Young Southern Baptist Pastor

Helping Young Pastors Stay in the SBC

Pastor Shortage

Posted by youngsbcpastor on August 15, 2008

I was reading THE Baptist Message back in June and came across a guest editorial by Mike Holloway, President of the Louisiana Baptist Convention http://www.baptistmessage.com/articledetail.php?articleID=6e840f6b3e7b8931a72f015bbfa1c7e1 You should really read this if you are interested in Southern Baptist ministry today.  If you connect this statement of a pastor shortage in LA with the recent Lifeway Research article by Ed Stetzer http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/article_main_page/0%2C1703%2CA%25253D166925%252526M%25253D200906%2C00.html   I believe this the first of many sympthoms of the growing pastor shortage.

The “Pastor Shortage” is coming upon the SBC like Y2K.  You remember the days before Y2K when there were a lot of rumors and everyone was trying to stockpile water and getting wood fire places put in their houses.  Nobody really understood Y2K, but everybody seemed to have an opinion about whether we were headed to the stone age overnight.  It might be that by 2020 were heading back to the frontier days of traveling preachers, more lay-pastors and an entirely different idea of the qualifications and education of the local pastor.   I need to come up with a quick little saying to describe this, maybe readers can help.  What is as easy to say as Y2K but means, “If your church has less then 80 people actively attending you have a 50/50 chance of having a pastor.”  I’m thinking PS20, but people might believe I’m talking about a really great playstation.

PS20 is the fact that nearly half our senior pastors are entering into the last 10 year of their ministry before retirement, and if the high stress of pastoring (and the normal life expectancy of Americans about 77) holds constant than about 25% of our current pastor will be in heaven in 2020.  Over half of pastor are in their late 50 and 25% are in the late 60s.  Most will either retire or “go on to be with the Lord” over the next ten years. 

When I heard this news I thought, no big deal most SBC pastors go to seminary later in life, we are just an old denomination.  But research shows we usually were kinda young.  We are getting older and there are fewer young leaders staying in the ministry and in the SBC.  PS20 means we start dying as a denomination.  The LA Baptist Message article is especially disturbing.  I have contacted the 12 churches without pastors mentioned, and basically with an SBC seminary, a SBC college, the state convention, and being the Bible belt on providing pastors, there is still a tremendous shortage….. If a church with all these resources available can’t find a pastor, what will the majority of our traditional, small (and getting smaller) rural and inner-city churches do?

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9 Responses to “Pastor Shortage”

  1. As a second-career pastor with a seminary degree (MA) I’m one of the guys that should be helping out with the shortage of pastors, but my experience since being called to the ministry has been extremely negative. There has been no moral or ethical question as to my ministry or family in any way, shape, or form, but these small “family chapel” churches chew up and spit out pastors, young and old, at an alarming rate, and for no reason. In our area (Western Kentucky) there are over 20 churches without pastors, some for long periods. A couple of guys in their 80s have acutally been called as pastors in small churches around here.

  2. Donald said

    I can say AMEN to Charley. My experience is similar to his. I don’t have an MA though.

    I have applied to many churches, and know some good men that have done the same. Some christians don’t have a clue to correspondence and courtesy.

    There are many churches that haven’t contacted many good men back, about their status as a candidate. I had one church never return one of my audio sermons.

    I truly believe there are a large number of churches that are pastorless, because they are focused inwardly on their likes and dislikes, and not an objective standard for looking at a godly man’s scriptural qualilfications.

    The pastors that are looking for a big or perfect church, or location are a small minority versus those that would be willing to take a small fellowship.

    I think the LA Baptist situation is a reflection of the SBC, and the baptist church in the United States as a whole.

  3. Douglas Bailey said

    My name is Douglas Bailey and I am a licensed pastor for the SBC have had my resume out their, without a response, will to relocate from Kansas. I have a servant heart, will to serve God, with Godly values for the lost. So if any church wants an energenic pastor. Call my resume is on pator finder.com. Thanks for more information just send and E-Mail.

