Recently I was with a group of pastors and we were talking about activities we found spiritually nourishing and restorative. We generated a long list, both stuff we did and stuff we wanted to do but found it hard to make a priority (sadly).
All of these pastors are talented, dedicated people. All are folks you’d probably enjoy being around. I know I do. Here’s what I noticed: when it came to the list of spiritual practices we cherished, the Boomer-aged pastors listed things like daily scripture reading, mission trips, and group Bible studies—churchy activities, all—and the younger pastors (Gen X and younger) listed those things, but added stuff like attending plays, connecting with friends (in person and [gasp!] on Facebook), and doing art.
There are a number of different ways to take this. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:
1. It was a small, non-representative group and there is no broader trend.
2. Older pastors, who’ve been in “the system” longer, don’t feel as much permission to be expansive in their view of spiritual practices. (Is it a surprise that the younger pastors are the ones who brought up S-E-X as a way of nurturing one’s spirit?)
3. A related possibility: the further along you move in your career and the further “up” you go, the less time you have for stuff that’s considered superfluous. (Let’s face it, scripture reading does have a personal benefit, but it also has direct utility for your congregation.)
4. Young pastors have a particular gift for connecting a broad set of creative and cultural activities to the life of the Spirit.
If it’s #4, I am encouraged about the future of the church’s ministry and mission.