is the dream of most Americans. We work
hard throughout life with the hope that someday we won’t have to work
anymore. We will be able to just relax
and enjoy the remainder of our life without any worries or concerns.
However, for those of us who have been called
by God to the ministry, the word “retirement” should not be in our vocabulary!
We know that Scripture never teaches the concept of retirement. We believe that
when God calls us to serve Him, it is not for a limited period of time; rather,
it is a life long privilege and calling where we serve Him until He calls us
home to glory. When God calls us to serve Him, He also puts in our heart a deep
desire to continually serve Him – to
be “abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58) and that desire is what keeps us in
the ministry, even during difficult times when we feel like quitting.
From a financial
standpoint, most of us in the vocational ministry often can’t afford to truly
retire. The salary that many receive doesn’t allow us to put much away for
future retirement. We don’t have the
kind of retirement or pension plans that are offered by secular employers.
is a pastor to do when he reaches retirement age and feels it’s time for him to
“retire” from the pastoral ministry? How
can a pastor continue to serve the Lord through his retirement years? Is there a ministry that he can be involved
with where he can continue to make an impact in Christ’s kingdom?
the kinds of questions that I struggled with last year as I was completing 35
years in the pastoral ministry. My wife
and I felt it was time for me to retire from the pastoral ministry and to “pass
the baton” onto younger men who have been trained for the ministry. But yet I
didn’t want to “sit on the sidelines” and idly watch others serve.
My heart’s desire was and is to continue to serve the
Lord and make an impact in His kingdom throughout my “retirement” years. (Psalm
71:17-18). Little did we realize the Lord had already started preparing our
hearts for our “retirement” ministry.
THE URGENT NEED
past several years, we had learned that 75% of all Christian believers today live
outside the U.S. in the “majority world”, where the majority of the world’s
population resides – in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Many
refer to this area as the “10/40 Window”.
result of the advancement of the gospel in these parts of the world, many
churches are being established and are growing at an astounding rate! However
there are an insufficient number of pastors who are theologically trained in
God’s Word to shepherd the growing number of believers in these churches!
estimated that there are approximately 5
million pastors outside the U.S. An overwhelming majority of them (85%) have very little to no solid theological
training or have no access to it. This situation has been described as a
able to truly understand this great need when we heard the following statistics:
* Ratio of
theologically trained pastors to people in the U.S.: 1:230
* Ratio of
theologically trained pastors to people outside the U.S.: 1:450,000
wife and I first learned about this immense need, the Lord put in our hearts a
deep desire to help with the training and encouragement of these national
pastors. I wanted to share with them what the Lord has taught me through my
years of training and experience in the ministry.
was still in the pastoral ministry, I was able to participate in a number of short-term
ministry trips to help equip these national pastors and church leaders in
various countries around the world. Through
these trips the Lord truly opened our eyes to this great, pressing need. We learned that the number one need and request from missionaries, churches and
pastors outside the U.S. is for pastoral
and leadership training.
as I was considering retiring from the pastoral ministry, it became very evident
to my wife and me that the Lord was leading us to become involved in this
ministry. As we stepped out in faith in
following His leading, the Lord sovereignly led us to serve with Training
excited and humbled about our new ministry and to see how the Lord will use us through
our retirement years to not only impact the lives of many national pastors and
church leaders around the world, but also the churches that they lead!
– From Pastor to Pastor
encourage those of you who are currently in the pastoral ministry to consider being a part of a short-term ministry team (1-2 week trip) to help in the training of
these national pastors in other countries around the world*. It is a great
opportunity for you, as well as your church, to make an immense impact for Christ
around the world.
Let me encourage
those of you who are veteran pastors, those who may be considering “retiring” from pastoral ministry, NOT to retire from the ministry. As Dr. John Piper
exhorts us in his booklet “Rethinking Retirement”**: Finish life to the glory of Christ!
Utilize the remaining years that the Lord graciously gives
you to continue to serve and to glorify Him.
Pass on what the Lord has taught you to national pastors and church
leaders around the world who are eager to be equipped to teach the Word!
which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to
teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2
*TLI offers a number of short-term ministry opportunities throughout the
year that pastors can participate in. (See “Short-Term Opportunities” ) TLI
is also seeking veteran and retired pastors and missionaries to be
International Trainers either part-time or full-time. (See “Employment”.)
** Download a free pdf of “Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for
the Glory of Christ”