Calling all Millennials!

The Presbytery of New Brunswick made some bold motions at our last presbytery meeting.  After my report with Lorelei regarding the decisions of the council about the sabbatical, their was much discussion.  One presbyter rose to offer two motions 1) that we proceed to discover ways to be one church on many campuses and 2) that we add five members of council under the age of 40.  I didn’t not see that coming.  I suppose I was ready for something … but the motion to add five council members under forty took my breath away.

Proceeding with the conversation and discovery of ways to be one church will begin with a gathering on April 29th at the Kingston Church.  The addition of five new council members is more challenging.  First we have to find five people in their twenties or thirties who are leaders, balanced between men and women, teaching and ruling elders, large and small churches … second, they have to say “yes” to the invitation to serve.  We are moving along and already have identified one teaching elder who will join the council at our meeting tonight.  But we have a long way to go.

When we discover our five, I’m expecting the following:

  1. The young men and women will offer a different perspective to our work.  Millennials or late busters are “native” to our emerging culture.  Those of us who are older know that we are essentially resident aliens to the digital world.  Each age cohort shares common perspectives with each other and very different perspectives from those born and growing up during a different time in history.
  2. The balance of power of the presbytery council will shift.  The reason for making this motion, I’m sure has something to do with the lack of representation of the millennial perspective of younger people as our decision makers.   In addition, though, bringing in a cohort of five younger people will alter the power base of those over fifty … we’ll see how that plays out in the next few months.
  3. The presbytery will begin to be more future oriented than focussed on our past.  With the inclusion of younger decision makers we will not be able to ignore the fact that the church will need to change to relate to men and women and children of the 21st century.  Their presence alone will help us focus on the church of 2024 or 2034 instead of 1994.  In addition, I hope their insight will help us question the way we’ve been church, in order that we may embrace the best of who we’ve been and give up the policies and procedures that no longer serve to promote the Kingdom.  We’ll be challenged to make decisions that will lead us into an emerging future instead of preserving our past.
  4. The new council members will bring a fresh look at ourselves.  Most of the new members will be relatively new to presbytery work.  The questions they ask about how and why we do what we do, as they learn to function on the council will naturally lead to us having to articulate answers.  That articulation will serve to help us see with fresh vision.

I have some concerns, too.  I’m concerned that the identified “leaders” of the church may be so entrenched in church culture that they may already be insiders and some of the freshness that I highlighted above will prove to be unfounded.  I’m concerned about the power issues between those “original” council members and the “newbies”.  I’m concerned that the new members will be disappointed by the slowness of presbytery change and will “give up” on the ability to work within the system.  I’m concerned that the family and work responsibilities of younger presbyterians will cause our new members to miss meetings (just like our current members) and that the impact of their presence will end up being negligible.

Regardless … I hope we find the young women and men that are being called to be a part of this bold move of the presbytery.  If you are one of those … If you know someone who might be one of those (particularly ruling elders) … please let us know.  Send me an email (njregionalpresbyter@gmail.com)

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