Church / Guest Post / PKs / July 8, 2014

5 Reasons Pastors Kids are Leaving the Church – Guest Post by Emily Wierenga

 

Emily and Solange

I  stopped speaking at one and a half years old.

I stopped speaking when I moved with my missionary parents from Canada to Nigeria. I just stood by a fence staring across the wire at my beautiful neighbors, at the way their laughter sprung from their faces like exclamation marks.

I learned how to listen. I listened to the stories which swung from the hips of the African women as they danced, and poured from their lips in rich spirituals.

But I also heard Mum crying. Because she didn’t want to be there. She didn’t want to be a missionary’s wife.

Because she knew what I didn’t.

She knew that being in ministry meant living in a glass house.

And when that glass breaks for all the pressure, it cuts everyone who lives inside.

We moved back to Canada and Dad went to seminary by day and worked at skim milk factory by night and soon I had three brothers and sisters. We moved 10 times before I turned seven and I didn’t know my cousins or grandparents or have any friends.

Dad was gone all the time visiting this person or that and we were home-schooled and taught to say Please and Thank You and we weren’t allowed to miss a Sunday at church. Once I said “friggen” because I saw it spray-painted on a wall and Mum washed my mouth out with Ivory soap.

The glass house cracks for all the pressure and the kids, they take pieces of that glass and they start to cut, or they get eating disorders, or they just inwardly turn numb and refuse the faith because it’s not a story they’re a part of; it’s not a relationship. It’s a bunch of rules to keep the family looking perfect.

And the pastor’s wives have to keep silent and smiling. When my Mum’s mum committed suicide (and Mum found her), Mum wasn’t offered therapy or anything. Just told to keep packing up the house because they were moving to the next parsonage. A little while later they discovered a tumor on Mum’s brain.

And the pastors feel they can’t depend on anyone because that would be letting everyone down. When my Mum got brain cancer, Dad spent months trying to juggle everything—bathing her, clothing her, cooking for her, while still preaching and visiting–and when ladies in the church asked if everything was okay (because they could see it was not) he said it was. Because as a pastor, it was more acceptable to lie than to need someone.

And so Jesus can’t reach anyone because we won’t let him. We won’t admit we need Someone to save us.

Church becomes this place of pretend saints, while the sinners party with Jesus in the streets.

And this, why pastor’s kids are leaving the church in hordes:

  1. PKs’ fathers put ministry before family. They forget, or ignore, 1 Timothy 3:5, “(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)” Meetings every night, phone calls during supper, long hours planning sermon and helping outside of the home create an inner resentment within children and wives who feel overlooked and neglected.
  2. PKs’ houses are made of glass. There’s no place to get naked, there’s nowhere to be needy and vulnerable and transparent and broken enough to need Jesus. It’s a break-free zone and that puts a lot of pressure on sinful people.
  3. The Bible is not explained through the lens of Jesus’ sacrifice, but rather, through the lens of right and wrong behavior. PKs aren’t given a chance to experience God’s grace and mercy; they’re just forced to memorize the concepts.
  4. Work and home life are not separate, so when a PK’s father is at home, he’s often working in his office. In spite of preaching the Sabbath, there is no space for rest, and this creates a deep weariness within the bones of every family member.
  5. PKs are witnesses to the underbelly of the church, so they see, firsthand, the hypocrisy of the people who claim to be God’s hands and feet. They hear the cries of their mom at night because women don’t want to befriend the pastor’s wife; they see their father asleep on the couch because he got in late from another pastoral visit and they hear the parishioners talking about their family in the parking lot.

But there’s hope.

There’s always hope with Jesus.

After years of running from the church; after years of traveling the globe in search of faith, I found it back at the bedside of my Mum as she lay dying from cancer; I found it in a father who finally broke in front of his church, I found it in a congregation that came alongside us and held us up even as we fell.

There’s no secret sermon.

There’s no fancy worship show that will attract our kids back to any kind of building with a cross on it.

No, there’s only the age-old story I heard on the lips of the African women, in the sway of their hips.

The story of an Abba Father desperately in love with his people who wants to meet us in the very brokenness of our lives, who wants to pour his light and love through the cracked glass of our hearts.

I attend church regularly, now. I love the church, I ache for her, and I ache for her pastors. Because I know. I know our potential, and our pain, and I long for us to join the party with Jesus and the sinners in the streets.

