What can a retired pastor do? A brief look at the ministries that a retired pastor can pursue

As a pastor, you have spent your life serving churches and loving people. Now you are trying to decide how to invest your remaining days!! What is it you can do? There are several options.

Interim pastor

One option that is often pursued is to serve as an interim pastor. Interim pastors serve at a church while the church is looking for a “permanent” full time pastor. (In a way, every pastor is an “interim pastor”, as none of us are truly “permanent”… but we digress.)

Interim pastoring opportunities vary greatly. In some cases the interim pastor merely shows up and preaches weekly. In other cases pastoral care work is also expected. In some cases interim pastors are expected to provide leadership to help a church get through the transition to the pastor.

Expectedly, the pay given to interim pastors varies as well. Obviously those from whom less is expected, receive less compensation. In situations where the interim pastor is expected to work full time and give full leadership to a church in transition, the pay is commensurate with normal employment.

How does a person find an interim pastor job? Sometimes they are found by personal networking and word of mouth. Additionally, Denominations often have a list of interim pastors for their churches. If you are a part of a denomination, or if you can “get on the list” of a denomination, that can provide multiple opportunities. There are also some ministries which specifically train and employ pastors in interim positions. One of the best ones I encountered in my research was

At Interim Pastors Ministries, pastors are given training to lead a church during this transitional time. They provide full time pay and of course expect full time work. The interims are expected to stay at a church until a permanent pastor is found. Obviously, this would often involve moving as you serve different churches.

Part-time pastor

Another option that is often overlooked for a retired pastor is to work part time for a church. The vast majority of the churches in America (about 80%) are run by solo pastors. Often time these pastors are in need of help, and the services of a wise and seasoned veteran working alongside would be very valuable. Larger churches will hire such veterans to serve as well.

The exact role and pay expected for such employment will vary from situation to situation. There is one organization that is fairly new, that works to help “retired pastors” find and work with “solo pastors”. It is called Pastor Partner. They work to connect churches with a solo pastor and retired pastors in a way that serves both. Pastor Partner can be found at


Another area of possible employment for a retiring pastor is the chaplaincy. Chaplains serve with a variety of organizations such as hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, businesses, and the military. A quick survey of the web reveals that there are multiple organizations that serve and work to empower and employ chaplains. I am not personally familiar with any of them, but clearly the chaplaincy is a place where opportunities can be found. At the end of this document there are some of the organizations I found that empower, train, and serve chaplains. They are listed in no particular order and I have included many of with their own descriptions from the web.


Another job that some retired pastors move towards is that of being a consultant. There are numerous church consulting agencies that can be found. I have never been hired, nor attempted to be hired by one, but I have worked with a few consultants.

Some of the church consulting agencies have a national reach ( Others seem to have a more regional impact ( If you have contacts in a particular agency, or you have specific training that will make you a valuable addition, or if one is located near you… this may be a good place to look for employment

If you are a real entrepreneur and God opens doors, you may try starting your own consulting ministry. There is even a society formed to help pastors become church consultants, The Society for Church Consultants, (

A few years ago, faced with a flurry of pastors looking to start a church consulting agency, Bill Tenny-Brittian of The Effective Church Group, wrote this article, on 4 paths to becoming a successful church consultant. Read this first!


I have noticed that a number of pastors open up some kind of counseling practice as they move out of the pastorate. They may engage in pastoral counseling, coaching, or spiritual direction. The training and certification required varies from state to state. However, it seems to me that the basic requirement is that a person is gifted enough to help people so that they recommend them to others.

Serve with The Pastors Partner

The Pastors Partner (TPP) is a ministry that serves pastors. TPP believes that pastoring is an important job… they have a huge influence on the spiritual formation and futures of many people. Jesus is the hope of the world, but pastors and their churches lead people to Jesus

However, three things are true about many pastors…

  1. They are overwhelmed with things to do. Pastoring requires a broad range of skills, from preaching , to 1-1 counseling, from to long range planning and short term decision making. Honestly it is overwhelming.

  2. They are often isolated. There are times when even a great staff, supportive church, close fellow pastors, and wonderful family cannot provide the safe space needed to get through a tough situation or to develop in a particular area.

  3. They are burned out from always being the giver! Whether they are giving of their time to people in the congregation, or spending from a meager church ministry account, they often find themselves giving to the point of emotional burnout.

Because pastors are often overwhelmed TPP exists to provide help. Because they are isolated TPP desires to be a safe space, and because they are always giving, we desire to freely give to them.

TPP desires to encourage and empower pastors who have gained experience, such as you, to encourage and empower pastors who are getting experience.

At TPP we will train and encourage you to be a safe place for another pastor, and empower you to freely provide help.

While the ministry of TPP is not able to provide financial reimbursement, we believe that serving with TPP will allow you to uniquely steward the years of ministry you have had.

Partial List of agencies that serve and work with Chaplains that I found on the web

Association of Professional Chaplains –

Health Care Chaplains Ministry Association – they serve Christian chaplains

The National Association of Catholic Chaplainshttps://www.nacc.or

Association of Professional Chaplains

The Association of Professional Chaplains is a multi-faith association established to promote quality chaplaincy care through advocacy, education, professional standards and service to its members. Members, providers of chaplaincy care, are endorsed by their faith groups to serve persons in need in diverse settings throughout the world. ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education ACPE is the premier, Department of Education recognized organization that provides the highest quality CPE programs for spiritual care professionals of any faith and in any setting. We do this through a rigorous accreditation and certification process for centers and educators that provide CPE.

