Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Age Matters

It is a well known fact that most of our Anglican churches are filled with 60 and 70 year olds. Not surprising then that a significant number of clergy are going to be retiring in the next few years as many of them have grown older with their congregations. Much research has shown that leaders attract those between ten years older and ten years younger than themselves and a quick scan across the Bucks archdeaconry shows that the younger, vibrant churches are mostly led by younger (and mostly vibrant) clergy. I write this on a day when I have already become depressed (yes before 6am!) at the lack of flexibility and vision at the centre of the diocese - I don't mean from the Bishops but within many of our committees and boards. Then I look at the age profile and perhaps shouldn't be surprised, most of these people retired from their businesses ages ago..... they have been brought up to be cautious, preserving and, conservative (mostly with a large C and small c). I look again at those churches which are growing (inwardly and out) - risks are being taken with outreach and buildings, creativity flourishes or is allowed to flourish, and money is no bar to fruitfulness. They demonstrate a gospel of Good News, generosity and it's attractive. At the age of 46 (20 years younger than many of those I work with) I am passionate about what we are as a church, yet feel trapped by the mindset of my elders. Perhaps I am too young for this job? and yet many of those who lead succesful businesses out in the world are younger than I am. All this talk about age has been provoked by the Count your Blessings for today. 1p for every year of my life. A baby in Britain can expect to live to the age of 79, whereas a baby in other parts of the world can expect to live a much shorter life (Afghanistan it is 44 years). I am grateful that I can look forward (hopefully) to live for many years yet, but hope and pray, for the sake of the church, that I will always be open and listen to the ideas and energy of the generations below me.

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