Are our pulpits full of preachers who want to quit but haven't yet?

"Even if we haven’t seen a dramatic increase in pastoral attrition, many people believe it’s still coming.... If the bubble does burst later this year or next, all eyes are on three demographics: pastors early in their careers, those nearing retirement, and bivocational ministers." - C.Today

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Ed Vasicek's picture

As a pastor who is in the process of retiring and trying to help his church find a replacement, I found this article an example of sincere but fake news.

A dozen years ago, if a church posted at various schools and sites, churches would receive scores -- sometimes 200 resumes within a couple fo months.  Now it is one or two. Or none.

Something is wrong somewhere.  Trinity seminary is down 44% from twenty years ago.  How many other Bible colleges have closed and merged, and seminaries cut back?  It might be the entrance level that is most responsible.  I know of at least one pastor who quit during the Pandemic.  Whatever is causing the shortage, there is one.

Polls in the article demonstrate how out of touch these pollsters and these analysts are;

Young, beginning pastors are often told that the first five years of ministry will weed out those who aren’t in it for the right reasons. Some put the five-year attrition rate at as high as 85 percent. But most reliable studies estimate that number actually ranges from 1 percent to 16 percent. (Compare that to the 44 percent of new public and private school teachers who leave education before their fifth year ends.)

Is it 85% of new pastors who don't survive five years, or is it 1 percent?  How could anybody that knows anything about ministry think that only 1% of new pastors quit before or at five years?  The diverge in these statistics alone demonstrates how actually clueless the experts are.

This entire article does not seem to match the reality of placement services and those who have experience finding pastors for churches.  They all say things are worse.

If there is anyone on SI who is actually involved in helping churches find pastors in current times who could say that there is no shortage, please speak up!

 

"The Midrash Detective"

Ed Vasicek's picture

Just heard from a friend who is involved with this for an evangelical denomination.  He says young candidates are very rare these days.

This adds weight to the idea that part of the problem, at least, is from a lack of new men entering the ministry.

"The Midrash Detective"

G. N. Barkman's picture

Our church was recently looking for a full time minister of youth, as our previous one decided to cut back to part time (at age 70).  He continues to do visitation in hospitals and rest homes, as well as our Silver Saints meetings.  We thought we were going to call a young man who was already a member of our church, but we continued to seek God's wisdom.  Out of the blue, we received a call from a young man in South Carolina, who proved to be a perfect fit.  Long story short, he became our Minister of Youth the first of January, and has great potential.  We never posted the position, nor advertised it in any way, but God knew the need, and He supplied in answer to prayer.  It doesn't always happen that way, but when it does, it's easy to believe that God made His will known.

G. N. Barkman

Steve Newman's picture

I was between churches for a short time about 3 years ago, and put my resume on one Bible college's web site. I was in discussions with a couple churches right away, one of which I am pastoring now. 

Despite the fact that my resume as pastor could not show a lot of great outward successes, I got phone calls from all over the U.S., even though I have been in one region throughout my ministry. 

The fellowship I am part of consists of a little over 100 churches. The last year has seen about 15% of them without pastors, and the leaders of the fellowship would probably confirm that there are very few candidates. 

pvawter's picture

Some of this may simply reflect the difference in size between generations. Boomers are quite numerous, Gen X significantly less so. With the retirement (and death) of many boomer pastors, the number of replacements in the next generation are naturally fewer. Not sure if Millennials are not as interested in pastoring, or if we're just young enough that some are not ready to step into those boomer shoes yet.

G. N. Barkman's picture

In my circles, there are more men interested in pastoral ministry than there are opportunities to serve.  In my church, we have two former pastors in their 40's and 50's who would be happy to serve again if a position opened up to them.  We have four younger men with ministerial training who would like to be in pastoral ministry.  I see something similar in other churches like ours.  So what gives?  I have occasionally pondered that question myself.  I think it has to be related to theological position.  Calvinist Baptist churches are relatively rare.  Men with a passion to preach who are committed to Calvinist Baptist theology outnumber churches.  Our church planted a church in a city 50 miles away, and now that church is planting one nearly 100 miles away.  I see similar church plants going on in other cities in North Carolina.  Its a good way to utilize available men and increase the number of like-minded churches.  (Maybe some of you ought to consider changing theology.  :)  

G. N. Barkman

Don Johnson's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

In my circles, there are more men interested in pastoral ministry than there are opportunities to serve.  In my church, we have two former pastors in their 40's and 50's who would be happy to serve again if a position opened up to them.  We have four younger men with ministerial training who would like to be in pastoral ministry.  I see something similar in other churches like ours.  So what gives?  I have occasionally pondered that question myself.  I think it has to be related to theological position.  Calvinist Baptist churches are relatively rare.  Men with a passion to preach who are committed to Calvinist Baptist theology outnumber churches.  Our church planted a church in a city 50 miles away, and now that church is planting one nearly 100 miles away.  I see similar church plants going on in other cities in North Carolina.  Its a good way to utilize available men and increase the number of like-minded churches.  (Maybe some of you ought to consider changing theology.  :)  

How about these men figure out how to go out and plant churches to suit their theology? Why are they waiting around to reap the fruit of someone else's labour?

On the other hand, if there are so many non-Calvinist churches looking for men to fill the pulpits, maybe it is your men who need to change their theology.

In reality, I don't think the theology issue is the main issue. I think there are a combination of factors including the generational dynamics that pvawter mentioned.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3