In the spring of 2012, I was asked to write an article for Table Talk Magazine about being a pastor’s kid. I agreed, but with some trepidation. It was personal, after all, and required digging into some history and memories that weren’t all hugs and flowers and puppies and rainbows. To write honestly I needed to tap into some emotional reservoirs buried pretty deep, something I hadn’t done before.
In early March I boarded a plane for a work trip, settled into my seat, and began to write. After just a couple paragraphs I knew the 875-word limit I had been given wasn’t enough. I sat in my seat turned my face toward the window, and cried. I didn’t expect to remember so much and feel so vividly. I was roiling inside with hurt and anger but also a yearning to fix this. Something needed to be said, to be done. It was overwhelming. Writing a simple article felt inadequate, but it opened the lid on something I recognized as much larger, at least for me.
When the issue with the article in it released in July of that year, the response was immediate and strong. PKs reached out to me to express their appreciation for making known their feelings and putting them into words. Pastors responded with thank-yous and apologies as well as questions. I began connecting with PKs from around the country and gettingtheir stories. It didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t just me who felt deeply and remembered much. As many jokes as were thrown around about PKs, nobody was helping them or even listening.
That’s why I wrote The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity (David C. Cook, July, 2014).My story is shared by many. Some from tiny rural churches others from suburban mega churches. Some PKs’ parents were transient and other served in a single town for decades. Some rebelled against the church, others embraced it, and many, like me, have done both. What I found through it all was that a story needed to be told, a challenge laid down, and hope offered. That’s what I attempt to do in this book.
My hope is that PKs will find a community and a voice. Too many of us have suppressed, unexpressed crap in our lives that needs expulsion. But we need more than that. Venting and flushing aren’t enough. We need to understand the depth of God’s grace and the power of it to heal and change. We need to realize our own responsibility to stop blame-shifting and do some things differently. I hope pastors will read this and find a window into the hearts and minds of their kids and see a need for changes. I hope church members will read this and recognize the role they play either for bad (pressuring PKs) or good (befriending and loving them). I have learned to love the church, and I hope my book contributes in some small way to helping it be a place that reflects Jesus more and is marked by God’s grace.