Go visit around the churches in your area. If the article below is to be believed you would encounter more gray hair (and presumably experience and wisdom) in pulpits than the high and tight or undercut tonsorial looks (along with youth and inexperience). You would find more senior pastors who are on Medicare than Obamacare and more pastors who are seeing life’s sunset days rather than the bright days of life’s prime. The full time churches would have more senior pastors who are over 65 than under 40.
I’m feeling a little old myself. Here’s a link to a story on the research:
In the past quarter century American pastors:
- have moved from a median age of 44 to 54.
- have tripled in the over 65 age group, from 6 to almost 18 percent.
One can round up the usual suspects as the cause of this and the article suggests some causes. We baby boomers are getting older and our oversized population bubble, those born in the years 1946-1964, is steadily aging. We filled church nurseries in the 1950s. I recall First Baptist in my town swarming with babies, toddlers, and children in those years. Colleges experienced a boom in enrollment in the 1960s. Now, one cannot escape the marketing of retirement homes, medications, and things that appeal to seniors. There is not much new or unexpected relative to clergy aging but I appreciate any article that finds a riveting headline like the one above: more over 65 than under 40 is striking.
A few questions relative to Southern Baptists and our mix of clergy ages:
- Our seminaries enroll thousands. Exactly what are these people doing post seminary? We are investing tens of millions annually in them. Is it true that most have no interest in senior pastor positions? Is it worth the investment by our churches to churn out grads who dabble in ministry for a few years before moving on to something else? Just asking.
- Health insurance through Medicare is much more favorable than Obamacare or other alternatives the 64 and under folks. Is the differential in costs not sufficient for many pastors to retire? There are many smaller churches with unfilled pastorates in my area that would be well-served by a part-time retiree. I am told that economics is forcing many senior pastors to keep a full time church well beyond retirement age.
- What exactly is the mix of ages for Southern Baptist senior pastors? I don’t know. The survey above is for all Protestant pastors.
- We have yet to have a post-boomer as SBC president although J. D. Greear came very close last year.
- Several entity heads are post-boomers.
- Is our clergy age mix, particularly senior pastors, a healthy one? I’m thinking it’s not.
- If your aging church is looking for someone under 40 as your next pastor and you want someone with a senior pastor track record, good luck.
I was in an ordination council yesterday for two individuals under 30. Both were well qualified. One is likely to find a career as a senior pastor, one probably not. The observation made by the council, composed entirely of active or retired senior pastors, among which I was the oldest and the average age was about 55 was that these two guys will face a lot of different challenges in their ministerial future that we do or did.