Workplace Chaplain Network | Corporate Chaplains of America

“We put a lot of emphasis on valuing our people… I would absolutely recommend other companies to use Corporate Chaplains of America, it really is a good resource for our people.” ·William Wolfe, Service Center Manager

Home – Association of Certified Christian Chaplains

. ACCC is a chaplaincy community that supports our board certified chaplains. We strive to be the leaders in research, education, and practice of chaplaincy care. Our chaplains serve in many areas including, but not limited to, healthcare, business, the military, corrections, and education

International Association of Christian Chaplains

IACC, International Association of Christian Chaplains, Christian Chaplains, BCC, Chaplains, Protestant Chaplains, Professional Board Certification of Christian Chaplain

Association of Christian Chaplains | Serving with Care …

The Association of Christian Chaplains provides positive services through CARE, COMPASSION, and CONCERN to all Clients through a Team of qualified, dedicated Chaplains in Western Canada.

International Fellowship of Chaplains – Certified Chaplain …

International Fellowship of Chaplains (IFOC) is a non profit organization, providing training, credentialing, ordination, networking, and deployment in the varied areas of chaplaincy. We interface with both the secular and ministry worlds for the purpose of promoting tolerance and understanding, as well as, provide professional, trained and .

National Certified Chaplains Association – Home

The “National Certified Chaplains Association” (NCCA) is a professional support organization for honest, mature adults who are interested in encouraging the discouraged, ministering to the sick, bereaved, downtrodden, crime victims, disaster victims, law enforcement officers, EMS workers, military personnel, those confined to nursing homes or other

Why should I work with pastors? A challenge to retired pastors to get back in the lions den and invest their retirement years in pastors who are still getting experience.

“I am retired from being a pastor, why would I want to get involved with pastors?”

Afterall, there are a lot of ministry opportunities that an ex-pastor can get involved in.

You can become a volunteer in a local church, perhaps becoming the kind of dedicated volunteer that, when you were a pastor, you had always wanted to find!

You can serve in one of many great nonprofits. All of us have passions and interests that we have never been able to fully get involved in….abortion…sex slavery…racial relations…persecuted Christians…unreached people groups…etc. I think it is a sign of spiritual life if we feel pulled towards one of these causes.

You can determine to love your neighbors. Perhaps ministry has keep you “in the church” and you now relish the opportunity to focus on the “lost”.

You can write. Many of us as pastors feel the need to “write a book”. We have spent much of our lives articulating significant ideas, it only makes sense that we would want to put them in a book!

There are a lot of places where you can use the skills, insights, and passions you have developed as a pastor. So, why should I give myself to those who are still pastoring?

There are a lot or reasons not to!!

Honestly there are some pretty good reasons to avoid connecting with pastors.

I have discovered that I am still dealing with the emotional baggage of having been a pastor. Every pastor has to deal with rejection, failure, conflict and unfulfilled dreams. Even when we stop being a pastor, the emotional baggage remains. This baggage can make us want to run as far away as we can from pastors.

Another reason to avoid helping pastors is the reality that ministry is changing, and I am not sure that I have a lot of answers. What if I give bad advice? What if I don’t know what to say?

One additional reason to avoid helping pastors is that… how do I say it…a lot of pastors don’t seem like they want help. In fact, if you decide to help pastors, you may very well have to face the same rejection and failure issues that you did while in the ministry.

One final reason. Connecting with pastors is hard. It takes some skill. It may require the development of some new skills.

Then why should I help pastors?

In light of the above reasons, why should I spend the ministry time I have left helping pastors? Great question. My answer in a word…… is Stewardship.

Jesus told two parables that communicated the importance of stewardship. You well know the parable of the 10 minas in Luke 19, and its sister parable in Matthew 25. In each case a master gives his servants some money, leaves town, the servants invest the money, and the master returns to see how well they have invested his money. It is easy to see that Jesus is the master, Christians are the servants, the money refers to our lives, and that one day Jesus will return and reward us for how we have lived our lives.

Perhaps you like me, have often been motivated by the words that the master speaks to the faithful servant, found both in Matthew and Luke…

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matthew 25:21 (NIV)

Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ Luke 19:17 (NIV)

We desire to be called a “good servant”. We long to hear “Well done…” But this does not happen automatically. It involves wise choices.

While the two teachings are very similar, there is one difference between them that is helpful for us to see. In Luke each servant is given 10 minas. It is easy to see that these minas represent the fact that each of us is given a life, a differing but certain number of days, gifts, opportunities and relationships. Each of us will be “judged” as a steward on how we deal with the life we are given. In this way we are all the same.

But in Matthew each servant is given something different. As Matthew tells it…To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. Matthew 25:15 (NIV)

While Luke emphasizes that we all responsible in a way that is similar, Matthew points out that each of us is to steward the specific days, gifts, opportunities and relationships we have been given. In this way we are all different. In fact Matthew adds that each person is a steward of what they have been given, as it was given to each “according to his ability.” Wow!!

You have been given the gifts and opportunities to be a pastor. Whether you pastored a large church or a small one, you know what it is like to be in the ministry. You are accustomed to preaching, teaching, counseling, board meetings, and ministry planning. You know what it is like to have your plans interrupted by the chaos created by a person who barely comes to your church. You know what it is like to be betrayed by an insider. You have been there. Pastoring is in the “bag of gold” that Jesus has given you.

Why get involved with pastors? Because you want to be a steward of the experience you have had. Because you want to hear “well done” when you stand before Jesus. Because you want to fully experience all that he has for you on this earth, and fully enjoy him in the days to come!!

You experience as a pastor is a rare opportunity and a unique experience given to you because of your abilities and giftedness. Likewise this experience enables you to partner with current pastors in a way that others cannot!! It enables you to serve the master in a way that multiplies and brings good from even the darkest of the pastoral moments you have had. Taking the experience you gained as a pastor and partnering with those who are gaining experience, is being a good steward of the life we have been given, so that we may one day hear “well done”!!