[image by jakeoneil]

Last week I posted Exploring the Online Characteristics of Generation F/Y, and Their Implications-Part 1. This series was born out of my fascination with the great article, The Facebook Generation vs. the Fortune 500. And for the first post focused on the first “online characteristic” of this generation, All ideas compete on equal footing.

Today I want to take a look at another characteristic:

2. Contribution counts for more than credentials. When you post a video to YouTube, no one asks you if you went to film school. When you write a blog, no one cares whether you have a journalism degree. Position, title, and academic degrees—none of the usual status differentiators carry much weight online. On the Web, what counts is not your resume, but what you can contribute.

I’m really curious about this characteristic and whether you agree or not? I still think some credentials are important, and some even necessary to certain vocations. But I do think it’s becoming less important. I tell my wife quite a bit that I’m not even sure college will be relevant when my daughter turns 18. Training schools, apprentices, self-learning, etc. But who knows. I have some credentials that are relevant to my work. My M.Div. isn’t necessary in some church circles, but it was helpful, and pretty much required for the denomination I have been in the last 8 years. My MSMFT is necessary though if I want to practice as a marriage and family therapist in any state.

But with the explosion of online collaboration, contribution and socializing, this need to justify ourselves through credentials seems to be collapsing. This is an especially strong point of tension in many churches. Online is a place where the junior high kid who posts a funny video, or the college student who makes a film, or the young adult who writes a blog…has as much credentials, and quite possibly as big of a listening and watching audience as does the pastor preaching on Sunday morning.

I think where this tension will become more apparent is denominationally. Many denominations have huge barriers for ordination and participation in certain leadership structures. Not everyone is going to be willing to jump through those hoops, and I think those who will be willing to do so will continue to shrink. That’s why I think denominations like the PCUSA will continue to shrink up, losing more and more bright and future leaders to other forms of church structure and ecclesiology.

Are credentials important in your church?

Does the need for these credentials exclude leaders who could participate more fully in the life of church ministry?