Hi. My name is Danny. And I’m a millennial.
And if proof-texting song lyrics is frowned upon, then I’m sorry I’m not sorry. But I’m not sorry for taking this strong lyric from such a beloved hymn and reusing it here—because the sentiment continues to grow. The longer I pastor in this weird and wonderful denomination, the more I fall in love. And the more I engage with young(er) clergy, the more strength I feel and the more hope I find.
Now that #GA2017 has wrapped up, the conventions have finished, all legislation has been settled (right?), and my Twitter feed has become noticeably less interesting, I find myself reflecting. I’m thankful for the incredible work of our General Assembly delegation. And I praise the Lord for the election of our two new general superintendents, Fili Chambo and Carla Sunberg. (According to Twitter, with the addition of Chambo and Sunberg to their ranks, our six general superintendents among themselves are now fluent in a combined fifteen languages.)
But today’s strength and tomorrow’s hope haven’t come only from the legislative resolutions passed on the GA floor (some about which I’m very excited and others which I believe we may need to revisit in the future). And today’s strength and tomorrow’s hope don’t come from the worship services—as wonderful and Spirit-filled as they were. The truth is, I came home strengthened by the passion, resolve, and covenant commitment of younger pastors in the Church of the Nazarene. And I have hope for the future because this is the generation of clergy who will be leading and serving us tomorrow.
One evening in Indianapolis, my wife and I had the privilege of sharing a meal with a pastor and district superintendent from Budapest named Maria. Our conversation shifted toward young clergy, and I shared with Maria a conversation I’d had with General Superintendent Dr. David Busic, who had stopped by the Young Clergy Network gathering a couple nights earlier. Dr. Busic and I were standing in the back of the room, looking over those present, and he made a casual remark that stuck with me. We were discussing how many people were in that room, musing that we probably needed a larger meeting space, and Dr. Busic noted how cool it was that so many young clergy had even come to General Assembly, much less the YCN gathering, “considering most of them aren’t even delegates.”
We’re not waiting until we’re in recognized seats of influence to engage the church. We don’t have to be asked to pay attention. We may not all agree, but we’re talking. A lot.
When I mentioned this comment to Maria her immediate response was, “That’s unfortunate. We need to make them delegates!” I appreciated Maria’s desire to empower young clergy, but I also shared with her what I want to share with you. The YCN gatherings at General Assembly gave me great hope precisely because we weren’t delegates. There were scores of young pastors at General Assembly—not because we had to be there but because we wanted to be! And many of those who couldn’t be there in person tuned in online throughout the week. Young pastors showed up to #GA2017 in droves—because young pastors love the church. And because we young pastors want our church to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today’s young pastors will be delegates, district superintendents, university presidents, and general superintendents in the future. But we’re not waiting until we’re in recognized seats of influence to engage the church. We don’t have to be asked to pay attention. We may not all agree, but we’re talking. A lot.
Perhaps what gives me the greatest hope for tomorrow is that young pastors today are faithfully leading their congregations. What gives me strength for today is that I am surrounded by sisters and brothers who love their churches with such incredible compassion and self-emptying love. The Church of the Nazarene is in good hands today. And it will be tomorrow as well. Great is God’s faithfulness, indeed.