Church? Let’s make way for the broken. Let’s make way for our children. Let’s make way for God.

 

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My memoir, ATLAS GIRL, is releasing this month, and I am excited to partner with Barnabas to give away THREE copies today. Just leave a comment below for a chance to win! Winners will be selected on 7/10 and contacted via email.

 




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85 Comments

Jul 08, 2014

Thank you for sharing your story, Emily. I hope to read more of it. While I am not a PK or MK myself, as a parent we all struggle with the desire to “look right” in front of our brothers and sisters in the faith. This excerpt is a sobering reminder that living a life of faith together means bearing our brokenness before one another and the Healer of us all.


    Jul 09, 2014

    “bearing our brokenness before one another.” YES. love this friend. thank you, e.


Jul 08, 2014

Yours is a beautiful story of redemption in relationships, often the most important and overlooked – Family! I am inspired by your blog and hope many PK’s are able to read your story and find hope, healing and restoration.


    Jul 09, 2014

    Thank you so much Lulu! Bless you. e.


Jul 08, 2014

That’s an amazing story… I’m a PK and though it hasn’t been nearly as much of a burden for me as it has for some I understand what you’ve said. When I was in elementary school I thought my dad loved the kids at church more than he loved my siblings and me. Thanks for sharing, and for giving me hope for the church.


    Jul 09, 2014

    love hearing your story Elise, and grateful for how God leads all of us into his embrace… e.


Jul 08, 2014

My twins would enjoy this book as they have experience being PKs. Thanks for sharing your story.


    Jul 09, 2014

    I’m grateful it can speak to them Ron! Bless you. e.


Jul 08, 2014

I love your writing style and appreciate your honesty. Looking forward to reading your book.


    Jul 09, 2014

    Thanks so much Susan! That means a lot! e.


Jul 08, 2014

So beautifully written. Strong thoughts, you are a gifted communicator. I sometimes wonder how much damage I have placed into my own children by the doubleness we have lived… Grave disfunction at home, all spiffied up by the time we get to the meeting house…


    Jul 09, 2014

    oh Kirk, I think we all make mistakes as parents… the key is to apologize and ask them to forgive you 🙂 Love your heart! Bless you, e.


Jul 08, 2014

I never could understand the justification by pastors that their ministry was more important than their family. One of my favorite pastors preaches that the wife and children must come first for if you have lost your children’s souls, it is all for naught.


    Jul 09, 2014

    Amen, Lori.


Jul 08, 2014

Barnabas, I am a 3rd year seminary student in Sydney (Australia) rounding off my BTh, with plans to enter into Baptist ministry. Having married a Korean and with 2 kids under the age of 7, I am entering into ministry with some trepidation because I really do not want to neglect my family as I heed God’s calling. Although my own earthly father is not a pastor, his long hours as a ‘successful’ businessman in the past kept him away from me physically, emotionally, and spiritually and I really don’t want to repeat that cycle as I become a pastor.

Thanks SO much for writing your blog because it means a lot, to give an insight into the PK world and to navigate how I can avoid the pitfalls of being an over-committed pastor. Yes, I admit it: I’m a huge fan of your dad. But I appreciate you for who you are and what you’re bringing to the public discussion on ministry. Keep it up.


Jul 08, 2014

Beautifully written! I look forward to reading more of your story in your new book. Thank you for sharing with such honesty and transparency!


    Jul 09, 2014

    Thank you so much Rebekah! Bless you. e.


Jul 08, 2014

This article brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for the raw honesty. I think it is very much needed.


Jul 08, 2014

I am commenting but not because I wish to receive a free book. I’m commenting to tell you that I was very much moved by this blog post. It is somewhat of a stark contrast to Barnabas’ book which brings a balance to the subject of PKs. I’ve always wondered what life must be like for children of missionaries and pastors who move a lot. Very heartbreaking to hear of the pain ministry has caused you and your family. Thank you so much for sharing!


Jul 08, 2014

I find myself doing the things your father did. I needed this.


    Jul 09, 2014

    Grace to you, Josh… my father and I are very close now. God is the king of redemption. Bless you.


