The Pastor’s Family and Church Involvement…

One of the scariest things for me as a young person in ministry is the issues related to a pastor (or staff member, etc.) and his family’s involvement in the life of the local church.  I’ve known quite a few different situations and I often wonder what the best approach is for a pastor and his family.  Some I would outright reject and but even the ones I consider often raise difficult questions in my mind.  Probably some of these relate to parenting philosophy in general, but I’m thinking about the pastor’s family specifically.  One of the biggest tensions perhaps is finding that balance between “church is more than daddy’s job; it has to be a personal commitment from each of us, so do whatever you feel like, kid” and “You’re expected to be here every time the doors are open, early, dressed nice, with a smile on your face, and be willing to serve as de facto babysitter/envelope stuffer/general labor at no cost to the church whenever we feel like it.”  So here are a couple “models” of pastoral family church involvement that I’ve seen or could guess exist from stories I’ve heard (that would be a great new horror film series: “Nightmares of a Pastor’s Kid, Part 3: Sanctuary at Night”).  There are more perhaps, and the whole point of this post is to hear some feedback from those who have actually endured ministry as pastors with families or as the family members regarding advice you’d give to some younger people like me in the ministry.

1. The Indentured Servant Model: The pastor’s wife and kids are resources on loan to the church for whatever they deem necessary. Church members have a right to complain any time they don’t see a family member at a church event or if their appearance/attitude don’t match the stock happy family photo on the church bulletin.

Positive: Kids will be well prepared for military life.  Negative: Church is a job, nothing more. Family feels valued for job performance and not themselves. Kids have ridiculous expectations on them which only lead to bitter rule-keeping or drastic rebellion.

2. The Family Commitment Model: The pastor’s family is committed as members to the church. They attend with the same involvement that would be considered “faithful” for a regular member (aka not gone for soccer 6 months of the year), and are allowed to find their own ministry niche. The church is taught not to freak out if the kids aren’t at the 6 am senior adult prayer breakfast. The wife is free to use her gifts and talents within/without the church as she deems appropriate.

Positive: Church commitment and involvement is kept serious for the family. Within that commitment, there is freedom for individual family members to find their place. Pastor’s family can set model for how other busy non-paid church members can reasonably be involved. Negative: Family members may not see a place for their gifts at the church, especially as children’s interests and talents develop as they mature. “Commitment level” may be hard to keep balanced, tipping either up into the “Indentured Servant” level or down into the “Laissez-faire” model.

3. The Laissez-faire Model: For those who slept during economics class, laissez-faire basically means “hands-off.”  In this model the pastor adopts a “hands-off” model towards his family’s church involvement.  If they want to go, he’ll give them a ride, but he’s not twisting arms or waking people up on a Sunday morning.  If they come, they won’t be asked to do much more than fill a pew.  Forget ministry involvement; if they want his wife to be involved, they should pay her! And of course, if Junior joins one of those traveling carnivals known as “tournament teams”, then the wife and kids can disappear for 6 months and no one will care as much. If the family is tired on Sunday night, then dad will show up and preach, but it’s Home Makeover time for everyone else.

Positive: Kids can never complain about being forced to go to church. If they are involved it is a credit to their personal interest and effort. Negative: Kids can never complain about being forced to go to church.  Tell me which 5 year-old will set their alarm and get themselves ready for church each week, especially if they find out Spongebob is on tv. Some forced activity is healthy for children. And usually this “non-committal” kind of model winds up leading kids to other commitments in place of church, often still not at their own choosing.  The pastor’s family may not hate him for taking them to church each week, but they might resent him for sending them to softball games all weekend in 100-degree heat.  Dad and family may end up living two totally separate lives. It also sends the message to other church members that if one isn’t paid to be at church, then showing up isn’t important. When the only one of a family who shows up on Sunday receives a check for it, the people in the pews wonder why they bothered to show up and get told about how much more involved they need to be each week.

4. The Intentional Exile Model: This one is rare, but I’ve seen it before.  This one might be more common for temporary work like a interim pastor.  The family is committed to going to a different church than where the father pastors.  Maybe for an interim period (especially if the church is going to require some tough changes), the pastor doesn’t want to burn his family out, or have them switch from the local church they all attended for 5-6 months and then return.  Some families may also do this with youth age kids (though the instance I know of, the pastor’s kids were so bad he probably just wanted to stop hearing complaints so he sent them elsewhere.)

Positive: On a temporary basis, this could be good, if the family is committed to a church.  Also there may be a rare occasion where a child absolutely needs a change of scenery in order to be involved. Negative: If not temporary, then we have the bifurcation of the family again.  Also, pastors should not use this model so they can ignore their own family’s behavior because it’s now out of sight from their church.  For a long term pastor, using this approach tells the congregation you’re not committed even to them to bring your family along.

Ok, I came up with 4.  There are probably more, and I’m assuming many people probably fit in a shade in between a couple of these approaches.  For those who’ve gone through this (or are currently), which model did you gravitate towards?  What benefits/negatives did you encounter that I missed? Pastor’s families: which model would you have preferred growing up and why? For those who are not pastors or pastor’s family, what similarities could these approaches have for your own family’s church life?  I look forward to hearing!

Comments

  1. says

    Ok, I’m just gonna say it… churches have no business expecting anything from a pastor’s wife/kids than they do from any other Christian. Assuming the kids are saved of course.

        • says

          Stephen,

          Can a person go to heaven apart from repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ alone? The question requires a “Yes” or “No” answer. The question does not involve reference to any other person, church, book, video, or theological “camps”. A simple “Yes” or “No”.

      • says

        Also, Josh, so you think the idea of the pastor’s wife as a defacto head of women’s or children’s ministries in some churches is more a cultural thing? I’ve often wondered how churches outside of the South view that. Since I’ve only lived in the South I don’t have any experience to speak of.

        • says

          sorry for not replying-my wife and i have been out apartment hunting today and we just got back!

          Joe,
          i don’t think it’s a regional cultural thing (aka south vs. north- i’ve seen several types in both cases) but more of an individual church tradition thing. Some people just have it in mind that hiring a staff member is a 2-for-1 deal with wife included as an another on-call employee. It also might just be that the previous pastor’s wife did one of those functions and so they are hoping the vacated space can be filled quickly (by the new pastor’s wife!).

          Dave Miller,
          Thanks for steering that back for me. I had a filling other thread hijackings might spill over here as well. To the rest of you, stay on topic!

    • Daviss Woodbury says

      Joe,

      How does that jibe with the qualifications for elders’ and deacons’ wives in 1 Timothy 3? Do you feel that those are specific expectations for these wives above and beyond those of other church members, or do you see these requirements as simply a restatement of those expectations which should be applied to all wives in the church? Or do you interpret that passage to be dealing with deaconesses, and not wives at all? Just curious.

      • says

        Well, I not having the text right here in front of me I don’t see anything in that list that would not apply to all Christians. Can you think of anything.

        • Daviss Woodbury says

          No, but I could say the same thing about most of the qualifications for elders and deacons. I would just be curious why you think they were spelled out here in qualifications for leaders and their wives.

          I guess my take would be that I would want my family to be setting the example for involvement that we would expect of all church members. In other words, I agree with you that I wouldn’t necessarily expect my family to do MORE than anyone else, but we might need to do it FIRST. Would you agree with that?

        • Daviss Woodbury says

          1 Tim. 3:11 (ESV) – Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.

      • says

        Daviss,
        Well, if the translation is “wives”, it only means deacons’ wives. but since those requirements are generally expected of all Christians, so I wouldn’t see a huge difference. Though personally, I think “women” may mean the “women” on the widow’s list in chapter five who were given money by the church to take care of orphans. but again, those are expected of all Christians still.

        • Daviss Woodbury says

          I can see how it could mean the older women charged with caring for orphans.