  4. Steve Cox said

    I am 53 and have been in ministry since 1975. I very well understand the frustrations that I hear. I am a seminary professor at a Baptist Seminary. My job probably would be at stake if I revealed my identity. Several of my students express these same frustrations. My experience and observations are several: 1.) The lay leadership of some churches is incompetent. They do not observe integrity by making shallow promises, failure to be honest, and failure to treat men of God as God’s messengers; 2.) All too often, especially in large associations, preachers both young and old have to deal with the DOMS favoritism of certain people based on the size of the church and how much money their churches give to the local association. Often these are old preachers who are sent out by the DOM and that closes the door on young men like many of you. The state convention offices are also political.
    What is the solution? Well, I started/planted a church on my own, w/o the support or blessings of the local Association, the State Convention, or NAMB. We started as a SBC group by name. I was a seminary student during these days. We found land where there was no church close by. We did not have any money so we met in a chapel of a school of another denomination. Within three months we bought land and began building. Within six months we sought watch care from the local Association; however, they voted the church in as a full member instead. During our first year we gave third in our Association, State, and the Cooperative Program among 50 churches in our Association. I do not say this to brag. I say this to encourage you to make a place of ministry: a church plant, a nursing home, a state park at a nearby lake, etc. These people, that many of you have discussed, do not deserve good men like you who have the call and zeal to do ministry.

    I pray that our Great and Wonderful God will open doors for you.

    In Christ,

    Steve

  5. a.k.a. K-Dub said

    begin rant
    I agree with what Donald said. I have submitted resumes to over 150 churches. Less than 10% have had the decency (normal in secular business) to even acknowledge receipt of a resume. In addition, there is a feeling as I talk to fellow pastors that the only real way to get into a church is to have been recommended by the DOM, a state leader, or a similar person.

    While I admire Steve going out and starting a church, not all of us have the ability to do so. Being a church planter takes a set of skills that are often different than those needed to pastor and grow an established church. In addition, being a church planter requires that you are either self-supporting/bivocational or that you give in to the good old boy network and get the state and associational leaders to give you funding. Again, some people have the ability and calling to be bivocational, but many of us cannot invest the 40 hour weeks required by a job, the 30-40 hour weeks required to effectively start a church and still maintain our health and family relationships.

    I think that the biggest problems come in from NAMB and the cooperative program. NAMB will claim someone as one of their missionaries if they supply only $50 per month to the person’s ministry. If NAMB were required to report how many fully supported missionaries they have, the number would cut to a small fraction. Then take out the DOMs in emerging regions who are “NAMB missionaries” and the number shrinks even further.

    In the cooperative program, too many of our state conventions keep money for large administration staffs and buying camps that sit nearly empty for 3/4 of the year. Small churches often cannot afford to hire a pastor at a living wage. Many of the retiring group of pastors have pensions from the military or other careers which pay their bills. If we could shift money from 1 administration position, we could help 2-4 small churches with funding to hire a pastor at a living wage. Given time, that church would then be likely to grow so that the funding was no longer needed. Of course, we will never do that, because we refuse to fund churches and the churches are too proud to move themselves into a mission status.
    end rant

  6. Pastor Jay Squires said

    I have been applying for a church position for the last year, I find it hard to believe that there is a pastor shortage when churches have declined to call or talk to me. You can’t really find out what a man is like by viewing a piece of paper or see how dedicated he is to serving God if you never personally talk to the man himself. I went to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and have an MDIV. I think people think I’m too old or something! Men of God never ever really retire. I have been a Bi-vocational pastor as well as a full time pastor. I’m to that point in my life where I want to go back to the full time pastorate because I am no longer able to do both. I’ve always pastored the smaller church and planted churches. I am by no means ready to be put out to pasture like an old horse and thats the impression I’m getting from some of the churches. Whats wrong with this picture? Do they want a man called of God or do they want one that meets mans standards? I’ll get off my soap box now but that’s how I feel right now. I Love my Lord and am ready and willing to serve him, What are the churches really wanting? Thank you for your time Pastor Squires

  7. I’m looking for a church in or near hickory nc.topastor will pastor for free I lovethe lord called to preach in 2003 anointed and spiritual love to serve the lord god bless 704-308-1726 or 704-530-0677 if you know a church needing a pastor please call

  8. Jack said

    Well, most of these churches don’t have pastors because they pay too little and expect too much. How many people want to accept these requirements: 5-9 years senior pastor experience, 100′s of duties. Salary: $18,000 a year. I’ve never understood how a guy that has never pastored before gets a pastorate?

    I’ve sent out many resumes but I assume since I have a hispanic last name no one will consider me even though I don’t even speak Spanish.

  9. rev michael d. butler sr said

    amen to all my brothern! i think it’s more about having someone with a big name! that does alittle. it seems like the chruches today don’t wont a faithful servant to the lord, will to teach god word to his people. but they wont someone that will give them a happymeal sermon!
    rev m.d. butler sr

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