By Grady King –
As a young preacher I was told, “We like you but we’re looking for someone with more experience.”
As a middle aged preacher I was told, “We really need a younger preacher who can connect with our young couples and be here a while.”
And after age 60, the lines on the face and scars in the heart are seen as a detriment, rather than maturity and greater capacity to minister. Granted, not all ministers over 60 are in a good, healthy place in their soul and spirit. Neither are all those who are young. Lines on the face and scars in the heart often means that a minister has been broken enough to be used powerfully by God. As an older sister told me as young minister, “The millstones of our God grind slow but very fine.” And you know what a millstone does, don’t you?
I write on behalf of several ministers I know who are 55 plus and have been quickly rejected by preacher search committees and/or elder groups because of age and all the assumptions that go with it (i.e., out of touch, lack of energy, can’t connect with younger people, too stuck in their ways, etc.). It is simply not true. Let’s call it what it is–age discrimination. It’s the stuff that gives human resource people anxiety attacks and attorneys, work. In addition, there is the addiction to magical thinking rooted in desperation in declining churches driving the search for the perfect age preacher for growth. It is an anxiety driven quick fix mentality that sends resumes of experienced ministers to the shredder. It is unfortunate for the church and the minister. Eddie Sharp, long time minister has observed the following through the years.
- Pride hinders. Having a young dynamic minister is better than being embarrassed that we have an older minister.
- Parent-child dynamics. Often, the elders relationship with a younger minister is that of parent-child relationship. Older ministers generally function in an adult-adult relationship and can see the stuff that can and should be addressed peer to peer.
I am blessed to know many young ministers who consistently say, “Could we have lunch? I need to run some things by you.” The irony is an older preacher is listening and guiding a younger preacher in a church that would not hire an older preacher.
5 Things to Consider Before Saying No to an Older Minister:
- Be honest about your motivation and criteria for seeking a younger minister.
- Identify your church needs for maturity rather than reactivity.
- Don’t throw out a resume based on age. Engage in prayer and conversation.
- Do not equate older minister with old sermons, old methods and old ways.
- To what extent does the church staff need an older minister for mentoring and guidance?
Moses was 80 when he was called by God. Enough said.