According to the Barna Research Group, 33% of pastors say their grown child is no longer actively involved in church. And it’s not because they rejected their parents’ faith; in fact, only 7% say their child has done so (lower than the 9% “prodigal rate” among Millennials). Instead, many simply come to reject the church.
So, what makes PKs run from the pews? Last week, we looked at 7 things we can learn from the children of pastors and the challenges they face. This week, Ed Stetzer shares the 5 ways we can teach our children to hate the ministry:
1. Put the ministry before your family. The demands of ministry take a toll on family relationships. Children who ministered with their parents (when possible) were much more likely to have positive memories.
2. Tell them how much is expected of them as a pastor's kid. Unrealistic expectations in behavior and participation cause many PKs to rebel.
3. Tell them about church conflicts as often as possible. Kids take things that happen to their parents personally. Telling them the details of every conflict makes them distrust the church.
4. Look godlier at church than when you are at home. Showing grace to church members but not family members leads to bitter feelings. If kids don’t see their parents as having integrity, they become disillusioned.
5. Act more like a live-in, full-time pastor at home, rather than a parent. PKs need parents who step away from the ministry to just be parents, not someone who acts like a pastor all the time.
So, how can we help pastors’ kids love ministry? One PK shares:
“Being a PK with godly and realistic parents, I've also had an example for what it looks like to love Jesus and cherish His word. The example of my parents and wonderful people in the church has encouraged me to follow Jesus because I see what He's grown in their lives, and I want that. And I want my friends to have that too.”
For those who have adult children who’ve walked away from church (perhaps because of some of these issues), reconciliation is possible, as an article on Crosswalk explains:
“Forgive and apologize. Your children have hurt you, and you’ve hurt your children, through some of what you all have said and done to each other in the past. But don’t allow bitterness to poison your relationships with God and each other. Realize that you won’t be able to lead your kids back to Christ if you don’t follow His command to forgive and apologize. Remember that God has forgiven you of many sins. So forgive your kids, as an act of your will, despite your feelings. As you rely on God’s power to help you through the forgiveness process, your feelings will gradually change. Acknowledge the specific mistakes you’ve made relating to your kids, and ask them to forgive you. Whenever your children are willing, pursue reconciliation in your relationships. Take the first step to try to reconcile with them.”
What about you? What tips do you have for parents wanting their kids to love ministry? Or for those whose children have walked away from church?
John UpChurch is the senior editor of BibleStudyTools.com and Jesus.org. You’ll usually find him downing coffee at his standing desk (like a boss).