2011 Clergy Age Trends Report Shows More Older and Younger Clergy

September 22, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC—The Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary has released its annual report, "Clergy Age Trends in The United Methodist Church." This year's report, prepared with assistance from the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, shows an increase in the number of both older and younger clergy. Conversely, the percentage of middle age elders has shrunk dramatically over the past decade. Also of note, older clergy between the ages of 55 and 72 constitute the largest share of clergy in history, and the median age of elders remains at a historic high of 55.

Highlights of the 2011 Report
Older Clergy Constitute Largest Share of Clergy in History
  • Elders between ages 55 and 72 comprise 52 percent of all active elders, the highest percentage in history. One year ago, this group reached 50 percent for the first time ever. (It represented only 30 percent of active elders as recently as 2000; previously, its percentage of the total was even lower.)
  • The median age of elders remained at 55 in 2011, the highest in history, reached first in 2010. The median age was 50 in 2000 and 45 in 1973.
The Percentage of Middle Age Elders Continues to Shrink
  • The percentage of elders aged 35 to 54 continues to shrink, from 65 percent of all active elders in 2000 to 43 percent in 2011.
The Number of Young Clergy Continues to Grow, Slowly but Steadily
  • There are more young elders, deacons, and local pastors than 10 years ago.
  • The numbers and percentages of young elders and local pastors grew slightly in 2011. Young deacons declined very slightly, after growing much faster than elders and local pastors for several years.
Full Report Available for Download
Much more information is available in the complete Clergy Age Trends report, which is available as a free download at http://www.churchleadership.com/research/um_clergy_age_trends11.htm?id=ca1.
Of particular interest to many are the average and median ages of elders by Conference. Also, the report features a breakdown by Conference of young, middle age, and older clergy for elders, deacons, and local pastors.
The Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary is pleased to provide this report as a service to the Church.

The Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary seeks to advance the understanding of Christian leadership and promote the effective and faithful practice of Christian leadership in the Church and the world. The center seeks a holistic understanding of leadership that brings together theology and management, scholarship and practice, research and application. It serves as a resource for clergy and lay leaders, congregations and denominational leaders. http://www.churchleadership.com