An Examination of Persons Over 50 Who Provide Congregational Leadership When the Demand for Leadership Is For Persons Under Age 40
AnExamination of Persons Over 50 Who Provide Congregational LeadershipWhen the Demand for Leadership Is For Persons Under Age 40
AnExamination of Persons Over 50 Who Provide Congregational LeadershipWhen the Demand for Leadership Is For Persons Under Age 40
Whenit comes to collective or public religious participation, churchattendance emerges as the most prevalent measure of engagement. Theattendance rates of young adults usually tend to vary acrossdifferent religious groups. There are two strongest predictors thatdetermine church attendance among 21-45-year old individuals, whichare number of children and marital status.1Therefore, the timing of marriage is exceedingly critical ininfluencing the church attendance rates, as well as leadership in thechurches. Although there are other factors that may tend to have aninfluence on church attendance such as gender and income, theseaspects tend to play a meager role in determining church attendanceand taking up church roles. However, to an extent, the educationlevel and income may influence the leadership positions that a personmay take in a church.
Thepaths that individuals take from their adolescence to adulthood arelonger and usually varied. In the United States, young adults tend tomarry and have kids at later ages, and pursue higher education at anexceedingly high rate. These stages make young adults to be lessactive in church, or if they are active, they are in small numbersdue to the commitments that they tend to have. Above three-quartersof individuals categorized as young adults, whose ages range from 18to 44 years, usually attend churches at least occasionally. In theleadership positions in most churches, young adults are usually themost prevalent and they take up roles such as musicians, chairs ofcommittees, worship planners, and serving as clergy.2Thus, there is a higher probability of young adults (18-44 years)serving in the leadership positions in churches. However, the oldstill see the need to serve in the leadership positions as theydevelop the young adults and pass leadership to them.
Accordingto Brubaker (2016), there are certain traits that are associated withcongregational leaders. The first characteristic is thatcongregational leaders should lead through personal principles and aclear set of central values. This trait indicates that congregationalleaders know their standing, faith, and are willing to negotiate.However, they accept negotiations from the use of their own corevalues. Thus, their decisions are usually driven by their stand. Thesecond trait of congregational leadership that has been proposed byBrubaker is that the leaders need to fathom that genuine leadershipneeds a team. This implies that effective congregational leadersshould not focus on working alone, but should emphasize on working asa team.3For instance, in the case of a senior pastor, he should considerworking with his elders and staff in ensuring that everything goes onwell with the congregation. The third characteristic associated withthese leaders is the ability to mix an iron will with a deep personalhumility. The will is usually developed from the values of a leader.
Differentways can be used in creating leaders who possess the above discussedtraits. One of the ways is through stressing on values rather thanthe skills that a person possesses. Also, another way of developingsuch leaders is through emphasizing on coaching a team instead offocusing on going alone. In addition, another way of ensuring thecrop leaders having the qualities mentioned is through keeping thingsin perspective. In case a leader takes everything personally, he islikely to spoil his leadership to the congregation. Therefore, thereis a need to ensure that congregational leaders possess the rightqualities.
Thereis an opposition to women in congregational leadership. Despite manyefforts being made in the past to indicate that there is nodifference between men and women, there tends to be a widespreadbelief that women are inferior compared to men. It has been suggestedthat women usually face some form of gender discrimination in thereligious congregations. It can be regarded as gender discriminationbecause there is a tendency of restricting women to hold thepositions emanating from their gender, and men usually getpreferences in the positions. Women have been indicated to find ithard to get the opportunity to become curates in vast churchesbecause they tend to lack the experience required in running thelarge churches. However, although there are open opportunities forwomen today, there are still powerful conservatives in most localchurches who deny women the opportunity of experiencingcongregational leadership, despite their will power to serve.