          I do disagree, though, that if the word is translated “wives” that it only refers to deacons’ wives. While it occurs immediately after the discussion of deacons, most commentators I’ve read feel that the wives refers back to both elders and deacons. Either way, though…

  2. David Miller says

    Josh, for my first pastorate I followed a man who had billed him and his wife as a “pastor team.” She worked right alongside him and he worked to get the church to view them as partners in ministry.

    I went the other direction. I made it clear that they were hiring me as pastor and that my wife was not part of the employment. She was always active in ministry, but I we had small children and I did not want her to be exposed to unrealistically high expectations from church people.

    She can be a partner in ministry, but it should be because of her heart and calling, not because of the expectations and demands of the church for the “pastor’s wife.”

    I guess that puts me in the neighborhood of your #2 above.

    • says

      I heard tell of one pastor whose wife was being asked by the prospective church during their interview time with the church what she saw her job being at the church.

      She replied, “I sleep with the pastor.”

      • says

        True story–I was leading music for a revival once. My wife was my piano player. Well, it being a revival we had visitors and such and I said “You know, this piano player is kinda cute. I’m going to see if she’ll go home with me tonight”. Of course, before the gasps could being I quickly added “That was a joke. She’s my wife”. Haa

  3. Anon Pastor says

    I hope you will allow me to approach this anonymously, since I am in the middle of dealing with this situation and wouldn’t want any church members stumbling upon this. But I am looking for some wise counsel.

    So here’s my situation: I am in a small, rural SBC church. My wife has always had a passion and burden for ministry. She has been active in starting a play group for stay-at-home moms, starting a cancer support group in our community, coordinating nursery volunteers, teaching children’s Sunday School, leading the Wed. PM kids’ program, and being a leader in women’s ministry. She and my kids are also at church on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. And I have never felt that our church has pushed her or expected her to do these things. These are activities born of her own heart to serve.

    A fellow staffer in our church has a very different situation. The only area of ministry his wife has served in has been teaching every other month in children’s Sunday School, and she recently resigned her position, not giving any reason except she didn’t want to do it anymore. She is usually in Sunday morning worship, occassionally attends Sunday School, and has never attended a Sunday night or Wednesday night service. Her children attend the same things she does (most Sunday mornings, occasional Sunday School), but they do come to our Wed. PM kids program.

    Am I, as a pastor, unreasonable in expecting her to be involved in SOME area of ministry? I would be thrilled if she was faithful to attend Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, and found a place of service (I’d give her a total pass on Sunday night and Wednesday night). I have talked with this staff member and he assures me that he is addressing the situation. Also, we are at a time in the life of our church where I have challenged every member to find an area of service. Do I have a legitimate gripe? I don’t want to lay down the law and say, “If your wife doesn’t do something, you’re fired.”

    Should his emloyment be contingent on his wife’s involvement?Should I continue to implore him to speak to his wife? Should I address her directly? Should my wife talk to her? Any thoughts?

    • David Miller says

      I would give this advice, with the caveat that I do not know the details of the situation. Points 1 and 2 may seem to conflict a little.

      First, I think that whatever expectations there are of the pastor/staff wife should be made clear in advance. I have a detailed job description and I am only to be held liable for fulfilling those duties. She should not be held to any standard that is not spelled out in advance. If the church is going to demand something from her that she is not doing, as a condition of her husband’s employment, you need to spell that out clearly and give them the option of submitting to the standard or looking for another place of service.

      Second, there is a basic expectation of godly living for a pastor’s wife that is spelled out in the scriptures. If she falls outside that standard, then the husband should be held accountable.

      Most importantly, as I read what you wrote, I got the impression that something serious is going on in this woman’s life. Personal issues? Marital issues? Relational issues in the church? Personal depression? Don’t know. But when behavior changes, there is usually a reason for it.

      You might want to first approach the situation from a ministry perspective and find out what the problem is – not just as a ministry problem.

        • bill says

          Yeah,

          You hired the staff member, not the wife. I’ve seen too many times where the burned out wife will eventually cause the staff member to leave the ministry altogether. Let the husband lead the wife and you lead the staff member.

          I’ve long thought it’s too unrealistic to expect the family of a staff member at everything. Especially when you have stuff going on at the church four to seven nights a week. What good is a ministry if you can’t fulfill your role and vows to your wife and family?

          • bill says

            I left the ministry because I couldn’t handle to stress of a church demanding every Sunday morning and night, Wednesday all day into the night, Mondays, Tuesday, and Thursdays. Invariably, with my position, I’d be asked to assist in working a youth/children’s event on Friday or Saturday. It wasn’t uncommon for me to go back into the office three or four nights a week after my wife went to bed just because of the demands of a media position in a church that doesn’t realize the amount of work in a true, full on media position.

            The demands of my job alone were enough to make my wife rebel against the whole concept of church.

          • David Miller says

            This is not a biblical concept, as much as it is practical. Pastors and other church workers need a detailed job description that spells out expectations. There will be no expectation other than that which is spelled out in the document.

            On the other hand, Bill (and I don’t mean this to be a personal insult or anything) sometimes the problem is with we who are in ministry. We try to please everyone and make everyone like us, so we work longer hours and do things that are not necessary.

            Again, I have no idea if you did that, but I have fallen prey to that and have seen others who did. Too often we give in to the unrealistic expectations of our churches instead of living for the glory and pleasure of God.

            Yes, I know how that sounds. But it is a lesson I am learning. I realize that in ministry I will always leave something undone and someone unhappy. But the more I live to please the Father, the easier it is to sleep at night.

          • says

            one thing for you as a head pastor to determine is what you consider to be healthy attendance at church for your members in general. i.e. what do you push them toward being involved with? Most would say that being involved in some kind of close group (small group or sunday school), corporate worship, and a ministry of some kind (though it can happen outside the 4 walls of course) is a good goal. (may vary based on circumstances.) I think many pastors should lead their churches to intentionally downsize programs and activities if the expectations are going beyond this. if you’re a support staff, then you’ve got to communicate your feelings with the leadership about the “business” factor both up front and periodically so that you don’t wind up being burned out and resentful.

  4. Anon Pastor says

    So for the record, my expectations of my family fall under #2. His expectations of his family seem to fall under #3.

    • John Fariss says

      I agree with David. I note–and this may be incorrect–but it appears that while you have spoken with the staff member, (1) it is from the perspective of “getting his wife involved so others will be involved,” and (2) that you have not talked with them as a couple or the woman by herself. Maybe there is an issue other than ministry involvement that is screaming for attention; or maybe it is a teachable moment for the congregation, viz., that your church is not everything to everyone–perhaps (and this is assuming her absence is not from some problem, whether with her husband/family, or someone in the congregation) her gifts, talents, and passions lie in a direction that ministry at the church you serve does not address. Are with in cooperation with other churches and ministries, or in competition with them? It makes a difference in how we view members and their level of involvement.

      John

      • says

        good advice, John. care for the staff and remember how easy it is for staff families to not only deal with regular member issues, but they also know all the nitty gritty behind the scenes stuff that can make it hard to want to be involved, especially if there was some conflict or personal struggles. keep it as a pastoral care issue rather than a job issue for your staff member. but don’t ignore it and hope for the best.

      • Anon Pastor says

        This is good advice. Let me correct the assumption, however, that I approached the issue with the staff member simply as an attendance issue. I have addressed it with him pastorally, expressing concern for her and the state of her soul. I am hesitant to meet with her alone, trying to give him the opportunity to be the spiritual leader of his family and minister to his wife. If he proves unwilling or unable to do this, I would meet with them as a couple.

        Thanks again for the counsel, everyone. This has been helpful.

        • cb scott says

          Anon,

          Do not meet with another staff member’s wife alone. That’s simply a mistake no matter the situation or circumstance.

          Also, the staff member needs to realize that if you have noticed this problem, most of the adults in the church have also. His credibility will come into question as time goes on if this situation is not dealt with properly. Maybe you should get some outside help with this if you are too close to it.

