“It is urgent that denominations, networks and independent churches determine how to best motivate, mobilize, resource and deploy more young pastors,” said David Kinnaman, President of Barna Research, after a 2017 research study revealed the median age of pastors in America to be 55 years old.
Age is not the problem. Many of our Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches are shepherded by great pastors over the age of 50. Age is just one symptom of the problem. Another symptom is the great number of churches without pastors across the SBC. This is happening even in the most traditionally strong states in the Bible Belt. Dr. Jamie Dew of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary recently shared that 10-15% of SBC churches in states surrounding the seminary are without a pastor. That 10-15% statistic holds true even in our beloved Arkansas.
The real problem is we do not have enough young people considering and surrendering to a call to ministry. How are we to plant more churches, send more missionaries, staff our large churches, and pastor our small churches without enough shepherds? We need God to do great work among this generation, and we must also do our part in Calling Out the Called.
These truths have led SBC leaders like the North American Mission Board’s National Next Gen Director Shane Pruitt who has said, “We must renew our commitment to passionately and persistently “calling out the called.”
This is one of the reasons our ABSC ministries and entities are so excellent. Ouachita Baptist University and Williams Baptist University are providing great ministry training opportunities for those who are already committed and called to the ministry. Meanwhile, this school year, 97 students who participate in our 10 Baptist Collegiate Ministries on four-year universities are exploring their own call to ministry and receiving mentorship and training.
We would encourage you to prioritize “calling out the called” in your church. If you need help with training and resources, then you can reach out to ABSC about scheduling a “Explore Your Call” meeting at your church.
This article was written by Tyler Hoffpauir, BCM Campus Minister at Arkansas State University.