Support the Café

Search our Site

Boomers veer from career path to pursue ministry

Boomers veer from career path to pursue ministry

As someone who was blessed with an opportunity to switch careers in my 50s to devote myself to fulltime church work, I found this piece in the Wall Street Journal interesting:

After decades of pursuing money, titles and ever more stuff, baby boomers are coming to a big realization: Success and security just aren’t enough anymore. They want something more fulfilling out of life, something that feeds their spiritual side and connects them to a bigger purpose.

For many, the answer is embracing faith—and devoting their lives to serving others.

Flocks of people in their 50s and 60s are putting aside thoughts of a comfortable retirement and heading to theological school, where they’ve become the fastest-growing age group in recent years. They’re putting in years of study and field work to become chaplains, spiritual counselors, missionaries, and educators and social workers for nonprofits with religious ties.

Read full story here. Ministry, of course, is not limited to ordained clergy. I have many friends who were downsized into early retirement and are now doing amazing and fulfilling non-profit work, some for pay, some as volunteers. Others opted off the career path at the height of success to become spiritual directors, missionaries or mentors to young people or ex-offenders. And I often meet people who are working hard to figure out how they can take such a leap of faith. If you’ve made such a move, please share how it’s working for you, and how you make it work.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chris H.

Perhaps not very ironic. Several polls/statistics have shown that churches with younger members have younger clergy. People want someone in the pulpit like them, so perhaps the Methodists have decided to actively try to renew their churches with younger leaders.

Chris Harwood

BrotherTom Hudson

How ironic that the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is considering discouraging older applicants. See:

Here’s the important part:

“[The proposed policy] encourages candidates seeking credentials as:

· An elder over 45 “to pursue licensed ministry, certified or other expressions of lay ministry”

· A deacon over 45 “to pursue other expressions of ministry”

· A licensed local pastor over 60 “to pursue certified lay ministry or other expressions of lay ministry”

· A certified lay minister over 70 “to pursue other expressions of lay ministry.”


I don’t believe that this is a new phenomenon, but I am glad to see these stories. I, too, was a second (third?) career seminarian who began ordained ministry in my early 50s when I felt called to that vocation and realized that my children were nearly grown and I had lots of life left that I didn’t want to spend in any other way. Then, yet another step was to become “transplanted” as an Episcopal priest! I do believe that many of us hear that call when we have been directly involved in “hands-on” mission where we walk with those from very different cultures and life circumstances. A shift in perspective like that seems to open the doors and the windows of our lives to the movement of the Spirit. Thanks be to God!

Gloria Hopewell [added by Ed.]

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café