          • Anon Pastor says

            Thanks, cb. It is my policy not to meet alone with women, nor to take females of any age in my car alone. This was drilled into me by older ministers early on and I have never forgotten it.

            Also, in this situation specifically, I believe this is a learning experience for this staff member as well in how to lead his wife. I don’t want to subvert or undermine his authority.

        • John Fariss says

          I misspoke about meeting with the wife; what I meant was to ask or suggest was that you meet with her, but without the husband present. Maybe with either your (the pastor’s) wife, or a trusted deacon. If the problem stims to something between the husband/wife, it is unlikely she will open up about it with him present, whereas sometimes (only sometimes) will she open up about it in his absence.

          John

          • says

            “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

            There is only one circumstance I can think of when I might recommend counseling with a wife or a husband without the other spouse present: 1) if the spouse refuses an invitation to come. And in that case, I would not allow gossip or slander of the spouse who refused to come. I would try to help the spouse who did come work through whatever issues he or she had, rather than try to fix the other spouse from a distance.

            We have to be very careful about driving a wedge into an institution that is supposed to be cleaved together like leviathan’s scales.

    • cb scott says

      Anon,

      I almost fear (“almost”) to ask this question. Is this staff member the music guy?

        • cb scott says

          Dave,

          I asked that question because through the years, I have served with some extremely talented music guys and a couple of women who were extremely talented in music ministry. But some of them had the most strange family lives I have ever encountered.

        • says

          You know the old adage – most staff conflicts come between the pastor and the music guy. I apologize in advance to all you music guys who are offended by that.

          • cb scott says

            Yeah, I don’t want any music guys to be offended. I have worked with some great ones. I work with a great one now. His family life is extremely strong. But for the life of me, I have worked with two or three who just could never be at peace in their own homes.

      • Anon Pastor says

        cb,

        No. Youth guy. And for what it’s worth, I have attempted to address the issue with great concern for this man and his family. I asked if he feels supported by his wife as he ministers. He says he does not. I ask repeatedly if he has spoken to his wife about the issue. He says that he has, even assuring me that such conversations have led to arguments. I have asked often if she has an issue with our church or individuals in it. He assures me that is not the case. I ask if he feels it would be helpful for my wife to offer her support and encouragement. I remind him that the people of the church really want to get to know and love her. And yet, either because of his unwillingness to lead or her stubbornness (maybe both), the issue remains unresolved. And again, to clarify, I’m not asking her to be “co-minister” with her husband. I just want her to come regularly on Sunday mornings, be involved in some sort of small group/Sunday School, and find just one area to give of her gifts.

        cb, I appreciate your contribution and counsel here. So many of you with more wisdom and experience than I possess have offered fine advice. I will not let it go to waste.

        • says

          Anon – there’s some serious stuff going on behind the scenes. Can’t pretend I’ve got a crystal ball to understand it all, but you have a problem brewing there, my friend.

          I might suggest that those of us who blog here should pray for our brother who has to deal with this situation.

          Pray for this couple.
          Pray for this pastor as he deals with the issue.

          If we can argue with each other, we can also pray for one another.

          • Anon Pastor says

            Thank you, David. I am aware of the potential that this has to undermine this family and our church. That’s why I brought it to this venue. I do covet the prayers of those on this board. Pray that I would not pussyfoot around the issue, but that I also would not go in “guns-a-blazing.” Pray that I would communicate the seriousness of the issue, and that this man and his wife would understand. Pray that all of us would repent: me, of allowing the issue to get to this point without dealing with it head-on, the minister, for failing to lead his family, and his wife, for her refusal to be a contributing part of the Body.

          • cb scott says

            Dave is most probably right. This is especially true if this couple is young and have not been married long.

        • says

          I have experienced this first hand. My wife hated me being in the ministry. She admitted to me years later she drug her heals and resisted in every way she could to make things hard on me.

          What you have here is a sin problem. She is rebelling against God’s authority. I can offer no suggestion other than prayer

          • John Fariss says

            Joe said, “What you have here is a sin problem. She is rebelling against God’s authority.”

            Oh, please, Joe. You don’t know that, especially the second sentence. It could be, but neither of us has enough information to make that judgment, and there are many, many other possibilities. Maybe someone in the congregation deeply hurt her her, either by their actions, or by taking her for granted–in which case it is a sin problem, but not her sin. Maybe her husband hurt her deeply–for all you and I know, he had an affair with the organist or Sunday School director, or slaps her around when he gets frustrated–in which case again, it is a sin problem, but not her sin. Maybe she is not called or gifted as a Sunday School teacher, and simply took on that role because she felt it was expected of her–in which case maybe it is a sin problem, but that of the staff and/or congregation. Or maybe she is a called and gifted Sunday School teacher, but is simply burnt out–whether from life in the fishbowl, from those she teaches (or taught at a past church), or from the demands of being a (presumably) young mother and wife, and possibly wage-earner, as well as a demanding church–in which case, if there is a sin problem, it is on insisting that she do beyond her abilities. Maybe her gifts, talents, and passion lie elsewhere, other than in the ministries that particular church can offer–in which case, I doubt there is a sin, possibly other than misinterpreting God’s call to that church. For that matter, maybe she has some mild form of mental illness (clinical depression for instance) which is anything but a sin problem, though I would argue that ignoring or overlooking it is.

            Things are not always as clear, or as cut and dried, in the real life as they are in the world of Joe.

            John

          • says

            And sometimes when a woman drags her heals, resisting it is because the husband was not called to ministry. It is not a sin problem on the part of the wife. Both must be willing or it is not always a call from God. Or both must wait while God works on either the wife or the husband, in either case both husband and wife must agree to go to a mission field, a ministry. If both don’t agree the husband should not go or be a minister.

          • bill says

            If the wife doesn’t want to do more than the average member, that’s fine. The wife’s calling may be nothing more than to just care for her husband who is in the ministry. When you start forcing people to be or do more than what they are called to do, then you start trying to be God rather than let God work in this person’s life. I have a good friend who is a Media Pastor and his wife basically just shows up Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. She also has a MDiv from SWBTS and did missions for a few years. She is firmly convinced that her calling after she got married was to care for their children, raise them in a Godly home, and support her husband’s ministry by taking care of the household and eliminating those concerns to free him up for his ministerial concerns.

            You tread dangerous ground when you try to force a wife (or husband) to serve roles in a church just because the spouse works for that church.

  5. Bill Mac says

    “Should his emloyment be contingent on his wife’s involvement?”

    Absolutely not. Do you really want someone serving who does not want to? Or who is being pressured by her husband?

    • Anon Pastor says

      Yeah, that was my thinking. I mentioned above that I had no interest in doing that. But couldn’t you run into the same problem with any kind of expectation/requirement?

    • says

      on the other hand, if someone’s family refuses to follow the husband’s leadership to serve at the church, it may be a sign of deeper problems or of someone who may not be able to work in church leadership at the current time while they sort these things out. but you don’t want to just say, “get them here or you’re fired.” use pastoral wisdom to see what’s really going on with the family. Is the husband leading his family away? (he’s vicariously skipping and rebelling through them) or is he trying to lead them but they’re unwilling for various reasons?

      • cb scott says

        Josh C,

        In such circumstances there usually are “deeper problems” as you have stated. Yet, it often makes the “work place” a difficult place if the pastor gets heavily involved in solving those problems. I think a good referral is in order, especially if the staff member is one who the pastor greatly desire to keep on staff and wants a long term, good working relationship.

  6. says

    #1 and #3 are unreasonable. #2 is closest to best for most situations and #4 for some situations where the particular pastorate is a special case as part of a larger ministry. I’ve seen this in areas where a man might pastor more than one church or be involved in various local church-planting activities where his current ministry area doesn’t yet have a regular church but where he is still involved on a weekly basis in his ministry area during normal times of worship for an established church. In this case, #4 would be good so that the pastor’s family has a supporting body and regularity they need.

