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Encouragement for Disappointed Millennials
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By Rich Carlson
 
To all my young adult friends to whom I have given my life: I want to share my heart about the recent General Conference decision on the freedom not granted to choose the best path for honoring women in ministry as seems culturally appropriate. I personally wish the vote would have gone a different way, but I continue to be blessed as I watch you all struggle at first with what seemed to be rejection and then realizing that there can still be ministry for all of us no matter the decision.
 
I believe in this Church. I believe God is leading. That does NOT mean that every decision will be right or that I will agree with every decision. To have tension in any organization, including the church, is normal and I believe healthy. If we all agreed we would be a pathetic stagnant organization! The body of Christ has many parts and they don't all work the same. We praise the early church in Acts as some kind of model but go back and read the book again and look at all the disagreements in there! Some even reached the place where they parted ways, from each other, but NOT from the system.
 
I know things did not go the way many of us had hoped but my prayer is that you will not react by leaving or giving up. The church is still a good avenue of support as we focus on what is most important, that being, in my opinion, to look at Jesus and His work in our lives, allowing His love and grace and mercy to fill us so it shines through us to allow others to see something better than what this world offers. My focus is not on who gets ordained or whether I should discipline or destroy people who have lifestyles or philosophies that differ from me. My focus is on Jesus and the work He has given to me in support of His kingdom and His children.

A world church is a VERY challenging thing to try and run. I don't envy ANY of the leaders who are trying to do it. My life is much better when I realize that they are not evil people trying to destroy me and they are not infallible saints with all the right answers. They are people who are committed to the same thing I am, and hopefully you are. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't. But just like I don't divorce my wife if she doesn't agree with me, and I don't disown my kids if they choose differently that I wish they would choose, I will not abandon my church even if I don't agree with them. We are family and we're going to make it through no matter what decisions are made.

I will continue to focus on Jesus. I will continue to do my best to treat women with the equal respect they deserve, not because they are women, but because they are children of God and God sees ALL of us as equal – equally in need of HIS love and mercy and grace. I will continue to focus on Jesus. I will continue to disagree with some people in my church for choices they make, but I will not stop loving them as much as I do with those I agree with; in fact I'll continue to pray for God's love, mercy and grace so I can even love them more than those I agree with.

My government is not perfect and I don't agree with all their conclusions, but I'm not giving up my citizenship. My world church did not agree with me– it's a big church with lots of people from lots of cultural backgrounds that I know almost nothing about. I have to believe that they voted their conscience. But no matter what the outcome I will continue to be blessed by being a part of this family and I will continue to be blessed as I focus on Jesus and live my life as He leads me. Please, my dear young adult friends – all you who are my students, current or past, whom I will continue to unpolitically correctly call my "kids," –please, you don't have to be "right" to the point of rejecting what can still be what I have found more support than burden. Don't bale if it doesn't go your way. Remember 1 Timothy 4:12 "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are a young adult (or a woman in ministry,)" Rise above that. "Be an example to the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." Be proactive, make a difference, rise above what you might disagree with and focus on what Jesus has called you to be – an example of what you want your church to be – what God wants His church to be – examples to the world of what speech, life, love, faith and purity look like. Whether everyone else does it the way I do, or even does it at all- I will still focus on what God has called me to do. Please don't bale. Please join me. We can still impact His church and His people. But I can have no impact on what I am not a part of or what I am not committed to. 

I pray for the decision that was made and the possible impact on many; but I pray more for my faithfulness to His calling. THAT will be my impact on my church today.
 
Rich Carlson has spent 40 years as a campus chaplain – 7 in secondary school and 33 at Union College in Lincoln, NE.