The "We Need a Young Pastor" Myth

One of the more common assumptions of aging folk in a body of believers is that their congregation would benefit from a young pastor whom they assume would better relate to (and attract) the younger generation – the Millennials or Generation Ys (those who came of age at the turn of the millennium). In that Pastor Search Teams often include a healthy dose of aging folk, they inevitably begin a pastor search with that assumption in play.

While a young pastor may indeed be the right person for a particular congregation, as a Pastor Search Consultant one of my responsibilities is to challenge the assumption that such a pastor is the only option for an aging congregation. While that assumption may have reflected reality a generation or two ago, in this generation we have little evidence supporting its validity. In fact, the evidence suggests that the age of a pastor, while a factor, has far less significance to Millennials than their parents and grandparents assume. Instead, when we look at congregations with a significant percentage of Millennials, we discover that they respect and relate to a pastor of any age – as long as that pastor is deserving of respect and is able to relate to people of all ages.

Furthermore, the pool of veteran pastors (50-60 something years old) is one of the best to fish! With the new but unofficial retirement age of pastors moving closer to seventy years of age, this pool includes many outstanding pastors with priceless experience.Add to that, they relate well to young adults (who happen to be about the same ages of their children). 

ChapterNext recently had the privilege of partnering with two congregations which recently called two pastors from this pond. In February, the Bethel Christian Reformed Church (Fulton, IL) will welcome the Rev. Kevin Ver Hoeven who most recently served the Cornerstone Community Church of Mears, MI. In March, the Morrison Christian Reformed Church (IL) will welcome the Rev. James Petersen who comes from Crossroads Fellowship in West Des Moines, Iowa.  Both pastors come to their new contexts with hopes of finishing strong, and both have the gifts, energy, and strength to do just that.

There will be many more such stories as an increasing number of Pastor Search Teams recognize the value of veteran and gifted pastors who desire to run the race and finish strong.

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