Jul 08, 2014

Wow. This really hit home … “PKs aren’t given a chance to experience God’s grace and mercy; they’re just forced to memorize the concepts.” Thanks for sharing. Thanks for being real with us!


Jul 08, 2014

Very powerful! I have seen this several times. Sad but true!!!!


Jul 08, 2014

Thank you for this post. Reading it, I could feel the rhythm and sway of those women dancing the story of love. As a PK I know this heart break, the struggle of your parent blending work and home, the tragic words of the inner guts of the church spilled out each evening at the dinner table in casual conversation and more heart breaking the inability to release the pressure because everyone is watching you.

I too have come full circle and have a depth of love for the bride of Christ that is inexhaustible, a depth in my relationship with Jesus that is only explained by having finally experienced his grace and love. I am continuously thankful that Jesus held tight to me even when I didn’t hold tight to Him during my rebellious years of experiencing the world. Thank you for sharing your life and beautiful words to encourage us all.


    Jul 09, 2014

    Wow Paul, what an incredible response. It felt like you were sitting across from me listening to me, and truly hearing. I’m so grateful for your caring heart! e.


Jul 08, 2014

Thank you for words of truth.


Jul 08, 2014

[…] delighted to be over at Barnabas Piper’s blog today–son of the well-known John Piper, who is also releasing a book this month! Visit the […]


Jul 08, 2014

Growing up, on more than one occasion I remember coming in from playing outside and seeing my mom bent over the sink sobbing. It’s the worst feeling in the world: trying to comfort a parent who is in need of so much more than that. I’d run across the street to the church and get my dad because that’s all I knew to do. I couldn’t help but think of those times when I read this sentence: “There’s no place to get naked, there’s nowhere to be needy and vulnerable and transparent and broken enough to need Jesus. It’s a break-free zone and that puts a lot of pressure on sinful people.” I’m just now (in my 30’s) learning, forcing myself really, to be needy and vulnerable and transparent and broken enough…with Jesus and his church. Thanks Barnabas and Emily, for speaking up and helping us repressed PK’s make sense of life experiences and figure out where to go from here.


    Jul 09, 2014

    oh Becky. how I ache for your mother and for you… how I long for the church to be free. Bless you sister. e.


Jul 08, 2014

Emily…Wow! The road was long and like many others did not even know the inner pain that your family endured. But I will be forever grateful for the time our paths crossed, you all have the strength that carried you to this point. For every season there is a time. Thanking your family for your time here. What a true blessing.


    Jul 09, 2014

    Kim, thank you friend… yes, the long road home… God with us, every step of the way. Bless you! e.


Jul 08, 2014

Thank you for shedding light and truth in such a beautiful way. You’re words are always filled with such grace, Em.


Jul 08, 2014

This really hit home for this DK (deacon’s kid). Thank you for sharing!


Jul 08, 2014

“The story of an Abba Father desperately in love with his people who wants to meet us in the very brokenness of our lives, who wants to pour his light and love through the cracked glass of our hearts.”

This.

Thank you for sharing.


    Jul 10, 2014

    I’m so glad it resonated, Rhoda. Bless you! e.


Jul 08, 2014

Thank you for your transparency! I hope this is read by many that need to read it and the ability to make churches better places for pastors and their families!


    Jul 10, 2014

    Thank you Karla!


Jul 08, 2014

My heart weeps that this was your experience.
I know what you’re saying here.
The constant being on show. The lack of proper family time. The absent father.
I’m not a PK I’m an OK. A Salvation Army officer’s kid.
Both my parents shared ministry.
Better or worse? You decide.
Worse than that, I now share ministry with my husband.
And we have 3 OK’s of our own.
Now 20, 17 and 12.

We tried to learn from my experience.
My Mum & Dad kept reminding us not to make the mistakes they had.
We prioritize family time.
We unplug the phone.
We never want our kids to be able to say we were there for everyone else but not them.
We have learnt that letting your congregation know you need their support can be liberating for them and us.

Having said that we still have made lots of mistakes.
But I’m hoping this generation of OK’s & PK’s are growing up in a very different environment from the one you knew and we did.

Thank you for writing.
Need to go. My sons are fighting!
Much love
Karen


    Jul 10, 2014

    LOVE your honesty here Karen and the way that you demonstrate how we can learn from, and build upon, the past, and work together to create a more hopeful future! It is the ministry of reconciliation, and it’s beautiful. Bless you, e.