  7. says

    I have two young children. Being the pastor, I am at most events of the church. It is however difficult for my wife to head up ministries whenever her husband is involved in everything. She is faithful in attending every service and Sunday School. She helps in keeping the nursery. I however think that it is ridiculous to expect spouses to be partners in ministry. What about the children? I can’t imagine having two parents on call 24/7. Sometimes, my whole family will go visiting with me. I guess that I believe in #2. However, I think that a “faithful member” is someone that attends on Sunday mornings and uses their spiritual gifts to exhort the rest of the body. I’m not convinced that they have to attend worship more than once a week on the Lord’s Day in order to be “faithful Christians.”

  8. cb scott says

    This has the possibilities of being a fun post as well as one with great seriousness and maybe some great war stories. And I do hope I do not have to defend any past or present leaders of the SBC against any false accusations against some heinous sin. I also hope I do not have to let one of my Alabama friends know I have already read “that book” or that I do not need to read the book, because I was present when that particular little piece of history was made. :-)

    Here is a war story:

    Years ago I became pastor of a Southern Baptist church. It was an average sized church with all the right SBC stuff going on and for the most part very stable.

    My first official day as pastor fell on a Wednesday night. My wife and I got to the Mid-week service early. We were sitting together in my new office when an elderly lady invited herself in to the office. She sat down in a chair across the conference table from my wife. My wife greeted her with the normal small talk exchange.

    Shortly into the conversation the lady asked my wife if she played the organ or piano. The answer was: No. “Do you sing?” was the next question. The answer was: No. Next question was, “Do you keep the nursery”? The answer was: No. The next question was: Do you work with youth? The answer was: No. Then the lady said, “For all the money we are paying your husband, you should do something.”

    • John Fariss says

      CB, I think I served that same church. It may have had a different name, it may even have been in a different state, but it was the same church.

      John

    • says

      That would make a great post sometime – “share your horror stories of dealing with unrealistic expectations.”

      On second thought, it might get out of hand.

  9. John Fariss says

    Unfortunantly, the pressing question is less how do we view our family’s involvement and more what expectations does the congregation have of our family’s involvement. Churches have expectation of not only the pastor/staff members, but also of their families. And even worse, the expectations which get “us” into trouble most often are not those given us when we arrived, but the unspoken ones. I heard of a pastor in NC at a rural church who decided to send birthday cards to every senior citizen in the community. He did it at his own expense, and considered it his personal ministry. Eventually, in the course of normal events, he left. The church called a new pastor, who of course knew nothing about the cards. But when the seniors failed to get cards from the “new preacher,” they (wrongly) concluded he cared nothing about them, and withdrew their support for them. By the time he learned about the cards, the situation was so far gone he left under pressure of falling contributions and attendance. And it was all because of unspoken expectations which, being unspoken, were naturally unmet. What congregations expect of our families are often likewise unspoken. The best thing we can do is to find a way to get the congregation to articulate those expectations. Then we can either negotiate them or admit we are at the wong church, and seek God’s will elsewhere.

    John

    • cb scott says

      John,

      I followed a guy once who had given all the children candy as they went out of the church after them Sunday morning service. This was in Mississippi. On the third or fourth Sunday, some kid walked up to me on his way out of the church and said, “When are you gonna start givin’ out the candy?”

    • says

      I had a similar experience at my first pastorate. The previous pastor had held a reception for the deacons every December – a Christmas party. I knew nothing about it and did not do it. In the church where I had been associate, the deacons had a party and invited the staff.

      People were upset with us for not having the deacon party, which I had no idea was even expected.

      Again, we need detailed job descriptions which define expectations.

  10. cb scott says

    Matt,

    I could tell my wife was somewhat hurt by the exchange. And I was rather angered. But even before I was saved part of my credo was never to physically harm a woman or child. So after my prayer for the lady to have an immediate sex change so I could shoot her/him was not answered, I took charge of the conversation.

    I told the lady that “Karen had married a rather rowdy husband who God had called to preach and she had her hands full just taking care of him.” Later my wife became friends with the lady. I never did like her much though. :-)

  11. says

    btw, if you ever see a writer give three options, with one being a positively-presented middle ground between two more extreme positions, you can usually guess which one he leans toward.

  12. cb scott says

    We found that a church with a regular attendance of 200-300 was the hardest for my wife to cope with as far as “being the pastor’s wife.” The reason was that it seemed that every lady in the church wanted to have a “personal” relationship with my wife. We found that some jealousies broke out among the ladies when they began to compare notes as to who was spending the most time with my wife.

    Karen, said her life was much easier when we were in a larger church with a bigger staff. The women of the church in the larger church were not as “needy” of the my wife’s attention.

  13. SSBN says

    Lesson from the University of Hard Knocks:

    You’ll be a pastor until they fire you or you resign. You will be a father until you die.

    This post is extremely important to pastors still raising children. I pray it will protect someone’s children from the heart-aches mine endured because I was not paying enough attention.

    Thank God, He is merciful and kind.

    • cb scott says

      “You’ll be a pastor until they fire you or you resign. You will be a father until you die.”

      A-Men

      “”You’ll be a pastor until they fire you or you resign. You will be a father until you die” and then the sons your reared will be fathers.

      Thank God He is merciful and kind.

  14. Bill Mac says

    This conversation opens up a lot more issues regarding church. I wonder if we can biblically justify an expectation of “be there everytime (or most) the doors are open.” We also need (I think) to rethink the idea that our Christian service must be within the confines of the church. Sometimes, being a good spouse, parent, employee or friend is the service God has called us to. I don’t say this to excuse lazy or immature Christians, but I think it is true.

    • says

      spiritual gifts are clearly for the building up of the church (church as people…not programs or properties)-1 Cor. 12. But that doesn’t mean that they are only for use at scheduled church events and at the building the church meets at. Most churches, IMHO, have far too much scheduled. and it’s probably because “justification by busy-ness” is a common Evangelical dogma.

    • cb scott says

      For most of two days now, I have sat with a family who has lost their Mother. I have not done much other than drink New Orleans coffee that I took to their Mother’s former home where they are all gathered and told them stories of my misspent younger years and how God granted me mercy on many and various occasions before He saved my soul.

      They also know that my wife is in a hospital bed where she has been since June 29. They also know that my wife is the one who insisted that I leave her and go to their house to be with them. Otherwise, I would not have left her side. That has been my wife’s ministry to that family for the last two days. She sent me with two pounds of coffee, a “life full of old bear tales” and my personal testimony.

      When I left that family tonight, the oldest brother (about my age) told me to thank my wife for “sending me over.”

      • SSBN says

        Dear Lord, I don’t know CB or his wife. But they are brother and sister and if they are hurting I am hurting. Please bless CB’s wife in whatever way You choose. Remind them that You love them as only You can. Bring people alongside to bless them. We thank you for Your Love and Mercy. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

        • cb scott says

          Thank you for your prayer SSBN. God is faithful. He is doing wonderful things even now in our lives.

  15. Karen in OK says

    I appreciate the tenor of this post and thread.
    Over the years, I have read many articles about how churches should pressure their pastors less.
    Yet some pastors feel overburdened by the demands of their congregations while not realizing the demands and expectations they themselves place upon members.
    Lots of church activities, mission trips, and programs would not get done without church members giving up their days off and vacation time, while the pastor goes on the mission trip with them, but then, they go back to work, and he takes a few days off.
    In my own church, 3 out of 4 Saturdays this month involve significant commitments of time from the members for various projects. There is nothing really unusual about this pace.
    And the people involved do it well and joyfully.
    But it would be hard for them to understand, when many of them have worked 60 hours and commuted, a pastor who would expect them to do these things and yet perhaps respects their time less than his own.
    Mutual respect here is key. The pastor should not have extreme expectations of the members, either.