Besides,although churches recognize female priests fully, there are somerestrictions, which hinder them from rising to the top. Constantly,women who desire to dedicate their lives to Christianity have facedthe difficulty of the capacity in which they can serve and the farthat they can go. Sometimes, the basis of opposing women incongregational leadership is Apostle Paul’s statement thatindicated that women should not speak or teach in public however,the statement is not justifiable in any way and should not restrictwomen leadership. Women comprise the majority in most churches andneeds to be offered leadership positions in case they desire. Manywomen clergy have argued that people need to acknowledge theirGod-given talents, as well as qualities rather than recognizing theirgender. This recognition will be vital in helping to eliminate theopposition that exists for women leadership in churches. The funniestthing is that the strong opposition to the female leadership inchurches does not solely come from men, but women also vehementlyoppose the ordination of women to high positions in the church.4
Roberto(2012) argues that a congregational culture becomes developed out oftheological, as well as denominational traditions, and expectationsfrom the larger culture among other things. All these things areusually carried into the congregation by members and leaders of achurch.5Whenever any of the aspects that members and leaders change, thecongregation changes too. The youths are usually deemed as notcommitted individuals when it comes to the attendance of the church.However, it is feasible to nurture the youths in order to develop acrucial Christian faith. Through a congregational culture of thespirit, which allows building of relationships, values, andactivities of a congregation, it is possible to provide a culture oftransmission and mission that can make the congregation become highlyinfluential in the lives of belief system of the young people. Thisis exceedingly critical in bringing the youths, parents, and thecommunity, as well as the leaders together. The life and faith of theyoung adults can be influenced through different congregationalqualities such as demonstrating hospitality, supporting youthministries, striving for excellence, promoting service, encouragingthinking, and participating in the congregation.6The formation of the youth ministry can be perceived as important forthe participation of young adults in the congregation since theywould be involved in the youth ministry as part of the leadership ofthe church.
Everychurch tends to have a culture that moves along with its size andmust be accepted. Most individuals prefer a given size culture, whichmay lead to treating other culture sizes as morally and spirituallyimmoral. Alternatively, every church has elements of its natural sizeculture that needs to be resisted. Vast churches have difficulties ofmaintaining track of church members who fall away from their beliefsystem. This must never be perceived as inevitable. Instead, the vastchurches need to progressively struggle to enhance their discipleshipand pastoral care. On the other hand, the smaller churches by theirnature offer immature, opinionated, outspoken, and broken members asubstantial degree of power over the entire body. Due to the size ofthese churches, the opinions of members matter a lot even when onemember has misery over a leader, the member can make the leaderfollow the desired direction.
Dependingon the size of the church, the decisions to be made lies with theleaders or the congregation.7When the church is large, the decision making process largely fallson the side of the leaders while the case is different for a smallchurch since the decisions are usually made by the entirecongregation, which is based on the idea that it is easy to engagethe few members of a small church. Besides, when it comes to theissue of succession in the churches, in a large church, theleadership is usually identified with the senior pastor. This isbecause he identifiable leader amid a vast number of staff, who arenot easily noted by the members.8However, the leaders in the large churches may be indicated to stayfor a long time in the position because of the vision that they havefor the church. Indeed, it is not possible for a church to start froma lower level to a higher level with a leader who does not have avision. This leads to the leader staying in the position until he/sheretires.
Limitationsof the Study
Oneof the limitations of the study is that only one church was used.When data is collected from only one point, there is a limit ofgeneralization of the results since sometimes the data collected fromone location may not reflect the findings in other places. To makethe matter worse, the church was not centrally placed among regionsin order to hold a general view of the opinions of differentindividuals from varied regions, but the church was just local. Thus,through collecting data from one church, in the course ofinvestigating the research question, the data could not begeneralized because it was not representative of other churches. Inorder to overcome this shortcoming, the research could have includedmore than one church in order to compare the data for generalizationof the finding and this could have offered a better view of thefindings.
Anotherlimitation is that only one gender was used in the collection ofdata. The research involved women as the only participants in thestudy and left out the males. This is a limitation to the researchbecause the research did not collect information from the males inorder to have their contributions in the research. The researchquestion of the study did not point any direction towards women thisbeing the case, involving both male and females was necessary.However, the research did not involve men because they were notreachable to respond to the research questions. Through involvingwomen alone, there could be a possibility of having the participantshave a particular way of answering the questions since they couldhave provided answers to the research questions in certain mannerthat is one-sided because of their gender. Thus, using women as theonly participants in the research provided a limitation to theresearch.
Also,another limitation of the research is that I used leadership as theonly variable in gathering data. There is a possibility that therewere other variables that could be discussed in line with the issueof leaders having above 50 years being involved in leadership thatcould be helpful in understanding other concerns related to thatleadership. The use of leadership only limited understanding otherinfluences that could be related or lead to persons over 50 providingcongregational leadership.
Inaddition, the other limitation of the research is that there wereinadequate resources in conducting the research. There was no fundingfrom any institution for the research, and this being the case, therewere resources constraint. Inadequate resources led to conducting thestudy in only one church. In case there were enough resources, theresearch could have included more churches in an attempt to answerthe research question. The resources could have catered foradditional collection and analysis of data from various churches.Besides, availability of sufficient resources could have helped inengaging more participants in the research since the resources couldhave been used in facilitating the research processes, where largedata could be involved.
