Yes, of course there are, but how many are left?

In 2015 Nazarene Pensions and Benefits put out the graphic above in one of their publications.

A quick overview will tell you two things:

  1. The biggest age group then (and almost certainly now) of “active” pastors in the USA was over the age of retirement.
  2. Of the 4,155 active pastors, only 506 were under 40 (Millennials). That’s only 12%. By comparison, Millennials account for nearly a quarter of the USA population. We must also take Gen Z into account, a generation which is absent above, and makes up 20% of the USA.

In the “real world” Millennials account for 35% of the workforce in this country. A fact which is not the represented in the church sadly. This trend is also not something new. Here is what the Barna Research group had to say about it:

When George Barna published his 1992 findings in Today’s Pastors, the median age of Protestant clergy was 44 years old. One in three pastors was under the age of 40, and one in four was over 55. Just 6 percent were 65 or older. Twenty-five years later, the average age is 54. Only one in seven pastors is under 40, and half are over 55. The percentage of church leaders 65 and older has nearly tripled, meaning there are now more pastors in the oldest age bracket than there are leaders younger than 40.

This trend is clear to seen within the Nazarene denomination as well. In 2000, according to the Research Office in the Global Ministry Center, just over 20% of Lead Pastors in the SW region of the USA/CA were under 40. in 2020 (pre-covid) those numbers were down to 12.5%.

All in all, the numbers don’t look great, and unless we take a look at the heart of the problem (we produce an entire podcast that chronicles what this is), these trends will continue.

In the future, I hope to give a more updated look at how many Millennial Pastors are left in our denomination. I have requested the data from headquarters, and once I have the numbers, I will publish my findings as soon as possible.

– Josiah Jones

A Millennial Pastor

Nazarene Pastors Age Distribution
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