    • cb scott says

      Karen,

      Pastors and members alike must remember the Great Commission is our mandate. We are all called to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Jesus in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Sometimes we are going to be tired. Sometimes we are going to be sick and sometimes we just simply don’t want to go, but go we must. For we no longer belong to ourselves, but to Christ.

      If we recognize we do not belong to ourselves, but to Christ, then we will expect each other to only do that which glorifies God among us as we carry out the Great Commission. Useless trips, programs and activities will give place to the obedience of the will of Christ.

      Dead programs and activities are frustrating both pastors and congregants and causing problems in the families of both.

    • SSBN says

      QUOTE Lots of church activities, mission trips, and programs would not get done without church members giving up their days off and vacation time, while the pastor goes on the mission trip with them, but then, they go back to work, and he takes a few days off. END QUOTE

      Not wanting to be disagreeable, I have to disagree somewhat. When a member goes on a mission trip, they leave their work behind. When a pastor goes, he’s still the pastor. For example: on one mission trip one of the team member’s father died. I had the same responsibilities I would have had back in the States — helping get him back, minister to his broken heart, etc.

      So, it is always different with a pastor.

      QUOTE and yet perhaps respects their time less than his own. END QUOTE Again, I think this could lead others reading it to conclude this is a widespread problem. 32 years of ministry tells me it is not.

      What I guess I am saying is this: pastor is not what we do, it is who we are. There’s no other calling in the world I know of that is as deep and involved as that of the pastor. I say this as someone who has been on both sides of that aisle — having run my own business as well as being a full time pastor.

      There is no such thing as a pastor who works 40, 60, 70 hours. It is 24/7 365 days a year. That’s just how it is.

  16. says

    In the midst of all the crass and quarrelsome blogging that goes on, our Anon Pastor’s approach here might be a great way to productive and encouraging blogging.

    One of us anonymously describes a situation in their ministry and then we talk about it – give advice, tell our own stories, talk things over.

    • Bill Mac says

      Dave: I almost posted last night on what a refreshing dialogue this has been, but I didn’t want to jinx it.

    • says

      I think it was good because Anon Pastor came on in humility and asked for help and advice. I think that makes for a better discussion.

      I just hope it doesn’t disintegrate from here.

  17. says

    I’m not in “The Ministry” but I do have some opinions about this.

    God has given each of us certain gifts, the purpose of which is building up the body of Christ. And the parable of the talents paints a pretty sad picture of those who fail to use those gifts.

    That applies across the entire congregation of believers, not just to the pastor and his family, and a congregation of lazy disobedient believers has huge problems, regardless of the pastor’s wife and/or kids’ involvement in the church.

    The same standards of bringing “that which every joint supplies” to the table in the church ought to be the same for the average folks in the pew, as for the pastor’s family.

    • Christiane says

      ” I’m not in “The Ministry” . . . . ”

      Bob, you are most definitely ‘in the ministry’ in the ways that REALLY matter in the Church we call ‘ the Ekklesia’.

  18. William says

    With three grown kids and most of their lives being lived in pastoriums, I don’t have many complaints about church/family issues. Almost always church folks were very considerate, kind, and generous to all of us. I could count on one hand the times I had to do an, uh, intervention that concerned some church member’s treatment of my family.

    That said, I hear all the war stories and not a few horror stories and have sympathy.

    • SSBN says

      William,

      I’d just like to add to what you said, that it only takes “one” incident to do a lot of damage. I, too, have been generally blessed by most church folk. It is the few, that really hurt my family.

      I agree, I don’t think all church folk are mean or nasty — far from it.

  19. Matt Parker says

    As a pastor, I will weigh in. A wise ole bird once told me that my wife’s number one duty, as a pastor’s wife, is to keep the pastor’s family going, including him. We all know that pastoral ministry is tough, very tough. I am bivoactional and have been full time in the past. Both are grueling. Late night calls, after church counseling, kids get pushed aside, etc. etc. Let me just point out one common thread here that disturbs me regarding evangelical leadership in general … the pastor as a ‘job” … a career path. That is one place we really got off woring a long time ago.

    Now, don’t read into this that I don’t think compensation is appropriate, but when we start putting extrabibilical “job descriptions” together, then we get into a demand/performance role, not a service oriented, leadership role. In Scripture, pastors are gifts, people who use their gifting for the edification of the flock.

    I think it is the pastor’s role, not the church’s, to decide what level of involvement his wife has, so long as she is meeting the requirements of “and their wive’s also” found in scripture. These, incidentally, are requirements of all Christians, so in that sense, the elder’s / leaders and thier wives must needs be exemplifying the life of Jesus Followers, not just professors. If that is happening, then the church should back off.

    My wife has limited involvement many times, often due to lack of ability to commit long term to anything because of our special needs daughter who requires enormous amounts of attention due to health issues. I have had some folks slam her for that in gossip circles and I told them from the pulpit to back off, or Matthew 18 was coming. I prayed later about my lack of grace, but it got the point accross.

    Her responsibility is to her husband, and he dicatates how that goes into body life .. period.

    My two cents.

    • SSBN says

      QUOTE I told them from the pulpit to back off, or Matthew 18 was coming END QUOTE

      Thanks for acknowledging that this is not how “Matthew 18″ should work. I do understand your frustration.

      In regard to the pulpit: in my opinion we should not allow this sacred time to become a “bully pulpit.” I’ve made that mistake. It never seems to work out very well.

      We (pastors) will never be able to fully protect our families from the evils that may befall them as the “pastor’s family.” But, if we can generate a healthy, biblical atmosphere of caring and concern for others throughout the church, it will help a great deal.

      I’m at the end of my child-rearing phase as a pastor, and I must confess, it is the part of my responsibilities I did not do as well with as I would have liked. I “assumed” things were fine, when in fact, they were not. But, like every other aspect of a believer’s life — God’s grace is greater than all our sin.

  20. Bill Mac says

    The problem with addressing Anon’s issue is that we don’t know all the particulars of his situation. He is no doubt trying to address it to the best of his ability, which I appreciate.

    I am still troubled by the idea of some type of extra-biblical “expectation” for the wife and/or child of an elder. It seems to me there is a concern for this man’s efficacy in ministry based upon “how it looks” to have a wife who isn’t in an area of service.

    From what we know, she is a faithful attender of worship services. Is there a sense that she is sinning in her apparent lack of service? If so, how so? And if not, what is the problem? It may be that she isn’t the problem that needs to be addressed, but rather those with unrealistic expectations.

    • Anon Pastor says

      I am not naive enough to think that I could (or need to) cover all of the particulars of this case in a blog comment stream. Let me assure you that my concern is not for “how it looks” but rather “how it is.”

      I am also not so proud to admit that my expectations may be unreasonable or unrealistic. I will restate my expectations: that she be a faithful attender in Sunday morning worship and some form of small group Bible study (whether that be Sunday School, women’s Bible Study, Sunday night Bible Study, or Wednesday night prayer meeting…all of which have more of a “teaching” feel with interaction, as opposed to Sunday mornings), and that she find some place of service to the body of the church (which could take the form of teaching Sunday School, helping with children’s ministry, helping with student ministry, helping decorate for special events, serving on a ministry team, helping prepare food for funerals, making calls/sending cards to absentees and homebound, stuffing envelopes or attaching labels to church mailouts, or ANYTHING else she wants to do). For what it’s worth, I unashamedly profess this same expectation to the church as a whole. My desire is that EVERY member do these things.

      Also, I wanted to let those who have been a part of this conversation and have offered their counsel that I had a 2 hour conversation with this staff member yesterday and addressed my concerns. He took my concerns extremely well and even shares most of them. Hopefully, we are making progress. Please continue to pray.

      • Bill Mac says

        Anon: As I said, I appreciate what you are going through. Please don’t take everything I (or anyone) is saying as criticism per se. Often an issue like this simply gives us an open forum to discuss issues without necessarily referencing your situation.

