risk on myself, bet on myself, and make that happen. It has never been easier to start a church with no investment up front. Start online. Rent a place with your own money. Do whatever it takes. Meet in your home. It has never been easier to do it. It has never been easier to start a business, never been easier to start a church than it is in 2018 and going forward. If no one’s going to give you the opportunity, okay, prove them wrong.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Go do your own thing.

Alex Mills: Yeah. I don’t think it’s too cliché to use the phrase, “Be the change you want to see.”

Brady Shearer: Wow.

Alex Mills: I honestly don’t think it is too cliché, because like you said, we have this perception of our generation, which is the largest generation on earth right now. We have this perception of who we are, and it’s often not true, and so, it’s our responsibility to get up and be who we say we are, and who we think we are. Show our senior leadership that regardless of what you think about my generation, “This is who I am.” You know what I mean? I think it’s really interesting that you bring up that the other data point from that Barna research, that showed that a lot of senior pastors just don’t think that they have someone worthy of replacing them. We saw that actually a lot in the YouTube comments. Whether they agreed or disagreed with what we said, a lot of the senior leaders said that thing.

Brady Shearer: Yeah.

Alex Mills: That was, “I just don’t have someone in my church that is ready and stepping up to the plate,” and so that’s on us. Let’s step up and show our senior leadership, “This is not who I am. You can think what you think about my generation, but this is me. This is what I’m capable of and I’m here for you.”

Brady Shearer: Perception is reality.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: I saw a line in Wikipedia about the boomer generation. It characterized them as those that rejected or wanted to redefine traditional values. Does that remind you of anyone? I think millennials and boomers are a lot more alike …

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Than we care to admit.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: With that being said, that’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Daily, but we wanted to let you know that we are doing a ton of giveaways …

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: … on Instagram this month, in February. Go to @bradyshearer on Instagram. You can be a part of the giveaways, if you follow me, and follow the instructions. Join us there, be eligible for the giveaways.

Alex Mills: There you go.

Brady Shearer: We’ll see you tomorrow on the next episode of Pro Church Daily.

Hey, thanks for listening to today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to the Pro Church podcast for new podcasts just like this one, every single day. If you’d like to support this podcast, leave us a rating or review. It doesn’t cost you much, but it means the world to us. Talk to you tomorrow.

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