Furthermore,there was limited time in carrying out the research, which alsooffers another shortcoming of the study. Time is usually of essencebecause it helps in scheduling the number of participants to engagein a study. The time provided to carry out the research was short,which led to things being done in a hurry.
Therecommendation being made concerns how the youth could work with theold. In the congregational leadership, it is possible to have theyoung adults work with the old. It is just a matter of integratingthe two groups well. In case there is good organization concerningthe two groups, not only will the old see the need of working withthe young adults, but the same case will apply. From the literaturereview, it was discovered that there is a tendency of age affectingthe attendance and roles in a church because the time of marriage andnumber of children may tend to commit people to some avenues makingthem not go to church, which implies that they will not be in aposition to serve in the church while still being young adults. Thisbeing the case, young adults seems not to be in a position to workwith the seniors in the church because of their availability. Inorder to bring the two groups together, there is need to create anenvironment that will help in bringing the young adults to thechurch. One of the ways that can be recommended for this case is todevelop youth programs in the church, which will play a critical rolein making the young adults become regulars in the church. Forinstance, through the creation of youth ministries that tackledifferent issues that affect young adults, the youths will be broughtcloser to the church. This will make it easy for the youths tointeract with the seniors on the issue of leadership. Indeed, withthe creation of youth ministries in the church, it will be simple tosupport the youths in leadership positions, where they would be in aposition to exchange with the seniors.
Thestudy acts as a reference to the churches in understanding whyleaders over the age of 50 are in leadership positions instead ofyoung adults who are below 40 years, which is viewed as the averageage of leaders in church leadership. This being the case, theresearch is of immense significance to the churches as they try toresolve the issue of how to integrate the working of young adults andseniors in the leadership positions. One way that the research is ofsignificance to the practice is that it can be used by churches infinding out how they can bring the youths to the church and take upleadership roles together with the seniors. As the study has pointedout, the creation of youth ministries can be helpful to churches inensuring that young adults are attracted to the church affairs. It isfrom this point that the churches will be in a position to supportleadership to the youths and help them work together with the seniorleaders. Another way that the research is of immense importance is inhelping the churches tap the talents that the young adults possess.From the research, young adults have been pointed out to havecommitments which make them not frequent members in church, which maybe a possibility for their non-participation in the leadershippositions. These young adults possess a lot of talents, which can bebeneficial to the church. Thus, the moment churches bring youngadults to the church ministries it will be possible for the churchesto benefit from the large pool of talents that the young adultspossess. Therefore, the research can be viewed as of importance tothe churches as they try to tap the benefit and churches shouldappreciate the study.
Amoah,Kofi Solomon, Safo, Semanu Josephine and Amoah, Owusuaa Ama Linda.Opposition to Women in Congregational Leadership: A SocioculturalPerspective. Journalof Advocacy, Research and Education,2015.
Brubaker,David. ThreeTraits of Effective Congregational Leaders.New York: Congregational Consulting Group, 2016.
Keller,Timothy. Leadership and Church Size Dynamics: How Strategy Changeswith Growth. RedeemerCity to City,2012.
Probasco,LiErin. CongregationalEngagement of Young Adults: A Review of the Literature.NJ: Princeton, 2013.
Roberto,John. The Importance of Congregational Culture for Lifelong FaithFormation. LifelongFaith Journal,2012.
1 Probasco LiErin, Congregational Engagement of Young Adults: A Review of the Literature. (NJ: Princeton, 2013), 5.
2 LiErin, Congregational Engagement of Young Adults,9
3 Brubaker David, Three Traits of Effective Congregational Leaders, (New York: Congregational Consulting Group, 2016), 1.
4 Amoah et al., “Opposition to Women in Congregational Leadership: A Sociocultural Perspective,” Journal of Advocacy, Research and Education, (2015): 6.
5 Roberto John, “The Importance of Congregational Culture for Lifelong Faith Formation,” Lifelong Faith Journal, (2012): 8.
6 John, “The Importance of Congregational Culture for Lifelong Faith Formation,12.
7 Keller Timothy, “Leadership and Church Size Dynamics: How Strategy Changes with Growth,” Redeemer City to City, (2012), 3.
8 Keller Timothy, “Leadership and Church Size Dynamics: How Strategy Changes with Growth,” 13.
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