Jul 08, 2014

Emily,

I heard you speak at the HFH2014 conference in Franklin, TN. Your words were poetic, yet powerful. I believe your message for the church is a timely one. We will only be as strong as we are willing to be weak. In creating a safe place for each of us to expose our wounds, we not only break through the counterfeit that keeps us stuck both individually and corporately, but we cultivate something that is deeply authentic and beautiful. Thank you for your gift of words as well as your insights!

Lisa Murray


    Jul 10, 2014

    Lisa, so great to find you here friend! And thank you for your encouragement. I love how you put it: “We will only be as strong as we are willing to be weak.” Bless you sister. XO


Jul 08, 2014

oh… thank you for this. i am not a PK, and i had no idea. completely oblivious. and now – surprise!- i am married to a pastor, and we have 2 young daughters. as they grow up in the church, i want so much to show them the REAL purpose of the church. this is our family as we are far from our blood relations. this is our place to make mistakes & grow up & receive forgiveness & experience grace. this is our community, where we see sin & messiness and choose to offer love & mercy instead of judgment & exclusion. this is MY place to be a mama & wife, not to make my kids act a certain way in the name of our ‘role’ in the church. thank you thank you!


    Jul 10, 2014

    LOVE your heart Rachel! Love it.


Jul 08, 2014

I can relate to almost every portion of this. My father was not a “pastor” for very long but the expectations of being good have severely hindered my siblings and I in our spiritual walk. At times, I still feel like I am slowly breaking free from the “Performance Gospel”. God’s Grace is breaking through. Sometimes crashing in by overwhelming waves, sometimes just the little trickle of a stream, but always it is there to remind me that in Him, I am free. Thanks for this post! Sincerely, Wesley Rees


    Jul 10, 2014

    SO grateful it spoke to you Wesley! Love the victory in your voice brother. e.


Jul 08, 2014

I’m a PK. Beautifully written, painfully accurate. I hope, like you, to find life love and faith again.


    Jul 10, 2014

    I believe you will friend. Praying for you Rose. e.


Jul 08, 2014

This blog brought tears to my eyes. As a MK I have struggled my entire life with an absent father who will be in town for maybe 4 months out of the year because his ministry is based out of India. Whenever he was in town he was constantly in his office doing ministry work or travelling around the US and preaching in churches or going to local churches and houses for meetings. It was sad because their will be years where I may have only spoken a sentence to my father. My family is in the background while my dad is travelling and everyone treats him like royalty and praise him and jump for joy when he walks into a room. Its amazing to see but yet we don’t get that same attention. He may bring us gifts when he travels but material things don’t cut it. I have 3 older brothers and they feel the same way that we didn’t really have a father growing up and my 2 oldest brothers acted like our father. I see the tears my mom sheds for us and it hurts my heart terribly and as I write this the tears start to trickle down even more. I told myself I would never marry someone in the ministry or an extremist of a Christian because I don’t want that life I had for my children or for myself. I couldn’t imagine having an absent husband or father for my children or someone who was preaching down other peoples throats all the time instead of showing love and compassion.

I have had many struggles in my life and to know that I was supposed to hide my flaws and my sins and my condemnation for the greater good of his kingdom has ultimately destroyed me. I lived a double life. Even have 2 Facebooks. One for family and one for friends and acquaintances. Its as if I could not be me and share who I really was because what I wanted to be seemed to be wrong and far from the truth in their minds but to me I saw nothing wrong with wearing a pretty dress that showed some skin and hanging out with friends when it wasn’t a bible study. My faith has become almost non existent and I question the church as a whole now. I have been told my entire life to put God first and then family comes second… But when will the family coming second start to take place… I hope to one day write my story and share with others as well that it is not a battle we are fighting alone… Prayer life is great and all but if their is no action behind it and you are not trying to make an active change in the community by helping others instead of condemning them every step of the way then what is the purpose of being a Christian. I’m not going to hide behind a mask. I am who I am and God knows me better than anyone else and I will leave it to him to judge my actions, not my family or anyone else.


    Jul 10, 2014

    oh Justina. This breaks my heart. Oh girl. I’m spending time praying for you sister, and asking our Abba Father to show you the way he’s never left your side, and how he sings over you and delights in you and quiets you with his love. He always has time for us, friend, even when our own Dads don’t. Praying healing and hope for your weary soul… e.


