the shape of leadership

Four Things to Give Your Kids So They Won’t Hate Church

Creating a spiritually healthy environment

Influence Magazine on August 16, 2018

The life of a pastor’s kid can be tough. There’s the stigma to overcome and the criticism to watch out for. Without ever meaning to, you might create an environment that makes your children hate the church.

No one in ministry wants that, of course. But there are proactive steps you can take to keep your kids from hating church. In fact, if you are intentional about it, you can help them love the church. Here are four things you should give them so they can stir clear of bitterness:

1. Give Them a Spiritual Home Life

Love for church begins with love for God — and that starts at home. As a pastor, you teach the members of your congregation to serve as spiritual leaders in their own homes. Are you practicing what you preach?

You can’t assume your kids are hanging on every word you speak from the pulpit. So, back it up with words and deeds in your own house. Lead them in a daily quiet time. Read to them from the Word. Instill in your children strong biblical principles. And model the love of God the Father to them.

2. Give Them Their Own Identities

They will always carry the identity of “pastor’s kids.” There’s no getting around that. But help your children find their own identities outside of yours. Move the kids out of your shadow, and let them shine on their own.

Love for church begins with love for God — and that starts at home.

God didn’t design your kids to be carbon copies of you. He has given them unique gifts, interests and personalities. Help each one find a place of service, a community, and a unique niche. If your children can find their own places in the church, they’ll end up loving it.

3. Give Them Plenty of Room

Your children do not need to be at church every time you are there. It’s sometimes unavoidable, given transportation constraints or babysitting needs. But if you force them to sit through multiple services, they may end up resenting it.

Let your children attend and serve at the same level as any other kid in the church. And when they have to be there for multiple services, give them a place all their own. That may be access to your office, an empty classroom, or even their own little spaces they can claim for themselves. Those little fringe benefits of being a pastor’s kid can mean a lot.

4. Give Them Tons of Grace

Your children will mess up. That’s because they are human, and humans mess up. Everyone is imperfect. But there is a brighter spotlight on them than on most people in your church.

Be aware of any double standards. Reinforce unconditional love in your parenting. And be ready to dish out grace when they do make mistakes. Stand behind your children in the good and bad, and stand up for them when others criticize. A church without a forgiving heart will be one that drives kids away, especially ministers’ sons and daughters.

These are just a few of the ways you can help your children fall in love, and stay in love, with church. Remember that it can be tough, so talk to them often, let them be honest, and encourage them in their faith regularly.


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