        That said, I think there may be a disconnect in what you say your expectations are for this woman and what you desire for the whole church. Would you, for example, take 2 hours to hash this out with the spouse of every member of your church you think is failing to live up to this expectation? I get the sense that this is troubling you more because this woman is the spouse of a staff member. Secondly, why can you not talk to this woman directly? You are her pastor. I understand you want to avoid private meetings with members of the opposite sex, but I think you may be doing a disservice to her by trying to resolve this through her husband. You could meet with both of them.

        Lastly, why not ask her to serve is a specific ministry that has a need? Bottom line: If she doesn’t feel ready to serve, for whatever reason, then I think you should let it go.

        Just keep in mind the relative value of blog advice. ;)

          • Anon Pastor says

            Bill Mac,

            Thanks for the reminder. I really am not feeling criticized. I am appreciative of the time and energy that people have put into offering counsel.

            As far as meeting with the couple together, her husband indicates that she might react strongly to this, as though being called into the principal’s office. Also, my conviction is that this man needs to learn how to lead his family, so my conversations have been as much for his benefit as hers. In the end, however, if he will not lead, I may have no choice.

            As far as my expectations for her vs. the church in general, I do feel that the spouse/families of leadership need to set the example. As someone mentioned earlier in the thread, they may not need to do more, but they may need to do it first. I have no problem with this line of thinking. Again, I may be unreasonable in that, and I am willing to be corrected.

            And I have always preferred letting people decide what their gifting and aptitude pulls them toward, rather than assigning them a particular area.

            At this point I am going to allow my conversation with my staff member to sink in. I am going to give him the opportunity to lead. If, in time, there is no change, I will go from there.

            Thanks again, everyone, for your input.

      • bill says

        Leave it at attendance.

        Spouses of those in the ministry have to care for the person in the ministry. Let them decide for themselves to give of their time and talents as they see fit. Again, you tread dangerous ground when you force people to serve in areas or programs where they either don’t want to serve or aren’t called to serve. God just may have provided a wife that is understanding in that her husband is gone a few nights a week and that could be a strong anchor for your staff member to cling to as he serves God and your church.

        • Anon Pastor says

          bill,

          Thanks for your input. Not sure I agree, but I appreciate your willingness to provide counsel.

          • bill says

            Thank you for listening. I may be caustic in my commentary from time to time, but this is an issue which I think needs to be addressed in our churches.

            I have come to believe that families of ministers need just as much downtime and time to be a family as the families of laity. I think a strong familial support structure is the foremost thing that a minister needs in his/her life and ministry. I also think that modeling “family first” is the best model that any minister can put forth in this day and age with all the potential distractions that are out there in the world.

            And yes, I think that church, or more importantly the business of the church, can eventually become one of those distractions to a family.

            Do you force your staff members to use their vacation days? You may want to consider giving each staff member a revolving week in the summer where they’re off for seven straight days and admonished to spend it with their families.

            I really think that you’d see a difference there.

        • SSBN says

          Bill, that is a good word. If people knew how much trouble it is for my wife just to keep me headed in the right direction with enough fuel and energy to get though the day, church folk would never ask her to do anything.

          In fact, they may start proceedings for her sainthood :)

          It really is a full-time ministry just for a pastor’s wife to love the pastor full-time.

          • says

            SSBN, I think Beatification is the word you are looking for, though I am certain you and I would have completely different lists, most likely mutually exclusive for who besides your Wife and My Mother should be nominated for the process.

  21. says

    Women in the church aren’t saints and can make life very difficult for the pastor’s wife if a clique is jealous of her looks or her gifts or the promise of her children.
    On the other hand women across the spectrum of conservative to more progressive can do some serious thinking and break the bounds of what is often considered their circumscription.
    Susan Shaw who grew up in Jerry Vines West Rome Baptist does a great job surveying Baptist women in her book about her Mother’s Sunday School class.
    How many of you are familiar with that book.
    And this notion of the neck that turns the Head in James Ault’s work a few years ago has always fascinated me.
    Some women are saints and some really are like Jezebel in the OT and God help the preacher and his family who crosses one of them

    Quote from review of Ault

    Ault also takes on stereotypes about the subjugation of women in fundamentalist circles, and finds, to his surprise, that women in many respects rule the roost at Shawmut River. They make up the majority of the congregation (as they do in virtually every other American religious group). And though they adhere, at least in theory, to a stark division between the sexes, they use those sharp distinctions to their advantage. If the husband is, as St. Paul said, the head of the wife, the wife is, as Valenti’s spouse, Sharon, puts it, ”the neck that turns the head.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/05/books/review/05PROTHER.html?_r=1&8bl=&pagewanted=print&position=

  22. says

    What would you do if you were a Senior pastor, any of you, or a member of a church where the wife of a staffer announced to a member of the church she had been called to preach; or the pastor’s daughter had the call.
    How would you handle that in the greater family of the church?

    • bill says

      If my daughters (I have two) felt that they had a call to preach, I would encourage that gifting and that calling. I would encourage them to study under our pastor and heed his advice and calling. I would also encourage them to recognize that there are those who do not believe that a woman should be allowed to preach or teach and that there are those who believe that it is not such a big deal.

      I would share with them what I believe and I would show them the verses that complimentarians share in this debate and then I would share the verses that egalitarians share in this debate. I would strongly encourage them to read books written by scholars on both sides of the debate while tempering it all back to the scriptures.

      I would pray for them ceaselessly.

      I would also encourage them to decide this debate for themselves because though I consider myself a conservative in all the major prevailing doctrines put forth by the Southern Baptist Convention, I consider myself an egalitarian at this moment based on all the books that I’ve read on both sides of this debate and through my own study of the scriptures. I would freely admit to my daughters that I may be wrong to be egalitarian but that it is not a heaven or hell issue to me.

      I would also encourage them to use their gifts wisely and admonish them to not just jump to the first denomination that will listen to them preach. I would hope that they will do as I have done and find the denominational tradition which I believe has the soundest primary doctrines.

  23. says

    Well Stephen,

    As a complementarian, the issue isn’t preaching, it’s to whom and in what capacity. I would certainly celebrate any female who felt called to preach to other women similar to those like Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, or Nancy Leigh DeMoss. And I would be delighted to see many women called to be Evangelists. I think the vast majority of complementarians would say the same thing.

  24. Jeff T says

    Once again Fox is going to turn this into a chance to educate us on how evil the CR is. I urge everyone to not bite. I refuse to discuss anything with him because no matter what is posted on this site, he is going to hijack the post. I urge the moderators to do something about him.

      • says

        I tend to agree with Bill (lol). AT same time I appreciate the bite/response by Randle. In some ways Randle’s response helps me understand how Timothy George navigated Anne Graham Lotz preaching at Samford.
        There have been several interesting stories in this thread. Things got dicey for my Mother along the way as a Minister’s wife; but I’m not inclined to go through them once again. To say the least it took women way off the pedestal for me, to see them as the fallen creatures they are, like the rest of us.
        At same time many delightful, virtuous and gifted women out there for every position in church life.

    • says

      You know, if you look at who in the thread first hijacks it to all of a sudden be about the CR, it’s never the pro-CR side. It’s not even most of the anti-CR side. It’s one particular anti-CR troll.

      Of course, I totally understand that I could be banned at any time so this offer doesn’t really mean much, but I’d gladly welcome a lifetime ban from SBC Voices if it meant that one particluar poster was perma-banned as well. Let him continue to blather away on Baptist Life forum with the other moderates.

  25. cb scott says

    I think we can avoid a lot of trouble (not all, for that is impossible in a local church, especially if you have a long tenure) for our wives and children if we: first, share with the search committee the parameters of the church’s relationship to our family; second, if we then rehearse the exact same parameters with the entire church the first “Sunday morning” we begin to serve as pastor; third, maintain the parameters of the church’s relationship to our wives and children the entire time we serve the church without compromise (1 Timothy 5:8)

    • David Miller says

      See, its true. The older guys have LOTS of wisdom!!