Jul 08, 2014

[…] 5 Reasons Pastors Kids are Leaving the Church – Guest Post by Emily Wierenga […]


Jul 08, 2014

Tough stuff. Thanks for this piece, Emily. I’m not a pastor’s daughter but grew up in a church where I saw many of the things you speak of sewn into the culture– it wasn’t until I was 21 that I began to understand the relationship piece you speak of which was in such contrast to what had felt like a myopic, life-depleting rules focus in my childhood church. Look forward to reading your book!


Jul 08, 2014

Oh, Emily, how your words always seem to touch my heart! I was not a PK but remember well how as a child I quickly learned to play the part of “the good Christian family”. For a long time I thought I had a relationship with Jesus but later realized that I was just playing the part. So thankful for Jesus meeting me in my brokenness. I pray fervently that I model for my children authentic faith despite my inadequacies and a Jesus that loves each of us anyway!


    Jul 10, 2014

    Laurie, I love your heart and I know that as long as we try, God will honor our efforts… keep trying and seeking Him sister. Bless you, e.


Jul 08, 2014

Wow! Your honesty in the struggle of growing up a MK and Mr. Piper’s on being a Pk is going to help many. My brother, sister and I were just talking about writing a book of all we have learned about God’s grace as preacher’s kids. I think we will read your books first! It is so needed. . . to share the struggles but also the Truth of healing and hope that comes from that relationship with Jesus. I am the only one actively involved in a church. They were so very hurt! The Lord pulled me over one day when I had shared some truth with my Dad and he reacted badly, my sis and bro were both out . . .now are in recovery–so thankful!–anyway I asked God what was the use of me not knowing about my dad’s affair when I was nine until I was 19??? He said so clearly in my mind, I have made you a remnant, you will lead the way for your siblings to return to me. I certainly have had my own struggles but I am blessed to have never confused my dad with Jesus, it’s what got him into sooo much trouble. (Messiah complex) So, thank you for sharing your story and thank Mr. Piper too. I was told by a friend the other day that when I shared my story with another friend she saw her just take a deep breath of peace and hope that if God could reach me . . . He could reach anyone! I am post-abortive and have led many healing Bible studies with many, many pastor’s daughter’s in the rooms. Be encouraged that He will use your story for His healing purpose in others. . . . sounds like He already is! Go God Go!! Blessings to you.


    Jul 10, 2014

    wow Chris, what a story! God is using you too, brother! aching for the rest of your family and praying God brings healing and wholeness. Bless you, e.


Jul 08, 2014

Thank you for sharing, I look forward to reading your book.


Jul 08, 2014

What an amazing story. Thank you for taking the time to share it, and I look forward to reading your book!


Jul 08, 2014

The book Letters Never Sent: One Woman’s Journey from Hurt to Wholeness [Ruth E. Van Reken] changed my life when I first read it, and the impact still has a rippling effect more than 2 decades later… I would imagine a contemporary memoir of your own journey would resonant with many many today…..MKs, PKs, or others born into similar contexts marked with religious expectations and structures. Looking forward to it.


    Jul 10, 2014

    That sounds like an amazing book, Michael, thank you for telling me about it!


Jul 08, 2014

Love your story. I look forward to reading it whether I win a copy or not 😉 I’ll have toget a copy after I finish reading Barnabus Piper’s book! Thank you for sharing!


Jul 08, 2014

Emily, I so look forward to your book. So many of us know the glass house too well. Blessings to you and all in ministry- fighting the good fight as hard as that an be.


Jul 08, 2014

Wow, just wow. No way to express the timeliness.


Jul 08, 2014

Wow. Thank you for sharing. I hope to read your book soon!


Jul 09, 2014

beautiful. you and barnabas both have important stories to tell. thank you for taking the time to do it!


Jul 09, 2014

I remember it was the hypocrisy in the church that got me the most. My dad has always been a pastor and when I was uprooted from my hometown in Connecticut and relocated to California it rocked my world. But that’s not what hurt the most. Moving from a small, loving church to a larger, more “clique” oriented congregation was incredibly difficult. You were right on point by saying that the underbelly of the church pushes people out. I hated God and I hated His churches because of the actions of some people. I ran away from Him for almost 10 years before getting right with Him. Thank you for telling your story.


