I was recently with a young preacher here on the West Coast who asked me a thought-provoking question: “What do you see that concerns or encourages you in younger pastors?”
I was encouraged by the question itself, and I pondered it for the next few days. I still consider myself a “younger pastor” and gladly learn from others, but perhaps because I am turning fifty this month, I feel old enough to answer the question.
These concerns could be stated with regard to preachers of any age or, for that matter, to Christians in any realm of ministry. (In my next blog, I plan to address some concerns and hopes for older preachers.)
Here are a few thoughts:
I get concerned when a young preacher has a sarcastic attitude toward most older pastors in ministry. I get hopeful when he has a general sense of respect and fellowship with older pastors.
I get concerned when a young preacher attempts to quickly copy any new fad or method from a mega church that appears successful. I get hopeful when a young preacher “tries the spirits to see whether they be of God” (1 John 4:1).
I get concerned when a young preacher has an argumentative spirit. I get hopeful when a young preacher approaches me with a sincere heart, even when his ideas are different than mine.
I get concerned when a young preacher constantly tweets and links to authors or pastors who are not cessationists, who drink alcohol, and who are staunch Calvinists. I am hopeful and encouraged when a young preacher tweets Scripture or tells how he recently led someone to Christ.
I get concerned when a young preacher is primarily influenced by web-based ministry. I get hopeful when a young preacher is consistent in his Bible reading and his heart burns within him when the Bible is soundly preached.
I get concerned when a young preacher’s questions rarely revolve around doctrine or theology. I am blessed by young preachers who have a heart for God and His truth and inquire about how to better serve Him.
I get concerned when a young preacher reads only “best-selling church growth” books. I am blessed by young preachers who read classics, who study doctrine, and who rightly divide the Word of truth.
I get concerned with a young preacher whose modern methods overshadow the message and whose love of culture crowds out the Gospel of Christ. I am encouraged by young preachers who are careful that Christ and His Word are truly preeminent in ministry.
I get concerned when a young preacher is reacting against an angry, absent, or abusive authority figure as he crafts his ministry philosophy. I get hopeful when his philosophy is derived from a causative and definite walk with God.
I get concerned when a young preacher (on the right or left) gets critical. Many young “progressives” claim they are leaving a “fundamental context” because they sense harshness in our ranks. Yet, many of these who are moving positions are equally caustic in their spirit to those who are on the same old path. I get encouraged when any Christian displays a Christ-like spirit.
I get concerned when a young preacher spends excessive time on social network sites. I get hopeful when young preachers are out in the community, conducting outreach and discipleship, and spending time with people who need personal ministry.
I get concerned when a young preacher wants to invest his time only with a certain segment of the “beautiful people” in society. I am encouraged by young pastors who have a heart for the hurting, the poor, and the elderly.
I get concerned when a young preacher naïvely believes that most pastors in the group he grew up in are weird or wrong and that other groups have all the “cool” or “more balanced” leadership. I get hopeful when preachers admit that every group has inherent problems because of our sin nature and that no one group is ever perfectly balanced or without sin.