      Seriously, that is exactly right, CB.

      • cb scott says

        Thank you Dave.

        From what I understand, your gang is functioning well having grown up in a pastor’s home and being the grandchildren of a pastor.

  26. says

    CB: That is a good thought but not practical.
    First the first sunday should be about something else.
    Maybe the 2nd week of the second month at the new church meet with a committee of deacons and have the women select three women and meet with them andlet them know your boundaries for your family; and pray to God you get a good committee; and then meet with them every seven months or so.
    Maybe say something in the church newsletter about every member of the family and their interests with strong articulate statement about their privacy and your expectations in that regard.
    It is always tricky.
    As it turned out for me, after a 16 year dramatic experience in the place I got my public schooling, two weeks after my Dad left town for a new church, I had a memorable conversation with the Fire Chief and a couple of his mainstays at the FireHall downtown about my Dad’s stay in the town.
    The stuff of a good novel.
    Somehow or another no matter what savvy you bring to the situation it always turns out like that. I’ve heard too many preacher’s children’s stories to ever believe otherwise.
    As the blackpreacher told Will Campbell in Nashville when he was about to place his child in a difficult situation and Campbell was pleading with him not to do it: I hope the thicket is dense andthe Rams Horns are long.
    You know your OldTestament well enough to know exactly what I am talking about.
    Amen

    • cb scott says

      Steve,

      It worked well for me. My grown sons are not in any way emotionally scared, they love Jesus, love their Momma, still think their daddy is God’s servant and a man’s man, they all graduated from the college or university of their choice, married well, their children are fine and not dysfunctional, they provide well for their families, they still keep in contact with people they grew up with in the church and with whom they went to school.

      When God gave us the four children we have here, I made basically the same speech. These children are following the course their older brothers have taken.

      I don’t know anything about your personal journey, but I suspect that had I been your daddy, it would have been different. I would have taught you the “Four Strongs” and made a man out of you. :-)

  27. says

    Interesting article Steven – though not sure what it has to do with the current post. I didn’t know Laura (though I know about her from many friends) – she came after me at Union, but I took Dr. Jackson’s courses as well, and she is certainly right about him (he was also a pretty good basketball player). I think she would agree with me that schools like Union and Southern are quite challenging intellectually, even though many moderates and liberals disagree. You don’t get to be the #2-3 academically ranked school in TN behind just Vandy and (sometimes) Rhodes by being weak. And anyone who has ever taken classes at Southern knows you have to be ready to read, read, read if you plan to pass even 9 hours (a full load there) of classes. And as she noted there are plenty of folks at both places (and many other SBC institutions) who can both love deeply and disagree vehemently with those of moderate to liberal stances.

  28. says

    Thanks for the Reply, Rundle. Small thing but my name is spelled Stephen with a ph.
    At Union I think Dockery is BWA Friendly, but I could have him mistaken for Timothy George. Don’t want to get too far afield; but hoping maybe Dockery will engage the Dietrich Bonhoeffer conversation in regard the Barmen Declaration as interpretted by Timothy Georgewhen the Marsh bio of DB is published next year.
    But as Jeff T will tell us soon, that is a topic for another time.
    Oh, BTW, the comments on Laura’s testimony at ABP are quite interesting.

  29. cb scott says

    I think another thing that is helpful to rear well adjusted children in the pastoral fish bowl is to do things with your children that may or may not involve other children from the congregation of which you serve as pastor.

    Our children are usually involved in the church’s children’s or youth ministry activities. Most conscientious pastors try to involve themselves with children and youth in some way, be it VBS, GAs, RAs, AWANA, Children’s Camp, Youth Camp, Camping, etc. Normally, our children are involved in one or more of those things. Since the purpose of the pastor being involved in those things is to minister to, evangelize and disciple the children and youth of the church as a whole. Therefore, it might become necessary to treat your own children as “equals” with the other children or youth during those times of involvement, especially if your children’s or youth ministry is large in numbers.

    Therefore, it is important to involve yourself in some activities outside the church with your own children just as a “dad” and not so much as the pastor of “Gonna Win ‘Em All Baptist Church.” (although there is never a time in our lives that we are not Ambassadors of Christ in our culture and community.)

    Get involved with your own children in sports, the arts, travel, school, or anything of which they show an initial interest. Make time for them away from church and show the same enthusiasm about those activities as you do about activities with he church. (Do not take your sermon notebook to your child’s baseball game or dance recital. And stay off the cell phone unless you are using it to take pictures of your kids!!!

    • says

      You make some good points, there CB, especially the one about Cell phones. They are a convenience but along with play station and facebook, and text messaging, they are a threat to relationships masking as an aid.
      At same time with all your best intentions, as you well know and others have testified on this board; things happen

      http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/5430/9/

      Lovette’s time at BCOC and it’s history with FBC Bham crystallized in the Earl Stallings tenure is fascinating capsule of ebb and flow of congregational treatment of pastors.

      • cb scott says

        Steve,

        There is no way a pastor’s family can escape suffering in some manner, especially if the pastor is a truly God called man of God committed to doing what he has been called to do. In Acts 9:16 we see that God intended Paul to suffer. We are told in Scripture to expect suffering. Suffering is an inescapable part of Kingdom service.

        Therefore, it is imperative for a pastor to prepare his family for the suffering that is bound to come as best he possibly can. It is also necessary to allow our children to suffer in order for them to understand the cost of taking up the cross and following Jesus. Naturally, we cannot possibly be prepared for some of the suffering that will come our way. I believe that God intends that also to make us more like Christ. Everything that happens in our lives happens with God’s full knowledge. Nothing catches Him by surprise. He knows what we shall go through when He calls us to His service as he did in Paul’s case. Yet, as He said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient.”

        And it is. This I have learned.

        All we can do is be obediently faithful to the call, build strong children and trust the Father, no matter what. And just let the devil take the hindmost parts with the rest of it.

  30. Bill Mac says

    One of the best things to happen in our church (and this was not a planned effort) was a gradual move away from tons of programs (a mistake for a tiny church anyway) and towards more community service. In particular, many of our ladies began to volunteer as aides in the local elementary school, and we began to volunteer as substitute teachers, scoutmasters, little league coaches, etc. We had become very insular. I can’t tell you what this did for our church’s standing in the community. Suddenly we weren’t the mysterious fundamentalists who rolled in the aisle on Sundays in the church on the edge of town. We got into the rotation for the annual baccalaureate service. Our elders were called in to do grief counseling when a student death occurred (along with other clergy).
    We wanted to be a light to the community, but until this all started to happen, we weren’t part of the community, and they knew it. For several years our Jewish elementary principal gladly gave us permission to use the elementary school for Vacation Bible School. This was not an intentional ministry, but it was ministry nonetheless. This is why I advise caution and clarity with expectations for service. All Christians are expected to serve. But that service may take a far different form than what we expect.

    • says

      Bill, in Iowa, people have tended to view us as Southern Baptists as snake handlers and such (only a small exaggeration). But when Baptist disaster relief ministered so faithfully here in 1993 during the Great Flood, we gained denominational credibility. Really a good thing.

      World Changers has been the same way in Sioux City – until they decided to jerk that program around and steal the heart from it (sorry- working out some issues).

      • SSBN says

        Dave, if the people would just count your fingers, they would no you are not snake handlers if you have full compliment :) I’m speaking as one who was born and raised in the hills of WVa.

        • says

          SSBN:
          Lee Smith from near those parts has great novel Saving Grace that goes through Snake Handling episodes near Newport, Tn. There was a movie of the same title but this is a different story.
          And then there is Dennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mtn which made a big splash about 15 years ago. The Covington family’s story was some drama in Baptist circles for a while.
          In the next couple years if you can make time for both books I think you will find it time well spent.
          I think Bill Leonard quipped on occasion to his students at Southern Seminary and later Wake Forest; if you take the Bible literally, then tell us about the time you took up serpents.
          Kinda one of those put up or shut up moments JoeB and Volfan Doubleknot 7 relish so.

