Every seven seconds a baby boomer retires, about 10,000 a day. That is the pace of potential retirement taking place every day since January 1, 2011. At the pace will continue until the end of 2029.
A lot of baby boomer pastors are retiring. Concurrently we are seeing many of these pastors retire and stay in the church where they retired. Frequently, I am asked my thoughts on this issue. Allow me to share seven of those thoughts in this post.
- Don’t expect retired pastors to sever all of their church relationships. That would not be a fair expectation. That is one of the primary reasons pastors hang around post retirement.
- If the relationship is healthy with the new pastor, the advantages of having the retired pastor in the church can be numerous. The retired pastor can offer wisdom and experience that can benefit the new pastor. The retired pastor can also be the advocate of the current pastor.
- Because the church needs to allow the new pastor to develop an identity as the shepherd/leader, it is advisable for the retiring pastor to take an extended break from the church. I typically advise retired pastors to take at least a year off from attending the church where they retired. This will give new pastors time to establish their leadership and personal approach to ministry.
- The longer the tenure of the retired pastor, the longer the break should be from the church. While I recommend a break of at least one year for all retired pastors, that break should be longer for those who had long tenure at the church. I define long tenure as more than seven years.
- Retired pastors should not try to be the pastor to church members. That is the role of the new pastor. Though a cry of help from a church member may be tempting to answer, retired pastors should point church members to the new pastor. Otherwise, a true transition will not take place.
- The retired pastor should not be perceived to be second guessing the current pastor. Retired pastors create an “us vs. them” scenario when they express displeasure at something the current pastor is doing. Members then are compelled to take sides. It is disastrous for churches.
- The current pastor should not denigrate the former ministry of the retired pastor. Again, this approach creates the division noted above. It is a classless act.
I know this topic is on the minds of many of you readers because you share that with me via comments and social media. Now is the opportunity for you to weigh in on this issue. Let me hear from you.
Posted on October 26, 2015
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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