My wife and I were not PKs (preacher’s kids). My wife was a BK (bus kid). I was an MB (military brat). Yet, at age 17, the Lord called me to be a preacher and at 25 I became a pastor – and, through no fault of their own, our four kids are all PKs.
Recently, I began making a list of what I consider to be some PRACTICAL benefits of growing up in a preacher’s household. I found that it is much easier to list negatives. I suppose that is because of our sinful natures, or perhaps some of us lean naturally towards pessimism. Ask us to list ten negatives about the ministry and we can have it done in 5 minutes, with some bonus answers (this is partly because there ARE negatives, no doubt about it). Ask us to list ten positives, and we really have to think it through.
So, I opened up the question on Twitter and Facebook and got some great answers from preachers, missionaries and PKs. Here’s a list of what we’ve come up for your consideration:
- The opportunity to really get to know some great servants of God. Most people only get to see guest preachers and visiting missionaries in the pulpit and for a moment at the door or display table. The preacher’s family gets to see them up close and personal. In fact, this was the number one answer I heard from several different people. And I can say from experience that the preachers that we have had to dinner or to our home have always been a blessing to our kids. Our kids love them.
- The pastor often has a more flexible schedule than many people. This is not always the case, especially if a pastor is bivocational (been there, done that, couldn’t afford the t-shirt). However, if he is full time he can be flexible if he desires. I can change my day off if needed. I can work early in the morning or late at night and schedule other things for the middle of the day if necessary. I love that we have the freedom to take vacations in the off-season, when the weather is nice and the crowds are limited. I love having a Monday off to go somewhere if we want to.
- The pastor often has a network of friends across the country and around the world. This can make for some interesting vacations or mission trips. Our family has been able to make several long distance vacations that we otherwise could not have afforded because of the hospitality of friends, the availability of pastoral guest houses or mission houses, or even cabin retreats that were either free or deeply discounted for pastors.
- The opportunity to make friends with the children of missionaries and preachers around the world. Our kids have several pen pals in different places that are either missionary kids they’ve met at church or the children of their parents’ friends, serving in different places.
- Unlimited access to the church facilities! Especially if the church has a gym. Or a bus. One day I looked out the window and saw my son in the front seat of one of our buses, with sunglasses on, in an imaginary race. Maybe it was a school bus demolition derby. Hey, how many kids get to play school bus driver in a real school bus?
- Lots of love and a big group of good people in their lives. Yes, sometimes people are hard on the preacher and his family. (I wrote about that in a separate post). We’ve had our problems, and we’ve heard of problems that are far worse than anything we’ve been through. Nevertheless, most of the people in our lives have been loving and positive influences (it helps to focus on them instead of Sister Razor-tongue or Bro. Backstabber). My son got to go on his first quail hunt and deer hunt because of loving people associated with our ministry. My kids have received piano lessons for years because of this community of people. They get extra Christmas presents from some. Sometimes, they are given jobs by people at the church. I can say that our kids have been treated with great kindness and affection.
- Dad gets to decide the church program.
- Unique access to the pastor. Of course, it helps if Dad makes himself available. But the kids get to learn from the pastor like no one else.
- The pride of knowing that God has called your parents into the ministry. I was and am very proud of my parents and the work that they did when I was a kid. I am proud that my Dad was an officer in the Navy and a Viet Nam veteran, and that my mom worked her way up from a fry cook to a supervisor over an entire chain of McDonalds restaurants. The pastor’s or missionary’s kids can be PROUD of the fact that their parents were called of God into HIS SERVICE, and that they have been through the training and done the work necessary to hold these positions. And it doesn’t matter how “big” the ministry is. What matters is that a BIG GOD called their parents and is using them in His work.
- Possible discounts in many Bible colleges for PKs and MKs. Hey, that’s a bonus.
- Opportunities to serve together as a family. We consider our church to be like our family farm; it’s our job together. On the family farm, everyone does something, and in our family, we all serve the Lord in our church. Some ministries are fun, such as serving in the bus ministry together. Others, like cleaning the church, are not as much fun but it’s still done together.
- The opportunity to see many HUGE answers to prayer.
- Little benefits such as the ability to raid the nursery supplies (goldfish, animal crackers, etc), with permission of course. One pastor told me that he and his brothers always enjoyed getting rid of the excess Lord’s supper juice. And occasionally there are some left over donuts (they’re almost as good on Monday), as well as buckets of bubble gum, blowpops, tootsie rolls, and other “children’s ministry” related goods. Which means they are for children in the ministry, right?
- If your children end up going into the ministry themselves, they will have received 18-20 years of on-the-job-training that no Bible college could possible give in four years. As a first generation Christian who never got to serve on a staff before becoming a pastor, I often wish that I could have had the experiences that some of my friends have had (they might disagree). I believe that my own children are far better suited for the ministry than I am because of the privilege of growing up in church – and in a preacher’s home.
None of this means that the life of a PK/MK is a piece of cake. It’s tough. There are a lot of unique problems and things to deal with. And it may be that some do not see all of the benefits listed above in their own situations. Your own situation might have been drastically difficult.
Let me conclude by saying that I do not feel sorry for my own PKs and do not want them to develop a “woe is me” living martyr mentality. There are an infinite number of ways to grow up that are far worse than growing up in the church and in the ministry. However, I am convicted that I personally do not emphasize the benefits more. It can be a great experience if we, as parents, make it so. Sometimes, our children simply reflect our own attitudes about the Lord’s work.
I want to say thank you to everyone online that provided input for this post. You all are a blessing.
Thank you for reading. God bless.