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6 questions when you're called to ministry later in life

Thom Rainer headshot

The call to vocational ministry later in life is both exciting and challenging. It is exciting to know God is preparing you for another path and, perhaps, another place. It’s challenging because of issues related to family, finances, and training.

We often receive questions at Church Answers from those going into vocational ministry for the first time in their 40s and 50s, and even in their 60s. As we try to guide them toward next steps, we ask them a series of questions. These are the six most common questions:

  • Will you stay in your secular vocation for now? The answer to that question obviously has financial implications. But it also allows the minister to be a marketplace pastor, or worship leader, or executive pastor, or any other position.
  • Is your family supportive of your moving in this direction? This question is one that is obviously important at any phase of life or decision-making. It has profound implications when you are older. The change is often dramatic and life-altering for the entire family.
  • How will I train for ministry? Can you work in your current church in an internship or as a volunteer staff person? Will you go to seminary online? Are you and your family willing to relocate?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Are you moving toward a full-time vocational position? Or are you called and content to be a marketplace minister?
  • Where will you find opportunities to preach? This question, of course, is specifically directed toward those who sense God’s call to pastoral and/or preaching ministries. Where can you begin to fill a pulpit? Will it be in those situations where the pastor is out for a week or two? Or can you find an interim or part-time position at a smaller church in the area?
  • Do you have a mentor? This question is extremely important. You need someone to guide you in this new phase of life. You need someone to ask you questions. You need someone to hold you accountable. Is there a pastor you know who would be happy to walk alongside you? If not, we have mentors at Church Answers who will be glad to walk with you in this journey.

It is an exciting time to be called into vocational ministry. It is an especially exciting time when it happens later in life. God has used older leaders and ministers for hundreds of years. He certainly can and will use you.

You have my prayers as you embark on this exciting journey.

Originally posted at

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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