Posts Tagged ‘hiring a pastor; hiring a younger pastor; hiring an older pastor; benefits of hiring an older pastor; advantages of hiring an older pastor’

If a church is seeking to hire a new pastor, how old should he be?

Based on what I’m seeing in the Christian community these days, most churches are looking to hire pastors who are 35-50 years of age.  In fact, I recently saw an ad where a church stated they preferred candidates ages 30 to 50.  (Isn’t it illegal to advertise the age you’re seeking?)

This trend is understandable.  Someone in that 20-year age span probably:

*has started a family.

*has completed his education.

*is in good health and possesses loads of energy.

*knows technology and social media.

*can reach younger families.

*understands popular culture and its language.

*intends to stay for many years.

I was ordained at age 26 and became a solo pastor at age 27.  Although my pastor felt I was ready to lead a church, I wanted to wait until I was 30.

In retrospect, I wish I’d become an associate pastor for 2-3 years before becoming a pastor.  The jump from youth pastor to pastor is quite a leap.

From ages 27-35, I got beat up … a lot.  Every other Monday, I wanted to resign.  Maybe this is why 70% of seminary grads quit the ministry 5 years after leaving school.  Church ministry is hard work … and can be soul-damaging.

But the best years of my ministry started when I was 35 … unlike most athletes, who are washed up by that age.

However, once a pastor passes 50 years of age … some would say 55 … it’s very difficult to be hired by a church.  Why?

*The pastor’s kids may have grown up and left home … and some churches want a pastor with kids.

*A pastor 50+ is probably slowing down and lacks the energy of his youth.

*An unspoken concern is that an older pastor may become chronically ill or even die due to ministry stress.  (I knew a church where the pastor had a heart attack and it took him 9 months to recover.)

*There may be concerns that an older pastor won’t be able to relate to youth or younger families.

*And the perception is that an older pastor may be set in his ways.

However, I believe that many churches could benefit from hiring older pastors … those 50 and up.  Examples:

*My mother’s church in Arizona hired a pastor who was 58.  The church has grown significantly, having just remodeled their worship center.

*A long-time friend and college classmate – who is in his late 50s – was recently hired as pastor of a church in New England.

*Another friend and seminary classmate became a pastor in his fifties … he’s almost 60 now … and the church he leads is growing like crazy.

*The pastor of the church we attended in Arizona … one of America’s best churches … is in his sixties.

*A pastor whose church I visited in Arizona leads a church for seniors … and he’s having the time of his life!

In fact, many pastors enjoy their best years after age 50.

What are the benefits of hiring an older pastor?

*He knows his God-given calling, temperament, and giftedness and so is more secure with himself.  Many younger pastors struggle for years trying to figure these things out … and some never do.

*He knows that he doesn’t have the energy to do everything … a temptation most younger pastors have … so he chooses to share the ministry with other gifted staff and leaders.

*He has a 20-30 year history of knowing what works and doesn’t work in church ministry … so he can focus on what works instead.

*He may not need to be paid as much as a younger pastor.  (He may not need as big a home, but he does need medical insurance!)

*He isn’t shocked by the misbehavior of Christians … has been through most life experiences … and has developed a compassionate heart.

*He isn’t as anxious or impatient as many younger pastors are … and these traits have a calming effect on the entire church.

Contrary to popular perception, many older pastors do use social media … and keep up with the culture well … and love all forms of music (rock included) … and are very healthy … and would be willing to make ministry commitments of 5-10 years.  In fact, I’ve been told that some churches prefer to hire an older, “bridge” pastor for 5-7 years before hiring someone younger.

Hiring a pastor … just like anyone else … all comes down to fit.

In many situations, a younger pastor works best.

But for other scenarios, an older pastor might be optimal.

Why should a church consider an older pastor?

I’d love to hear your reasons!

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