Presbyterians Today - Go Figure - Is a pastor shortage on the horizon?

November 2012

Is a pastor shortage on the horizon?

About half of installed and designated pastors are age 55 or older. If all of them retire in the next decade, the number of annual retirements would double from the current average of 171 to about 340. This could portend an increased need for 170 new pastors per year, under the (unlikely) assumption that no positions are lost.

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  1. The problem is that you can't grow a big congregation without a good pastor and you can't get a good pastor without a big congregation. Our little church has been struggling to get a pastor for years now. No one has been dynamic enough to attract new members to our church since the Rev. C. Herbert Oliver

    by Church of the Covenant (PCUSA)

    April 20, 2013

  2. Many eager Presbyterians responded to this sort of thought / appeal and answered their calls to ordained ministry in the middle 1970's. We were told that a demographic bump of clergy who had delayed seminary until after WW II would be retiring en masse about the time we would be seeking our second or third calls and that a glorious, even "big steeple," future awaited many. But apparently the national staff and the presbyteries' candidates committees who told us this failed to consult with any reputable economists. About the time our glory years were supposed to begin the real cost of almost every necessity began its steep rise. Consequently the size a congregation usually needed to be to support a pastor rose sharply, eliminating many second or third call opportunities. That large group of "The Greatest Generation" who had been ordained in the post-war years realized that their health was often good, their calls were still strong and that they were in no way ready for full-time rocking on the porch or fishing. Churches feeling the economic pinch soon proved eager to contract with a well-experienced pastor rather than somebody fewer years removed from seminary. Several of my seminary friends left ministry for other helping professions, some left for denominations with more equitable...and faster...clergy placement and many are now ending their active service in much smaller congregations than was predicted and, honestly, they deserved. I do still love going to presbytery meetings and seeing and hearing eager candidates move toward ordination. But I pray they are doing it with their eyes open and their ears hearing more honest advice than happened before,

    by J.R Heckerman

    November 13, 2012

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