by | Nov 28, 2023 | Ministry Leader, Next generation, Pastor, Relationships, Teaching

The average age of a clergy member today is 57, compared to age 50 in 2000 (Lifeway Research). Half of all American pastors today are older than age 55.

These realities are ubiquitous across every denomination we work with. And it begs the question: Is the talent pool merely shallow? Is God not calling enough leaders into vocational ministry? Or . . . is the talent pool afraid? Afraid to take on a role that while extremely fulfilling, also carries with it a lot of complexity?

In Part Two of our conversation around engaging the next generation of leaders, John and Jim unpack helpful answers to the question posed to more than twenty young leaders: “What would you say to pastors who want to engage and enlist a younger generation?”


“What would you say to pastors who want to engage and enlist a younger generation?”

  1. They want spiritual parents who genuinely care about them, not a boss who only cares about results.
    • “They need fathers and mothers that are full of grace and who see God’s finished work in them, especially when they don’t see it themselves.”
    • “We are hungry to learn, so let us listen and ask questions. Be vulnerable and transparent with us.”
    • “Just like children, they will mess up. Expect it and prepare your reaction to it. A good parent doesn’t immediately find another child to replace them, they take the time to teach with patience, love, and wisdom.”


  1. They want the sense of “full share” partnership and ownership. They don’t want to work at your church. They want to partner with you and God at theirs.
    • “Giving them the freedom to try new things, letting them know that you trust them and being available for advice/help is huge.
    • “You have to relinquish control. The tighter you squeeze the less you’ll get. You have to give them the ability to lead. Truly lead. Not just give them the illusion of leadership.”


Final thoughts:

  • Trade your wisdom for their knowledge. You need each other.
  • A meal is ten times more powerful than a meeting.
  • Fathers and mothers get sons and daughters. Bosses will only get employees. The best of them will never appear until you love them apart from their job descriptions.