In regards to the recent article “Pipeline slows to a trickle” (July/Aug 2023) there is an obvious elephant in the room that was totally ignored. Many proposals were provided for the possible reasons for this shortage: fewer are choosing ministry, colleges are not attracting them, lack of churches calling out candidates, changing generational expectations, mental health and stressors with younger generations, the pandemic, suspicion of the church, interest in other careers or not a valued career, cultural differences, ineffective recruiting strategies, post Christian era, rejection of institutional church and the fear of being critiqued and cancelled.
Without a doubt these are viable issues in regards to increasing leadership in the MB Church. However, the elephant in the room is: 50 percent of the Church population is not allowed to be leaders. When you automatically reject 50 percent of your “pool” of prospects, what do you think will happen?
As the Mennonite Brethren became established in the northern hemisphere, they ordained over 100 women in 60 years. In 1957, they rescinded this practice. Within 20 years, the call to review this decision began, debating how women could be used within the MB church.
I have been actively involved in MB conferences, discussions and Bible studies regarding women in ministry since the 1970’s. For over 50 years, I have been hopeful that God’s calling for women in pastoral/ministry roles would be recognized and that the power of the Spirit to descend upon anyone would be affirmed.
I fear that the MB church is heading for a leadership shortage, as with all those who contributed to this article. However, I am also fearful that this shortage is self-imposed and although we have Spirit-led women who could be called upon to serve, we would prefer to starve to death. There is an elephant that could be “eaten” in the room, if only we would open our eyes to see it.
NOTE: The article written by Janae Rempel pertaining to a leadership shortage deals with many leadership positions, not just lead pastor. USMB licenses many women for pastoral positions with the exception of lead pastor. In addition, a shortage of leaders is not just a USMB concern. Denominations across America are experiencing much the same, even the ones that license women for lead pastor. — Don Morris, USMB national director
This article has been posted by Christian Leader staff. The Christian Leader is the magazine of U.S. Mennonite Brethren.