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Thrive Launches Updated Retirement Resource

May 15, 2024

Preparing for retirement from pastoral ministry can evoke all kinds of emotions: excitement, uncertainty, eagerness, and much more. Practical questions are often at the top of one’s mind: Where will I live? What do my finances look like? How is my health? But interpersonal questions also surface: How do I prepare my congregation? What are my hopes or expectations for my family? And, on occasion, deeper questions of identity can emerge: Who am I if not a pastor? What is my purpose? Where do I belong?

Retirement from Pastoral Ministry: Guidance for a Healthy Transition is a newly updated resource from Thrive designed to support pastors (monovocational or multivocational) who are asking these questions and navigating the challenges and opportunities related to retirement.

The guidance in this resource emerged from two projects – the first involving a small group of CRC pastors in West Michigan who met monthly for a year, beginning in 2004, to think together about their upcoming retirements. They observed that there was little guidance for such ministers, so they gathered to share their later-career/approaching-retirement wisdom with one another. They then created a booklet called “Closing Well – Continuing Strong” (published in 2006), built on the key idea that planning for retirement is a process that often brings anxiety and should be engaged intentionally and in community with others.

The second project began in 2019 as the staff of Pastor Church Resources (now part of Thrive) began to think deeply about transitions in pastoral ministry, including the transition from later career into retirement. Over the next four years they worked to gather thoughts and perspectives from pastors across the Christian Reformed denomination who were experiencing this transition. The gathered material was then combined with key wisdom from the 2006 publication to produce a new resource. 

Rev. Dave DenHaan, who compiled and authored this resource as a culmination of the two projects, wrote this about the transition from ministry to retirement: “Vocation, it turns out, is a much larger idea than career is, and it helps you to develop ‘big picture perspective’ that provides grounding and context both for your work and for your retirement.” 

Drawing on some wisdom from Dr. Neal Plantinga for this project, DenHaan added, “In the biblical worldview, a person’s vocation is the general calling from God to be a citizen of his kingdom – his reign and rule in the world – and it includes the specific way that God has called and equipped you for your identity as a citizen.”

The updated resource is outlined as a “roadmap” of sorts for pastors, providing a clear timeline for practical preparation (“Before You Set Out”), insights for logistical, relational, and emotional considerations (“Navigating the Terrain”), and reflections on vocation, rest, and identity after making transitions (“Reaching the Destination.”)

DenHaan notes: “Retirement doesn’t have to be merely an escape and/or a diminishment of yourself. It can be an opportunity for you, a child of God, to pursue your lifelong vocation in new ways, ways that give expression to your giftedness and respond to the needs of a shalom-hungry world.”

Retirement from Pastoral Ministry: Guidance for a Healthy Transition is available digitally and can be found on the Thrive website at