Jul 09, 2014

It is for freedom that Christ set us free. What a joy to actually live in it. Thank you for sharing your journey toward it.


Jul 09, 2014

[…] 5 Reasons Pastors Kids are Leaving the Church  by Emily T. Wierenga: Yet again, a great read by Emily as she guest posts on the blog of Barnabas Piper {son of John Piper}. She invites us to look inside at how, “The glass house cracks for all the pressure and the kids, they take pieces of that glass and they start to cut, or they get eating disorders, or they just inwardly turn numb and refuse the faith because it’s not a story they’re a part of; it’s not a relationship. It’s a bunch of rules to keep the family looking perfect.” […]


Jul 09, 2014

I think there’s a lot of truth here as well as some hyperbole. I think blanket statements are used to make a poetic point, and I get that. Juxtaposing the suicide with a brain tumour suggests a causal link that you may believe is there, but I’m not sure there’s much scientific backing to actually suggest that traumatic experiences cause brain tumours, but I could be wrong.

I am more interested in the Eccesiology and theology that lead to systems where pastors and their families find themselves in this situation. I do think it’s getting better for pastor’s families, but potentially because we have fewer expectations for people in general not because we have a more holistic view of the church and each of us is responsible to one another.

Pastors can certainly do a lot to choose how their families will be viewed within a congregation and work/life balance, but it can be extremely difficult to do so if there is a common understanding in the church that it is the pastor’s role to be available 24/7, or that the pastor and his family need to be paragons of virtue in the community and the pastor’s wife is to play a role (for no pay) that is almost as demanding as the pastor’s.

In the end, I think a lot of this comes down to each of us being unwilling to take responsibility for our own spiritual journey to the extent that we are called to. Instead we look to professional ‘holy men’ to bear silently our burdens, and we find some sort of biblical justification in doing so. Peter Rollins speaks to the effect this can have on pastors’ ‘inability to doubt’ because of the expectations of the community and so the inauthentic faith that we expect of our pastors (because can it be genuine faith without the freedom to doubt?).


    Jul 10, 2014

    Hello brother! 🙂 I agree–we have to help pastors and their families, not just blame them. That last paragraph really spoke to me…. and yes, we often use hyperbole to make a point, or perhaps it’s just emotion 🙂 As always, I respect and admire your opinion dear Keith! Love you, e.


Jul 09, 2014

Thanks for your honesty Emily. I just read your blog for the first time last week & can identify with some of your struggles…I also struggled with an eating disorder as a teenager. I would love a chance to win a copy of your book! God Bless.


    Jul 10, 2014

    so great to meet you Tina! bless you sister… e.


Jul 09, 2014

Thank you for this. I was a PK for two years although I never experienced the “glass house” phenomenon. I so appreciate your honesty. If the pastors and their families are able to exemplify vulnerability, I think the church would be so strengthened.


Jul 09, 2014

I AM NOT A PK BUT MY DAD WORKED ALL THE TIME BECAUSE HE HAD TO TO SUPPORT US.


Jul 10, 2014

Thank you for sharing. My heart aches for all of our children. With the reality of so many of them just turning their back and walking away from their faith and their church. May the Holy Spirit help us begin to fix what has been broken.


Jul 10, 2014

Regardless of whether or not I win a copy of your book, I look forward to getting a chance to read it! Blessings! 🙂


Jul 10, 2014

Not a PK, but found this beautiful. It always seemed like such a burden to tend to two flocks (the family, the church), but you’re right…in our weakness He is strong.

Again, beautiful.


Jul 11, 2014

Wow! I can identify with this so well! Thankfully, I saw the church come together as the body and bride of Christ as a child. It was painful, but when my mother passed away and left my pastor/father with four of us, ages 9 and under, our church did rally around us and show us the love and care we desperately needed at that time. That was the worst time! But, I got to see who God is first hand, and how He cares for His children. And I got to see how the church is supposed to work–what we look like when we do what we’ve been called to do, and when we are what God made us to be. And, I think the biggest thing that kept all of us kids from turning our backs on the church was seeing that what my parents said, they truly believed. The lived it at home, in good times and in bad. Not perfectly, but persistently. I look forward to reading your book. Thank you for this article.


