The average age of Protestant pastors in the United States is now pretty close to the retirement age of 62.
The study was a partnership between Pepperdine University and Barna.
Barna President David Kinnaman said, “the average age of today’s Protestant leader in the last 25 years has gotten 10 years older. In 1991 when George Barna wrote his book, Today’s Pastors, the typical pastor was 44 years [old]. And now, just 25 years later, the typical pastor is 54 years old,” “This is a critical issue if we’re going to have the ranks of young leaders filling the pipeline of spiritual leadership today.”
The study, which involved interviews with more than 14,000 pastors over three years, found that only about 1 in 7 pastors was younger than 40.
In an earlier report addressing aging clergy, LifeWay President Thom Rainer said, “The most common reason for pastors and staff holding on to their current positions is financial. Like their peers in the secular world, the Great Recession took its toll on their retirement accounts. Even worse, too many did not prepare financially for retirement at all.”
The Barna study mined data from pastors in the areas of self, church, and culture. Pastors were asked questions looking at issues such as how they are growing spiritually, whether they liked working with a board of elders, how do they respond to crises, and their assessment of the toughest challenges in pastoring in today’s society.