Before we became a ministry family, we were normal churchgoers. We attended every Sunday, and we had Christian friends. One of those friends had grown up as a preacher’s kid. This man was offered certain volunteer positions within the church he attended, and many times he turned them down. He was a faithful church attender but not too involved otherwise. I didn’t understand why he remained on the fringes (since he was from a ministry family) until we became a ministry family ourselves.
It’s a sad fact, but church is not always the most pleasant place to be. Satan rears his ugly head in the form of church conflict, and children are exposed to unacceptable behaviors and attitudes within the church walls. Many children who are raised in church grow into non-churched adults, and the pastor’s children are no different. As a matter of fact, I have been told by more than one preacher’s kid (and some who aren’t) that they love Jesus and have a desire to serve Him, but they don’t want to be part of organized church because of fighting, gossip, and the way they have seen the adults treat the pastor—their dad.
The price of doing ministry is high. If you have not given it much thought until now, here is a news bulletin: your children may or may not attend church when they become adults, which means your grandchildren may or may not be raised in church. I know one family who homeschools their children with Christian curriculum that includes Bible lessons, and prayers are said before each meal. The teaching is there, even though the family does not attend organized church except for sending the children to Vacation Bible School yearly. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (nkjv). The verse does not say he will attend church every Sunday, but it does say he will not depart from the teaching he has received.
So we need to remind our congregations, and remember ourselves, that little eyes are watching how we behave at church, and there is a lot is at stake. As we are training our children, let us first and foremost place the emphasis on having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and teach them how to be His disciples. God will take care of the rest.
Maleah Bell is a freelance editor and pastor’s wife. She and her husband make their home in Middle Tennessee.