Why are young clergy dropping out? There’s no doubt about it. Our denominations have difficulty attracting and retaining clergy who are under forty-five. And they’re much more likely to drop out than older clergy.
Jackson Carroll says that half of young clergy are likely to doubt their call, while only 20% of clergy over 60 are only likely to doubt their call (of course that statistic isn’t too startling…even if I wanted to leave a job at 60, I’d be hesitant to do so, since that’s clearly a good time to hang on to your vocation).
But, why do half of young clergy doubt their call?
The first time I had second thoughts was when I read a report on women ministers in my denomination. The PCUSA’s not new at ordaining women. We’ve been doing it for a long time. Yet, I trembled when I held the report in my hands and saw what had been my looming fear written in black in white: women feel discrimination in the call process. They’re still much less likely to serve as a head of staff.
This was my conundrum: I liked being a solo pastor, but it was lonely. I took my vacations, but with the weddings and the funerals, I was still preaching 50+ times a year. Plus, I was the secretary, and the maintenance person, and…I was tired.
I like being an associate, especially since I have a great colleague and a truly wonderful church. But I can’t get away from that feeling like I’ve been typecast into my position. I’m young, I’m female; therefore, I must be an AP. People assume that I have a lot less experience than I actually do.
Both positions have been amazing places in which to serve. And, I never expected to become an HOS or Co overnight. But it’s been eight years, so what about another ten years down the road? Will I always be in Associate or Solo Positions? These were the questions that left me banging my head on the thick stained glass ceiling, and I began to doubt my call.
Have you ever doubted your call? Why?
photo by Sinkie, uploaded from Flickr