The Disappearance of Young Pastors

Last week I saw a link to Kate Shellnutt's article, "Only 1 in 7 Pastors is Under 40" appear on my social feeds a few times before I clicked through to read it and to learn about the latest research on the topic. The research was conducted by the Barna Group and Pepperdine University. It included 14,000 pastors. Findings include: Average Age of Protestant Senior Pastors 2017: 54 1992: 44 Young Senior Pastors  2017: Only 1 in 7 is under age 40 Getting Personal This topic Read More …

Clergy = Not Trusted?

According to a recent Pew Research Center Report clergy and other religious leaders are not as trusted to act in the best interest of the public as are many other groups.  More specifically, the percentage of American adults who say they have either "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of confidence that a group will act in the interest of the public follows: Medical Scientists - 84% Military - 79% Scientists - 76% K-12 Principals and Superintendents - 66% Religious Leaders - Read More …

Retiring Clergy – End of an Era

The youngest Baby Boomers reached retirement age in 2011.   10,000 Boomers a day will hit that milestone every day through the year 2030.  While not all will retire upon turning 65, it is reasonable to expect a good number will retire at some point not long thereafter. Clergy Retirement Boom Charles M. Austin's cover story in the latest edition of "The Lutheran," illustrates the significance of Boomer retirements in the life of the Lutheran church.  More specifically, he cites statistics Read More …

Too Many Clergy?

How many clergy are too many?  I don't have an answer, but do think the question is important to discuss at all levels of the church. I have heard from several colleagues and from members of search committees just how different the search process has become in recent years.  Perhaps this is why (or at least a part of the reason why): In the 1950s there were roughly the same number of ministers as there were U.S. churches. Now there are almost two ministers for every church, according to the Read More …

Churches Rely on Part-Time Clergy

While small Evangelical churches have long relied on unpaid (or very poorly paid) pastors, the same hasn't been true for small mainline congregations.  A recent article explores a trend: an increasing number of small and declining mainline congregations are opting for part-time pastoral leadership, and paying these clergy limited salaries or providing them no compensation. So What? According to Hartford Seminary's 2013 Faith Communities Today survey, mainline churches current salary Read More …

What Should Pastors Wear?

What should pastors wear during worship? Joseph Yoo, pastor of St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara (CA), recently addressed this question in a post titled "Pastor Dress Code."  He writes: What is the appropriate attire that a pastor should wear on Sunday mornings? And, is it really that important? Apparently, the issue is much, much bigger than I had ever thought it would be. So What? I found myself spending more time reading the comments than the original article.  I Read More …

Pastoral Selling

Clergy obviously need more than spirituality, academic preparation, and field education to become great bishops, deans, rectors, and vicars. Retired Navy chaplain George Clifford recently included the above quote in a blog post emphasizing the importance of the skill of selling within the framework of leadership.  He writes: Spend a day with the bishop, dean, rector, or vicar of one our relatively few growing, thriving dioceses or congregations and you will observe a leader who is a highly Read More …

Pastors of Growing Churches

What do pastors of growing churches have in common? Cynthia Woolever finds three commonalities: Age.  While pastors of all ages shepherd growing churches, those in their 50s are most likely to do so. Career Path. Statistically first career pastors are more likely to lead a growing church than are second career pastors. Tenure.  Pastors with longer tenures are more likely to lead growing churches. So What? Reviewing the profile of pastors of growing churches the most likely person Read More …

Future Church – More Egalitarian

Church v.2020 - Ten Changes: #2 More Egalitarian – Less Hierarchical When compared with the American church of 2012, the future church (v.2020) will be more egalitarian and less hierarchical.  This shift will be fueled by a greater emphasis on the priesthood of all believers, including efforts to help all within the faith community identify and use their gifts in areas of personal interest and passion; use of technology, especially to help those in the community be more connected (more Read More …

Future Church – More Scalable

Church v.2020 - Ten Changes: #9 More Scalable– Less Fixed Costs When compared with the American church of 2012, the future church (v.2020) will be intentionally and strategically more scalable as it progresses toward fewer and fewer fixed costs.  This change in philosophy will be evidenced in many ways, including: A willingness to evaluate the annual operating budget, especially human resources, in light of mission and vision.  In 2012, many congregations spend in excess of 50% of the Read More …