Young Pastors, Why You Need to Talk to Some of Us Older Pastors

If you read this blog regularly, you know I love to work with young pastors. I’ve spent the last 20+ years of my life equipping them. They have energy, passion, and faith that are remarkable. At the same time, many young pastors have written off older leaders because our churches haven’t been as healthy as they should be, or we don’t necessarily agree on every fine point of theology with them.

Young pastors, I challenge you to find an older pastor and have some conversations. I’m not even saying you need to find an older mentor (though I do think we all need older mentors); I’m simply saying, “Take an older pastor to lunch and talk.” Here are some reasons why:

  1. We’ve been where you are. Most of us probably have stories from the past that will amaze you – not because they’re necessarily amazing, but because they’re remarkably similar to things you face today. Believe it or not, church members in our early ministries fought change, too.    
  2. Even if we haven’t gotten it all right, we have learned some things that might help you. We might have even learned them from our mistakes. Give us an opportunity to help you avoid some of the dumb things we’ve done.
  3. You need all the prayer support you can get – and some of us have learned how to pray. We’re hardly experts at prayer (who is?), but we can certainly lift up you and your family to God. The more prayer partners you have, the better.
  4. You might be surprised by how much we understand you. Sure, some of our generation are disconnected from a changing world, but not all of us are.  We understand a lot about your questions regarding church leadership, denominations, missions giving, etc.
  5. We might be more reliable confidants than your peers. We often have more time to talk and listen, and I hope we’re less likely to see ourselves as your “competition” in ministry. Age brings us to a place where we truly do want to invest in the next generation.
  6. We might even pay for a lunch. I know that sounds facetious, but that’s not my intent. We remember when we struggled to pay our bills, and anything other than a sack lunch wasn’t wise. We usually have few more discretionary dollars today, so take the chance that you might get a free meal!
  7. We need and want to learn from you. We really do. The problem is that neither of us talks to the other enough. We talk around each other and against each other – which means all of us sin, and none of us learns. That’s tragic.

Young pastor, give us a call. Send us an email or text.

Older pastor, take the hint within this post: don’t turn down the invitation. And, by the way, buy the lunch! 


  • david mcbryar says:

    The free lunch is a great idea and if I go out to eat with a younger pastor I always just assume I am picking up the check.

    #1 I don’t know if he can really afford it

    #2 I am showing him by example how to treat younger pastors in the future

  • David Boedecker says:

    It may sound self serving but some of us nearing retirement struggle over whether what we have to say or to contribute matters much any more. my young pastor friends have been a true blessing because they value my time, prayers and my open ears, open heart and open door to them. And yes I do buy lunch.

  • Randy Storz says:

    Great points to ponder! Peers are great to have but having an older pastor provides a sense of wisdom and security in their advice and friendship.

  • David Frasure says:

    I learn so much from younger pastors.

  • Cody says:

    This is a good word for my present and future. Thank you Dr. Lawless!

  • Bud and Barbara says:

    As a pastors wife, we have been through some tough and hurtful situations. But, they always made us better servants, once we gave it all to God and realized we could not “make” people behave differently.That is between them and God. We have a ministry here in our home and love to be able to help anyone, even young hurting ministers and wives

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