I’ve just received the book The State of Pastors, 2017 by the Barna Group. It has been a serious study of pastors and has many statistics about changing dynamics for the church. A previous study was done in 1992 and some comparables are striking. The largest part of this sampling is, of course, from the USA.
One interesting stat is there are now more pastors over the age of 65 than under the age of 40. Another is that the average ministry tenure in 1992 was four years, but in 2017 is eleven years. Yet another stat is over half of existing pastors are over age 55.
For me in my role as coordinating pastoral settlement for the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada this data needs to be considered as we look at the future of the pastorate, of pastoral training programs, and of the nature of the church in a mere decade from now.
One interesting statement is made in the book (pg. 15), “… even faithful, kingdom-minded teens and young adults are increasingly attracted to vocations other than full-time church ministry, where their desire to make a difference can have a more entrepreneurial expression without the (real or perceived) institutional baggage of the church.”
I see keenly Christ-following young people in this generation, but the aging of today’s protestant church has taken root and has created a difficult dynamic that affects our future.
So let’s ponder these things and pray. But let us pray for a deep change that let’s us be Jesus’ instruments with capacity for this generation and the one to come.