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The Congregational Consulting Group, organized in 2014 by former consultants of the Alban Institute, is a network of independent consultants. We publish PERSPECTIVES for Congregational Leaders—thoughts on topics of interest to leaders of congregations and other purpose-driven organizations. —  Dan Hotchkiss, editor

Knowing When to Let Go

Kyle Hinkson on Unsplash

Six months ago, I announced my intention to retire at the end of this academic year. I’ve worked at the same university for 20 years—as a professor, a department chair, and a dean. But it’s time to step aside and let others move into these roles. How do we know when it’s time to let go and retire? For me, there were three key indicators:

  • When I realized that I was running out of fresh ideas.
  • When I noticed how much talent there was around me.
  • When I accepted that I could afford to do so.

I don’t intend to retire completely—I plan to submit a book manuscript by December (on congregations engaging their communities), do more consulting, and spend more time with grandchildren. But it’s time. As the Swiss-German poet Hermann Hesse noted, “Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”

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Will They Never Retire?

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“Will they never retire?” is a question I hear a lot from younger clergy these days who wonder when my generation (the Baby Boomers) will retire. The Center for Retirement Research reports that 40% of men are still working at age 65 today, double the rate of 20% from a decade ago. Gallup recently released data showing that the average retirement age is now five years older than in the early 1990s. Similar trends are happening with women.

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