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How Preachers Can Ensure Their Children Don’t Hate The Church When They Grow Up

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preacherskidsleavingI know what you’re saying, “You don’t have kids. You don’t know.” You’re right; I don’t have kids, and I don’t know much of anything.

But I’m the son of a preacher. And now I’m a faithful Christian who is in love with the Church.

I know of a lot of PKs (preacher’s kids) who have left the church. So my dad can claim something that many preachers cannot. He has a son who is dedicated to Christ. What did he do right? While I’m not aware of everything he did, I remember these things:

1. He was home for the evenings and had a regular off day. I didn’t grow up disenfranchised with the Church because I felt like my dad had time for me. And his off day was always Friday; I could always count on that.

2. He talked to and spent time with my siblings and me. I think there are a lot of fellow PKs who, deep down, felt like their dads loved the congregation more than he loved them. I can’t relate to that feeling. My dad spent time with me and my siblings. He would talk to us, take us to the park, treat us at a restaurant, wrestle with us, read to us, and watch movies with us. And he built me the coolest model battleships and toy guns out of wood.

3. He guarded me from ugliness in the Church. Don’t get me wrong; the Bride of Christ is “holy and without blemish.” But because the Church is comprised of people, sin is present. Sin is always the root cause of church problems. But growing up, I knew relatively little about problems with the elders, persnickety members, and stress that my dad was dealing with. Now I know these things all too well. But during my impressionable childhood, I saw the Lord’s Church in all of its innocent glory.

4. He wasn’t a hypocrite. Simply put, he lived what he preached. My dad is honorable and blameless. He was (and is) the same dedicated New Testament Christian at all times, regardless of whether he was at home or at church. He exemplified Christ in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. I know that that we are all hypocrites to varying degrees, but I didn’t grow up with a bad taste in my mouth.

I don’t know much, but I know that a preacher needs to love his family more than the responsibilities of his work. And if your family suffers, your work suffers.

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13 Responses to How Preachers Can Ensure Their Children Don’t Hate The Church When They Grow Up

  1. Jonathan Germany May 30, 2013 at 9:56 AM #

    Great article Ben!

    I think this could also easily be Titled “How Adult Christians can Ensure Their Children Don’t Hate the Church When They Grow Up” (being a family man, who talks well of the church and lives a Christian life 24/7-not just on Sundays and Wednesdays).

  2. Tyler Young May 30, 2013 at 11:22 AM #

    Good stuff, brother.

    • Ben May 30, 2013 at 11:24 AM #

      Thanks Tyler & Jonathan!

  3. Robert May 30, 2013 at 1:50 PM #

    Great thoughts brother…as a fellow preacher with kids those are the things I strive for as well.

  4. David Courington May 30, 2013 at 6:18 PM #

    Good thoughts. It is vital the preacher’s child doesn’t take a back seat to every child. Likewise, the preacher’s wife should be his priority before the needs of other church members. Simply put, one puts God first, and God’s word shows we are responsible for our own family before other families.

  5. Stacy L. White May 31, 2013 at 12:09 PM #

    I really appreciate the article. I have a question though, how can we keep our kids shielded from the ugliness in the church when some of it is directed right at them. The problem does not exist now, but it has had a tremendous effect on our son and I feel he has been greatly discouraged no matter how much we encourage him.

    • Adam Richardson June 4, 2013 at 11:48 PM #

      Stacy, that’s a tough question and one I don’t know can be completely answered universally with one or two statements because each person/situation has unique elements. But here is what I would try to do in such a situation…

      If my voice of encouragement doesn’t seem to be getting through (and remember it may well be- I just don’t see the result right now…), I would try to find other voices in the church that can reinforce that message. Maybe people he looks up to in the local congregation, or maybe people in other congregations that he can email or talk with. It may help coming from a different source, but just as much the simple fact of hearing it repeated helps give it validity.

      Also off-setting the negative by pointing out the positive is helpful. I think most all Christians need to be reminded of this from time to time. Philippians 4:8 tells us we can choose what we dwell on- the good or the bad. Both are always around us, but what we feed off of is up to us.

  6. Diane Tucker May 31, 2013 at 4:33 PM #

    You were blessed and you and your siblings are true examples of Prov. 22:16……..both parents trained up their children in the admonition of our Lord in the right way. Such a great article for you to share with others and especially parents today who are now training their children.

  7. Beth Johnson May 31, 2013 at 10:03 PM #

    If fathers *and* mothers both love the Lord and *live that way,* the kids will see their example on a daily basis. The kids have to be included to learn that love. Take them on your Bible studies, maybe take them in turn rather than several together.

    If parents and children think the world is in Technicolor while religion is in black and white, nobody will be happy, and service will be a drudgery.

  8. John Glass May 31, 2013 at 10:33 PM #

    Nice job Ben. He had a huge impact on my life too. I am thankful for him and your whole family. Not sure where I would be without my time with the Giselbachs.

  9. Kristie Winn May 31, 2013 at 11:05 PM #

    Ben, These are great words. My kids have only in the last three years become “preacher’s kids”, but my son plans to be a preacher/youth minister. His dad and I will definitely keep these points in mind for him when he has a family.

  10. Samson Sirla July 27, 2013 at 7:50 AM #

    Thankyou Ben for your invaluable article. I am son of a Church of Christ Preacher and I have some of these experiences and now I am a father, just very tender father – as my son was born on 10 th of July 2013 that is this month. So I want to be the best father I could be to make my son – follow Christ Just I am following Him. These will definitely help me. Thankyou.
    Samson Sirla

    also checkout our congregation here and the Lords work here <>

  11. Baxter Exum November 14, 2013 at 2:36 PM #

    Thanks for the great article! When speaking at other congregations, our kids will often hear me preach a “re-run” sermon. So, in an effort to help them endure the regular trips to gospel meetings and lectureships, one little thing we’ve done in our family is to give our children a “$5 re-run bonus” in their allowance that week (for every sermon they hear me preach more than once). They get a kick out of it, and I hope it helps them endure some of the travels of ministry a little better.

    Also, whenever my dad and grandfather (both elders and preachers) would get together and talk about church stuff in my presence, my grandfather would always pause in the middle of the conversation and remind me, “The church is a perfect organization made up of imperfect people.” To this day, this thought always comes to mind when dealing with difficult situations, and it is something I find myself regularly telling my own children.

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