Pastors Are Not Quitting in Droves

"We’ve all heard, and perhaps shared, these 'staggering' scary stats about pastors who leave the ministry every month. The truth is sometimes worse than myth, but fortunately not in this case." - Facts & Trends

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Steve Newman's picture

Pastors are retiring in droves. The older generation is getting older and there is not the volume of young pastors to replace them.

TylerR's picture


Has anyone ever wondered what a "drove" even is?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Bert Perry's picture

It's worth noting that a 1% attrition rate would suggest a mean pastorate of about 63 years, which even given pastors in their eighties, seems a bit long.  Perhaps the author means that 1% of pastors resign and find another job for reasons other than retirement?  I would guess that getting good statistics on this would be very difficult, especially given how independent a lot of churches are.  

That said, I do know my church has had a heck of a time trying to attract a new youth pastor, so I can at least say that young men aren't coming out of the woodwork to serve my church in its current theological mold--and of course at the current pay scale.  So we would infer that we need to break things down by smaller "orbits" than "evangelicals as a whole".

Whatever size orbit we use, however, we've got to figure out what a reasonable attrition rate is.  If we assume that an average man will have at least two distinct careers in his life, that annualized attrition rate could be as high as 3-5% without pastoral roles being in danger--at least as long as churches understand this and organize their pastoral searches and compensation accordingly.  Given the number of Bible college graduates I meet who are doing things like selling insurance and moving furniture, I quite frankly think it would be a huge benefit if Bible colleges and seminaries took greater pains to help their students find alternative careers.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.