Church isn’t a business…. but it kinda is. When you think about the economics and the structure of it- it’s a very fickle business. It’s based on people’s opinions and popularity. It’s really odd when you really start to think about it because if you don’t play the right music, or have the right look; if you preach too much “hell fire and brimstone” or if you’re too “Joel Osteen”, if the kid’s ministry is a place where you can bring your kids for someone else to instill spiritual values that you should be doing on a regular basis at home, if you feel at “home” and “loved” enough… that’s where you decide to base your spiritual and eternal guidance- on superficial things that don’t really matter. And the Church has fallen for it… there are churches on every corner appealing to the edgy crowd, the business casual crowd, the wine & cheese crowd, the alternative Gospel crowd- “here’s our lights, here’s our smoke, here’s our mission, here’s our this… like us on Facebook, here’s our livestream… we do men’s fishing trips, we do ladies outlet shopping… we go here…we go….” the list goes on.
What does this have to do with preacher’s kids? Well you’re part of the family so that means you’re part of the family business. You were probably volun-told (definition: being told to volunteer) to perform some function in ministry to help the family out. You did it because you wanted to see your family succeed in the church world. You did it because you love your parents. You did it because you see how hard your parents believed in their vision and you wanted to help them out. Or maybe… you had no other choice. You were told to do it and that was that. Either way, welcome to the family business.
The business has it’s moments: life as a PK isn’t always the absolute worst, and I’m not just talking about the “tip” that people give your family in October during Pastor Appreciation Month as a way to justify their behaviors throughout the year. After all, you’re doing the Lord’s work and He has blessed you for it- you know what I mean. There have been moments where you have felt innately blessed. Moments. They’re nice.
There comes a point in the family business where you have to make a choice. Normally, it’s around the other major life changes that you have- graduating high school or college. What do you want to do? Stay in the ministry or pursue other avenues? Some of you were like “turning 18… I’m out. See ya.” Others felt like they had a place in ministry… like you wanted to continue and make a difference. So, you stayed.
I stayed. I have always had the option of pursuing other things but the longer I was in ministry and it went from a volun-told thing to something that I developed and spent time on and went through the ups and the downs of ministry that I felt that it was harder and harder to walk away. I love my parents and love their vision and I wanted to help them achieve the success that I know that they deserved. I wanted to help them “get there” so that it would all be worth it. However, I have come to realize that my vision, my success, and my happiness are important too. I have moments where I want to change directions and start over, but I feel like all of this time would be for nothing- wasted. I’ve realized that I have subconsciously put a lot of life things on hold because I don’t want to live life with these negative emotions in my next chapter. I’ve let really good friendships go because I didn’t want to fight the perceptions of the “business” or its “customers”- only to realize those customers were gone in 5 months. I’ve held off starting a family and getting married because I can’t let the ministry dictate my emotions. I’m at the age where I am starting to question if it’s worth it- not that God hasn’t blessed me- but if He couldn’t bless me AND me become happy and fulfilled with life outside of the business.
It’s important that if you are in the family business that you want to be in the family business. If you truly don’t want to be in ministry, you won’t be doing yourself a favor, the people that you are ministering to, or your parents.
Church shouldn’t be a business. Church shouldn’t be something that you “get through” or “have to do”. Church shouldn’t be an obligation. Ministry shouldn’t burn you out.
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor’s children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents.
- 94% of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor’s ministry.
Obviously- it’s a thing.
I’ve been on my own journey of figuring out what’s next for me. Do I stay? Do I go? How do I have this conversation? Do I have what it takes to be successful outside of ministry? Will I be happy? What does life look like? When you’re a PK- most of your life revolves around the ministry. What you do, where you go, what you say, where you vacation (lol- what’s that?), who you are friends with, etc. So it’s a big deal and a valid question to be concerned on what life looks like with out that pressure.
I’m holding on to the truth of Psalm 20:4
May he give you your heart’s desire, and put all your purposes into effect.