Please. Get Some Non-Church Friends

hobbiesImagine that you have spent most of your life as a parish pastor/minister/priest.  

Maybe you were loved deeply.  Maybe your personal identity and life’s purpose were based  – mostly – on your role as The Pastor.  Maybe your biological clock is based on the liturgical calendar.  Maybe you were blessed with enough years to retire from your church,  honored and adored.  But now you are retired.

Maybe you have lost your reason to get up in the morning.

Your friends are all in your (former) church.  Your spouse’s friends are all in your (former) church.  Your kids are even (still) in your (former) church.

What’s a retired pastor to do?  It’s hard to make new friends in your 70s.  It’s impossible to make lifelong friends in your 70s.

But it’s not too late to start a new chapter that doesn’t involve your former church.  Please.  For the sake of that congregation.  For the sake of the pastors who will follow you – leave that church behind.

This post is actually for the 20 – 50-something pastors out there.  For your own sanity and emotional health, please find some non-church friends, non-church hobbies, non-church interests.  Do it now before you are so enmeshed in Church World that you can’t have a conversation with someone without saying the words, “In my church . . .”

  • I’m not talking about pastors who paint but all their paintings are hanging on the walls of the church building.
  • I’m not talking about pastors who play golf with guys from the church’s Men’s Group.
  • I’m not talking about pastors who write poetry about Jesus.
  • I’m not talking about pastors who weave paraments for the sanctuary.
  • I’m not talking about pastors who run marathons to raise money for their church mission trip.

I’m talking about painting, golfing, writing, weaving, running just for you.  I’m talking about joining a wine club with no parishioners in it, taking classes that will never work their way into a sermon, having friends who don’t even believe in God – much less belong to your congregation.

If you do this now, you won’t force someone like me to have to meet with you in your 70s to remind you that you are no longer the pastor of your (former) church and you need to find new friends and new interests late in life.

Jesus had really interesting friends who didn’t necessarily hang out in synagogues and the Temple talking about scroll colors and parable ideas.  I’m pretty sure about that.


Mosaic of pastors who do other things too.

4 responses to “Please. Get Some Non-Church Friends

  1. Thank you for having that conversation with that former pastor. There are places where that conversation will never happen, due to the fear of making a 70-year-old feel any level of discomfort. Everybody loses in that scenario.

    And, may I suggest a class at the local community college– a field where one has never studied? I’m meeting the most interesting non-church people this way. Wow, there’s a whole world out there that doesn’t know what a narthex is–and doesn’t care. Yay!


  2. My growing cadre of away from church friends don’t go to church anywhere. We talk about our bicycles, dogs, essential oils, fiber art, yoga….crazy stuff.They’re becoming some of my best friends.


  3. Pingback: Pastors: Help Your Successor Succeed | MaryAnn McKibben Dana

  4. I am 6.6 years away from retirement age – I may work longer, I may not. Already I am imagining what I will do with myself when I leave this behind: train to be a yoga instructor and open a studio where I teach yoga, meditation, and offer spiritual direction. OR, (and?) I want to relearn how to throw pots on a potters wheel, play the piano, and take photographs. Mostly I want to sleep, eat, and be awake on my schedule. And, with any luck, I’ll have some grand-kids too. I may not even go to church.

    But to all those retired folk who have not adjusted – well life is ugly for them, but worse for whatever pastor follows them. It can be tragic.


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