One Practical Reason Some Churches Struggle to Find a Pastor

In the last few years, several pastoral search teams at large and megachurches have asked me to offer insights I may have about the pool of candidates they are prayerfully considering pursuing to possibly become the church’s next senior pastor. And it has been fascinating to me that the lists are very similar. The same 5–6 pastors were on everyone’s list to consider (no, I will NOT share with you the list).

I am very grateful for the leaders these churches were prayerfully considering approaching. They are godly men who love their churches, love their communities, and serve Him faithfully. But it is also concerning that the same names show up on every list. Where are the other leaders? Are we failing to develop a new generation of leaders to serve as senior pastors?

While those are questions we must wrestle with, there is one practical reason. Demographically, there are fewer leaders who fit the typical senior pastor profile.

What do I mean by “senior pastor profile”? When a search team gets together, they often survey the church and ask what the people in the church believe are the qualities the next senior pastor should possess. A profile emerges of the type of candidate the team should consider to lead the church. Based on feedback from the church, the list mounts and one could think, “Only Jesus could be the senior pastor of this church.” But He was not married and had no kids, so even Jesus does not fit the pastoral profile of most churches.

Many churches, when looking for a senior pastor, look for someone in the age range of 40–50. After all, someone that age has experience and likely has a family and can relate to many in the church.

Someone who is currently 35–50 years old falls into Generation X, a generation that has about 10M less people than the preceding generation, the Boomers.

  • Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are between 19 and 34. There are 68.4M millennials in the US.
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) are between 35 and 50. There are 64.5M in Generation X in the US.
  • Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are between 51 and 69. There are 74.3M Boomers in the US.

So if a church is looking to hire a senior pastor from Generation X, they are looking at a smaller pool of people than the previous generation. And a smaller pool than the millennial generation.

Some churches will need to consider a broader age-range in their senior pastor profiles. God raises up leaders, often younger than our neatly packaged profiles, who are able to set an example for the believers in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:12). At the same time, God has gifted His church with seasoned leaders — currently Boomers — who have much to offer a local body.

Read more about this and other related topics on my blog at EricGeiger.com.