by Brandon Crawford

About seven miles from my church is a likeminded congregation of about two dozen people. They have been without a pastor for three long years, and there are no good prospects on the horizon. I wish I could say this was an isolated case, but it’s not. The American landscape is blanketed by churches with no pastor.

I tried to help my sister church by placing a call to a trusted seminary. I had hoped to hear about a viable candidate. Unfortunately, the seminary sent me away emptyhanded. It said its ratio of vacant pulpits to available pastoral candidates is about 35 to 1 right now.

As bad as this sounds, the situation is projected to get much worse. According to a Barna Group survey, there are now more pastors over 65 than under 40. More recently, Bruce McAllister surveyed approximately 2,000 fundamental pastors, missionaries, camp directors, and chaplains and found that nearly 40 percent of senior pastors are 60 or older.

Over the next 10 years or so, we could be looking at a real crisis. A significant portion of the rising generation may be forced to grow up without even one pastor in its midst. How did we arrive at this point?

Brandon Crawford (PhD cand., Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Marshall, Mich.