Jul 11, 2014

I was an MK in Nigeria as a child and can relate firsthand to what you describe in your blog. I’m very blessed now to belong to a church body that loves & supports our pastors in an incredible way.

Your name sounds familiar to me but I can’t figure out where I might know you from. Our family was in Nigeria in the 70s; might we have crossed paths over there?


Jul 11, 2014

I am a PK and an MK and I know all too well the words you wrote above. I am now a PW(ife) and an MW(ife) and have a PK/MK of my own. We are in Mexico…and while it is difficult to help her understand, I try to learn from my parents mistakes and remember the Jesus of mercy and grace … the one who feasted with sinners and and loved on them and sat the children on His lap. It’s hard to lead by example and not just “preach” at her what “needs to happen.” I know she struggles with being in this glass house…the three of us do. It is my prayer that she sees Jesus when she sees her reflection in that glass….and she knows He is with us always. Thank you for this reminder, I needed it today.
I pray many blessings on you and your ministry, may you continue to seek His will in your life always.


Jul 22, 2014

Thank you for this beautifully written post. I believe that sharing these difficult experiences instead of hiding them brings needed healing. No. 5 brought back memories of hearing my own mother cry from the weight of ministry when I was a child. I look forward to reading your book in it’s totality.


Aug 26, 2014

My father is a minister. As a child, dinner was the only time when we’d have an opportunity to see dad. I guess we had to eat sometime. And I don’t remember a time when my mother was home that she wasn’t in bed. I have few family memories of childhood.

After becoming an adult I’ve never left the church, but I have struggled with its role in my life. When I was young, I learned that you never show your feelings unless they’re positive feelings, such as compassion. And, yes, always listen. People love a good listener and, besides, by not speaking you never give anything away. It was so exhausting.


Dec 19, 2014

I am a 17 year old and have been trapped in the life of the church since the day I was born. My dad is a Methodist pastor and being under the congregation’s microscope resulted in me developing a severe eating disorder by the age of 8.

What you have written is something I can relate to. In fact, I almost cried reading it because every word is so true.


Apr 24, 2015

This is a very needed article about an issue that is not talked about. I think another way to write an article like this would be ___ things we don’t want clergy children to learn at church.

My list would include.

1. Christianity is not real

2. A negative view of the Church.5.

3. Resentment toward God.

4. Poor boundaries.

5. Self-denial is a stupid concept.


Mar 03, 2016

My Husband and I are the founder’s of Quarry ministries in la. It’s been five years since it’s doors opened, but, three decades in the making. I asked Jesus into my heart at age 16. I was not on drugs, I did not deal with teen pregnancy and I had a very good childhood (compared to others). I had a lot of high school friends loved the 80s. U2,David Bowie ect. What drew me to Jesus was Love. Why would a man die such a horrific death for me. The unconditional love that put Him on the cross to this day, is very hard to understand. Fast forward to this very present day. I am a mom of a beautiful, vibrant, loving daughter who is very impressionable. I am very opinionated, assertive, consistent and am 150% committed to My God and king, My husband, and to my daughter (although she may see it different at times). As the church grows the expectation and stresses of church are getting more demanding. The so called leaders hate me because of my straingeth. I often have to wear the hat of associate pastor. The hypocritical voices speak and my husband often sides with the leaders. I feel unprotected, disregarded, abondoned to fend for myself. My baby girl hears more than she let’s on, sees more than enough and I know fears the unknown. At times I put unintentional pressure for good grades, a clean room and expecting her to appreciate what she has. I was researching clinical depression in the life of a pastor’s wife. I stumbled onto your post and was horried. We are at the desposal to the very families that are tearing our own marriage apart. A pastor’s kid of is in need of love and support and the very ones who get lost and forgotten in the name of Jesus and saving souls and pastor’s everywhere are losing the very ones God has in trusted to them. Lord help!


Oct 26, 2016

i know this is an old post. but WOW….its like you were spying on my home! i am a recovering PK. recovering from years of anger, resentment, anxiety towards the church, fear that people were always watching me. it has been such a long journey, how i wish there was ready help when we needed it most in stead of leaving home with a mountain of unforgiveness and pile of unrealistic exceptions heaped on my shoulders. how i long to see the tide change in the homes that PK’s live in today.



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