As we continue to dedicate August to PK’s, I want to share one pastor’s wife’s journey growing up as a PK and pray it will bless you.
When I think back on my childhood as a PK, the first thoughts that come to mind are the perks. My dad was the pastor of a tight-knit church of less than 100. The song leader was my uncle and my grandpa was an elder. My mom was the church secretary and created and printed the bulletins each week in the little office in the basement of the church. We were small, but everyone knew each other and we cared for one another like a family – after all we were together twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday night, plus any celebrations or get-togethers in between.
My family lived next to the church in the parsonage, and other than the occasional knock on the door from someone in need, I thought it was pretty great that during the day my dad was next door if I needed him. Not to mention the fact that I had the whole church as a playground. My favorite pastime was playing with the microphone. There was this switch on the wall that would light up when the mics were on. The day I was tall enough to reach the switch by climbing on the stage and stretching as far as my little arms could reach was a good day – and a milestone! Not sure how excited my dad was about that milestone, but there was a lot of singing into the mics from that day on.
There were birthday parties in the fellowship hall with games of sardines and hide-and-seek afterward, those days that I climbed over the pews like it was a jungle gym, playing in the balcony, and generally making full use of an empty building between services. Those were sweet times.
On Sunday mornings we would get ready and walk next door to church. Sunday school was first and then worship. In worship I would sit next to my aunt because she was a soprano and so was I. My mom and sister sang alto, and in our non-instrumental church it made a difference if you didn’t know your part. To this day I love hearing people sing harmony.
The people of our church were mostly an older crowd, but it meant that I had all the grandmas I could ever want. The “little old ladies” were so sweet to me and my sister, always doting on us. We had a few “characters” in our church family – but don’t we all?
When I was 13 my dad felt led to further pursue his pastoral role as a counselor and took a job at a local megachurch as a counselor. This was both exciting and scary for me, though I think it was tougher on my sister. We went from a church of less than 100 to a church of 10,000. The members of the church we were raised in were very hurt because in their eyes this church “stole” a lot of members and now we were leaving them for this “six flags over Jesus” church too. That was a difficult change for all of us.
In the new church we now had other families on staff that were part of our inner circle, we knew more about what was going on behind the scenes (good and bad), we had instruments in worship, and large youth and children’s ministries. My dad was now known by thousands of people. We joke to this day about how my dad is recognized all the time when we go out. In fact, I was on a mission trip in a foreign country and found out that someone knew my dad! However, I’ve found that knowing lots of people comes with perks too!
I know for many, PK life is not as sweet as my journey has been. So as I think about what went right in my childhood, here are my top 5 words of wisdom for parents of PK’s:
1. Set solid boundaries around family time.
I have so many good memories of one-on-one and family time with my parents. This made it so much easier when church members needed my parents’ attention.
2. Allow PKs to have a life outside of church.
School friends, family functions, hobbies, and sports are a few ways that your child can develop an identity in addition to being a “PK”.
3. Allow your PK to enjoy the perks.
I probably thought I was getting away with a lot when I was climbing over pews. I’m not saying let your kids run wild, but allowing safe, fun, non-destructive use of resources is well worth it. Creating positive experiences surrounding church is crucial to balance facing the tough parts of being a PK.
4. Set the stage for open dialogue.
Acknowledge the tough aspects of being in ministry, celebrate the blessings, and allow your PK to talk about it. Listen and discuss what is in your control and what is out of your control. Then put your heads together on solutions that can ease any struggles.
5. Help your PK explore their spiritual gifts and personal interests within the church.
When I moved into 7th grade I had a hard time with youth ministry, but I loved helping out with the younger kids. My parents allowed me to volunteer during the Sunday School hour to help as an assistant in Kindergarten Sunday School. This kept me engaged in church at a pivotal time in my life – and I later went on to a career in education.
Ministry comes with its challenges and its blessings. PK’s have a unique set of opportunities and experiences. This is my journey. May the Lord pour out His joy on your family as you follow your calling and serve the Lord together.
I love hearing from PK’s that had a great experience growing up in that glass house, but as we all know that is not always the case. But I pray Sarah’s journey encourages you that your children can someday write about their sweet journey as a PK.
We are here to help your family on your ministry journey!