The life of a single, female, millennial pastor! –

By Alicia McClintic

On the podcast this week, Josiah and I had a chance to talk about what it’s like being not only a millennial pastor, but also being a single pastor and a feminist in a really patriarchal context.

And I know that sometimes people get a little scared by the word “feminist”… But there’s no need to be scared about it. Feminism is simply the notion that women’s rights are human rights, and that we should work to achieve complete political, economic, and social equality for women and men. If you’re curious about feminist theology or want to explore more about what it means to be a Christian and to be a feminist, here’s a blog post I wrote with some reflections and resources.    

We also spent some time on the podcast talking about what it’s like being a single pastor. Church, we do not talk about this enough. Did you know that singles now outnumber married adults in the United States? But, our church life is fundamentally targeted to married folks (with children), which leaves so many single folks feeling alienated and invisible.  

Moving from the pews to the pulpit has in some ways magnified my experience of the ways single folks are invisible in the Church, and I have thought a lot about what I wish the Church knew about what it’s like to be a single pastor.

For as long as I’ve been in the Church, I’ve heard some version of “I’m praying for your husband!” or “It’ll happen when it happens!” They mean well, but their unspoken assumptions are that single = bad, 30ish = bad, so being single and 30ish must be the worst kind of misery. Here’s the thing: I’m not miserable. I have a full and fulfilling life, with a community of deep friendships, compelling work that I care about, and significant dreams and goals I’m moving toward. I would love to share this full and fulfilling life with a spouse, but I’m not pining away for something I don’t have. And, the truth is, I might never get married. Not because I don’t want to be married, but because someone might not want to marry me. I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way, just that I might never meet and fall in love with someone willing and able to integrate their life with mine as it takes this particular shape and direction as a local church pastor. As the Church, can you help me hold those tensions as my community? Can you be my tribe, my home, my roots? Can you fold me into your life just as I am?   

Recently I was at a seminar about pastoral health and wellness, and the statistics reflected an exclusive attention to the impact of ministry stress on married pastors, their spouses, and their children. What about single pastors who hold the stress of ministry alone? Where are we in the statistics? How can we hope to care for single pastors if their stories aren’t even being told or represented in the narrative at all?   

I hope we can create space to hear the stories and experiences of single clergy, both to acknowledge their unique struggles and joys and also to see beyond the labels of “single” and “pastor.” I’ve been so grateful for places in my life where that’s been possible, like the Mentoring for Ministry program with NTS’s Center for Pastoral Leadership where we have a chance to look at the challenges of ministry in so many different contexts and life stages and find a community of support and encouragement. I hope sharing a bit of my experience encourages you to reach out to your single friends and ask them to share their story: “How could we minister better to you as a whole person? How can we support you? What do you need?” or just “Would you like to come over for dinner?”

Church, if we start there, we’re well on the way to being a the hospitable community I know we can be.   



Currently, Alicia serves as the lead pastor at Hayward First Church of the Nazarene, a multi-cultural, multi-congregational church in the East Bay. Along with the Possibility Project and the NorCal District, Hayward is remodeling their parsonage to house collaborative, female-led, missional work in a multi-cultural context (learn more about the Hayward Mission). Alicia is also the the co-host of the podcast for A Plain Account (an online Wesleyan lectionary commentary). She shares some thoughts about faith and life on her blog (, as well as resources for engaging the liturgical year and advocating for women in ministry. Reading, writing, editing, studying, and preaching keep her pretty busy, but you’ll also find her Instagramming new coffee shops or hunting down the best California burrito, like any self-respecting millennial.  


The story continues. Perhaps you have heard it by listening to our podcast, or maybe you have read some of the stories shared on this blog. We are proud to say that our denomination, the Church of the Nazarene is investing in pastors like us. They are spending time, energy and money on assuring we are equipped to not only lead the church of today, but also the church of tomorrow. You can help too! Share our stories, and celebrate with us, or even consider donating to the Mentoring for Ministry initiative by clicking the Nazarene Theological Seminary logo. Invest in the future of the church and help its leaders get the training and mentoring they need to take on the task at hand!

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