(RNS) Young clergy face daunting odds: dwindling membership in organized religion, denominations best known for fighting over LGBT people and a host of alternatives for millennial spirituality outside of church.
Fear not. The following tips will set the young clergyperson on the path to success beyond their wildest seminary dreams:
- Lay low for the first two years while you get to know your congregation.
- Remember this formula: talking to 100 random people at coffee shops will gain you 20 new worship visitors and net 3 new members, which is halfway to your six new members-a-week membership growth target.
- Be ambitious! Jump right in and let the chips fall where they may.
- Dress the part, Rabbi Young-But-Super-Serious.
- If you’re married, great! Your spouse can be expected to report to the children’s education wing at 8am.
- If you nail this sermon, everyone in congregation will start treating each other like human beings.
- Don’t ignore seniors, or children, or young singles, or the staff, or the community, or people in [insert foreign country] or congregants’ pets.
- Keep your distance from your congregants. Spiritually enriching relationships start with healthy boundaries.
- Dress down, Rev. Casual-Friendly-Approachable.
- If you nail this sermon, hunger and war will end.
- Hang out with your congregants. A lot. You’re no different than them, right?
- Be yourself, but don’t offend anyone.
- Don’t mind offending anyone, they need to hear you speak The Truth.
- Don’t mess this up: only first impressions matter.
- Get arrested for protesting [insert your tradition’s favorite cause].
- Prove your worth early by showing off all your theological knowledge.
- No one likes a know-it-all.
- Don’t pray too much, lest you be seen as overly pietistic.
- If you nail this sermon, you will never be subjected to advice about how to be a better clergyperson again.
- Fully disconnect from ministry obligations one day a year.
- Grab coffee with other local clergy, except [insert religious group you don’t like] of course.
- Like the Beatles said: all you need is love. But also entertaining sermons, and meeting every need of every congregant.
- If you nail this sermon, the pews will be full the following the week.
- Take 10 deep breaths, then say “why not?” to [insert something you never imagined when you decided to go into ministry.]
- God created the entire universe in six days, what have you done this week?
Have your own tips you want to share? Leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org