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7 Ways to Protect Your PK – Pastor’s Kid – in Ministry

I’ve written extensively about protecting the family in ministry. My wife has occasionally guest posted about the unique role of the pastor’s wife on this blog. Some of the comments I receive are well taken. I am basically asked “What about the PK’s? Who is looking out for them? Many disappear from the church as adults.”

PK = Pastor’s Kids.

I hear you. I have addressed the issue generally, as a family, but I haven’t written extensively about protecting children in ministry.

I am aware, however, the issue of the commenter’s concern. I’m blessed my PK’s survived ministry well. Both of my boys are very active in the church. One works for a private company, but mostly in the Christian sector, and the other is in full-time ministry. I understand, however, this is a problem for many pastors and their families.

By the time some pastor’s children reach adulthood they are often done with church – actually they are more done with the busyness and politics of church – and they want little or nothing to do with it. So, they sit on the sidelines of ministry – if they attend church at all.

Honestly, as much as I have heard it talked about, at least within my circles of ministry, it is more rare than it is a norm for the pastor’s children to not be active in church. I probably know more pastors who have children active in church than I know those who have children who have disappeared. I don’t know the statistics – please share them in the comments if you do – but if we could avoid damaging any child growing up in the ministry world I think we should.

That’s the purpose of this post. And it’s addressed to the pastor and the church.

Here are 7 suggestions for protecting your PK:

Level the expectations – Hold your children to Biblical standards. Train them well. Discipline appropriately. You hopefully teach it and you should parent what you teach. But don’t be surprised when your children aren’t perfect. They aren’t anymore than you are – or anyone else’s children.

Let them be kids – Don’t expect them to care as much about ministry as you do when they are – SEVEN or even seventeen. They might. Mine did to a certain extent – on certain days. And then other days they just wanted to shoot basketballs in the church gym while I went on church visitation.

Live what you preach – If you want them to appreciate the ministry, let them see you, the pastor, as authentic. Authenticity means you are in private who you claim to be in public. And chances are good they are observing both. They’ll respect you when you are equally transparent and honest with how you live your life on Sundays and through the week. And the more they respect you – the more they can respect the ministry. Remember, their primary concept of ministry is you.

Protect your time at home – When you are home – be home. This is HUGE! Let voicemail and email inbox do their thing. Put down the computer. Say no to outside interruptions. There will always be exceptions in the role of a pastor, but they should be rare, not common place. The children need to know you value your time with your spouse and them even more than your time with others.

Be their parent more than their pastor – You may be their pastor, but first they need a parent. I actually found others on staff, or even pastor friends in other churches, were sometimes better at being their pastor anyway. No one could replace my role as parent.

Give them roles as they desire – My boys helped launch a youth group. They led at camps. They worked with children and preschoolers. But I never forced it. I let them serve where they wanted to serve. Interestingly, when the idea was their’s, they seemed more likely to want to be involved.

Let them do ministry with you – My boys went to committee meetings. Staff meetings. Visitations. I took my boys on mission trips. Unless it was a highly confidential meeting for the parties involved, I gave them access to my calendar. They got to appreciate what I do as a pastor – not resent it because I wasn’t home. Again, this was voluntary not mandatory.

Someone is wondering why I didn’t put anything about my personal walk with Christ as one of the points. Well, hopefully this is understood in the role of a pastor and a believer. But yes, of course. Consider it understood this is number one for every question of how to do ministry effectively. Your children will likely never grow stronger in their faith than you are modeling for them.

Pastors – or even better – PK’s – anything else you’d recommend?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 16 Comments

    • Cheryl says:

      Teach them to love the church as Jesus did. Jesus called the church His bride. If you wouldn’t criticize your spouse to your kids (and I’m trusting you wouldn’t), then don’t criticize Jesus’ bride to your kids. Let your kids be kids. They aren’t ready for the politics, back-biting, gossiping, etc. Remember, your kids love you, they want to protect you. We all get frustrated, angered or just have a bad day. While you will quickly forgive and move on because God has called you to this ministry and given you a heart for the church/members, your kids (and spouse) will remember and will likely struggle to forgive. This was the greatest blessing my parents gave to me.

  • Janae says:

    I’m an adult PK, and my negative experiences weren’t so much with what my parents did as they were with how church members treated me. Church members tend to critique PK’s and have unrealistic expectations for them. Also, having parents who are well-known public figures in a denomination opens up the door for abuse for PK’s, through things like gossip and slander.


    this is great our Mentor, for us here in Uganda we are lagging behind in getting support to minister ourselves as PKs. Am a programe Director of PKs association which is at infant stage so our Mentor we really need your concern both materially and financially. thanks for these insights, surely we need you more as we also love most. Keep updating us the way we can inherit our parents foot steps. God bless you richly.

  • Kevin says:

    As a PK, the thing that I remember most was that my parents always seemed overly concerned about what the church members might say about them or about our behavior as kids. The end result of that was a feeling of being judged and living in a glass house. The responsibility I felt was that it might be possible that I could do something wrong and get my dad fired. That was a lot of pressure for a 10-year old.

  • Mark says:

    Too many people are judgmental of a Pastor on how he manages his family. PK's are fallen creatures like everyone else, but perhaps more subject to scrutiny than most. For some it results in a period of rebellion, but fortunately His grace redeems and He is faithful to complete the work He started. Thanks Ron for the insightful post.

  • As a PK the points about living what you preach and protecting your time at home really resonate with me. Thanks for sharing this. I hope pastors read and heed.

  • @joshbritt says:

    Great post! So helpful. This gives me great insight as i seek to raise my boys to love the church and our home.

  • Kha says:

    Keep the church politics out of the house. It turns us kids away from the church when all you hear about is arguments that are occurring at church. It goes along with keeping time at home as time at home and not an exstention of work.

  • @LeaMoja says:

    This topic about PKs is very useful. I am praying that we'll do our best to raise up a PK (and hopefully another PK soon). I just hope we won't overdo it. LOL. God bless Pastor Ron!