America’s Pastors are Getting Older…
I am working on a book project for pastors and I want to share with you a bit of research I’ve come across. Perhaps the most surprising so far is that America’s Pastors are Getting Older. At least that is the conclusion of a major study conducted by Barna Research and Pepperdine University this past year. And with it comes major implications for the future of the church.
When George Barna published his 1992 findings in Today’s Pastors, the median age of Protestant clergy was 44 years old. One in three pastors was under the age of 40, and one in four was over 55. Just 6 percent were 65 or older. Twenty-five years later, the average age is 54. Only one in seven pastors is under 40, and half are over 55. The percentage of church leaders 65 and older has nearly tripled, meaning there are now more pastors in the oldest age bracket than there are leaders younger than 40. The upward climb did not begin in the 1990s. In 1968, 55 percent of all Protestant clergy were under the age of 45—that is, the majority of all church leaders were in their 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s. In 2017, just 22 percent are under 45.
The study reports numerous reasons for the trend. Chief among them is the insufficient number of young would-be pastors. A majority of current pastors say even finding future leaders—much less mentoring them—is a challenge. Two out of three current pastors believe identifying suitable candidates is becoming more difficult (69%), even though a majority believes their church is doing what it takes (69%). Additionally, the Schaeffer Institute revealed some even more stunning statistics impacting our churches:
- 90% of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
- 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
- 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could.
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
- 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
- 80% of spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
- 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
- 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
- Only 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
This week begins my 18th year as your shepherd and because of your support, trust and love, along with a wife that has supported, encouraged and prayed for me, I can say that through the years, I have battled with only a few of the above items. And because of that, I believe that I and RBC are just hitting our stride! Thank you and let’s continue forward for the Kingdom.
Prove the Tithe Sunday… was another act of obedience with blessing! I am excited for you and for our church every time we do something specifically commanded by the Lord because I know that He will honor His Word in your life and in our work for Him here at RBC. It is my prayer that you will continue, throughout the year, to obey, to tithe, and to reap the blessing of God as He has promised. And remember, God is always trying to take you someplace new. I love being your Pastor!