          • says

            Stephen, you are confusing literal hermeneutics with bad hermeneutics – which you employed. Please join the conversation on this blog post or stop commenting.

          • says

            DAve Miller, you have bad manners or are inhospitable or you can’t follow a thread, one or all of the three.
            SSBN made a comment about snake handling and I graciously recommended two booksfor his consideration and a remark from Bill Leonard that goes to the heart of what is uppermost on the minds of most folks who comment here.
            If Christiane or Bill Mac or some other neutral observer finds me grossly at fault, then I will reconsider your invitation to exit the building.
            Notice that does not include Joe B, VolFan or Jeff T.

          • says

            All that may be true, but your slam at Vol and the others had nothing to do with my comment about being a Baptist in Iowa. Just because I mentioned snake handling does not give you an excuse to insult other people.

            Had you confined your remark to snake handling, I would not have said anything. But I will renew my call. Address the theme of the post or other comments or stop.

          • SSBN says

            Stephen, I grew up in a part of the country that would be quite strange to some people. Even the snakes thought some of the people were weird.

            But, a literal interpretation of Mark 16 (a disputed passage) does not mandate nor support the religion of snake handlers.

            You might want to check out Acts 28:5 for a literal fulfillment of Mark’s literal truth. It is really hard for some Baptists to believe in the miraculous. The Bible is a supernatural power that many handle with contempt to their own hurt.

            As a boy I handled more than my share of copperheads — I usually dispatched them to the nether world with a sharp hoe or shovel — I don’t know if that made me a “conservative snake handler, or a moderate” :)

        • says

          I was responding to SSBN’s roots in WVa and how Newport Tn where my roots are is noted in a major American novel that has strong motif of snake handling in it.
          You should get to know Lee Smith and her husband Hal Crowther.
          For one thing she is a contributor with Oprah, Tom Brokaw, Pulitzer’s Dianne McWhorter and several other books at http://www.marymurphy.net on the 50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird.
          In Fact, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure she is a graduate of the famous writer’s school at the U of Iowa; if you need an Iowa connection.
          A parting shot for this note to you and JoeB; I’ve met several Atticus Finch’s in the flesh, and neither of you are an Atticus Finch.

  31. Jeff T says

    Bill Mac, You have made some good points. This is what we are trying to do at the church I serve. We are blessed to have an elementary school across the street. They share our parking lot. We do several things to be of service to them. For instance, we pass out water on the first day of school when parents are waiting to pick up their children. Our youth are busy clearing a lot in a needy part of town and using it as an opportunity to express love to that neighbor and to share the Gospel.

  32. says

    Bill Mac mentioned his ecumenical work with a Jewish elementary school principal near his church. Mike Shaw, one of the better SBC pastors in Alabama has cordial relations with RAbbi Miller.
    I had the great fortune to be in the room when Miller and Shaw and the conscience of the state, Wayne Flynt were on panel at Samford Jan 24, 2006. I think Artur DAvis was there; I met him on one occasion at a panel in the same location, where I first met Billy Graham’s grandson Stephen Tchvidjian in 94 or so.
    But I digress.
    I would hope Bill Mac in particular and some of you others could come to a convivial bond with the likes of RAbbi Miller, as well as have a similar bent on politics as this column picked up today by ed.com:

    http://www.ethicsdaily.com/news.php?viewStory=16508

    • cb scott says

      Steve,

      You grew up in a Baptist pastor’s home. Is there anything of a personal nature that you would be willing to share here as to how your family coped with the life you all led back in those formative years of your life?

      • says

        No; I thought about writing a book and I may still. I have collaborated on a screenplay with a friend, not necessarily about me, but there is a strong scene where my DAd is preaching one of his best sermons sparked by Revivals I remember before I was ten.
        Sorry to let you down, but it was not so much how they coped with my life, as it was how we all coped thrown in circumstances that in some ways were reflection on a smaller scale of what Earl Stallings faced in Birmingham.
        Most recently it would be inflected by things I learned from the movie Winter’s Bone, and reviews of it.
        I’ve talked several aspects of it over with my brother and sister; and as it is even with the Synoptic Gospels, our memories of the same events have different inflections and nuances.
        I did interview our friend Ron Rash back in January. I may get that interview to you in time.
        Speaking of coping to take it to another place. Our Friend Mark Baggett said Judge Pressler’s definition of cooperation was: I’ll operate and you cope.
        While waiting on my memoir, read the portions of family life in Tim Tyson’s great work Blood Done Sign my Name. And see the movie.
        I saw itearlier this year; and got an autographed copy of the book from Tyson three years ago.

        • says

          Quick followup, CB.
          Didn’t mean to be cold in my reply. I appreciate your concern.
          President W 43 is having a good time at the Rangers game tonight sitting with new owner, Nolan Ryan. Laura looks a little bored but
          W and Nolan are chattin away.
          Havin fun watchin that.

          • says

            Actually Brandon, the meeting with Vines was outside GAdsden, Al when he was holding Revival rallies campaigning for the vote in San Antonio.
            So get the laugh you deserve.
            And ftr the record he was kind, smiled but notmuch response to my question which I now forget.
            But a lot of folks at the church remember well.
            Some of them are my friends.
            Every Title has a story.

            Like Criswell, Vines can tell great Preacher jokes.

          • says

            The Russell Dilay incident was in the Halls in San Antonio.

            I asked Dr. Dilday a Question and Ms. Russell asked me If I was saved.
            So If I go the Didlay route for the Title; well then you can imagine the title.
            You won’t believemy answer so I will let CB Scot call John Killian and report the his testification in my defense.

        • cb scott says

          Steve,

          I did not ask you How “your family” coped with “your” life.

          I asked you if you would share something of how “your family” coped with the life “you all” (notice the word “all”) led back in those formative years of your life?

          There was no implication that they had to “cope” with your life specifically.

          It was an honest question. No more, no less.

          You need not always be defensive, Steve and there is not always a demon behind every bush.

  33. Jeff T says

    Good job on witnessing to the Jews! We should reach out to the lost who do not know Jesus. When we can work with the lost to help our community and to help share the Gospel with them.

  34. SSBN says

    I was just thinking: is there a regional component to how church members treat a pastor and his family? For example, California versus South Carolina?

    Or a size component? Say, a church of 50 versus a church of 250?

    • cb scott says

      SSBN,

      I posted an earlier comment that relates to your question somewhat. I will repost it here just for the sake of conversation:

      “We found that a church with a regular attendance of 200-300 was the hardest for my wife to cope with as far as “being the pastor’s wife.” The reason was that it seemed that every lady in the church wanted to have a “personal” relationship with my wife. We found that some jealousies broke out among the ladies when they began to compare notes as to who was spending the most time with my wife.

      Karen, said her life was much easier when we were in a larger church with a bigger staff. The women of the church in the larger church were not as “needy” of the my wife’s attention.”

  35. says

    David or Matt

    I’m curious, is there a trend where one particular poster is the first to post about the CR in any comment thread regardless of the topic? I didn’t know if it was a different person on each thread who started it or if it was the same person. I know a lot of people chime in and add to the thread jack but I didn’t know if it was the same person starting the train down the wrong track everytime.

    • says

      Above Brandon suggested a title for my Life’s Story. While they are waiting for my memoir to be published, they may want to consider the following linked collection, which I imagine tells the story of many others on this board.
      I’m surprised many of you aren’t already aware as it has been around for some time.
      Have a sense of humor as you read about yourselves; and I am there too, I concede, on a page or two.

      http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780156028585

  36. says

    To all,
    I’m glad to read any discussion you guys have related to my original post, but this isn’t a post about CR stuff so if you want to continue having that conversation, find somewhere else.