Did you know that 33% of pastors reported that their children over the age of 15 have left the church? Also, 42% of pastors of grown children wish they had spent more time with their children when they were younger.¹
Many people don’t realize how stressful pastoral ministry is for the entire family. It is a unique life/calling/career/vocation. There are really positive things about pastoral ministry (opportunities to know and help many people) and many negatives as well (the pastor is always on call, works every weekend, and most holidays). Being “on-call” every day as a solo pastor is very draining on a family. Many pastors’ kids (PK’s) are treated unfairly. Thom Rainer has a couple good blog posts about this. Seven Things Pastors Would Like Church Members to Know about Their Children and Seven Things We Learned from Pastors’ Kids.
Jenny and I love pastoring Covenant Church! There are some things that cannot be changed, such as working every weekend. It is a real challenge for me to “disconnect” from wearing the pastor hat to solely wearing the daddy hat. I work very hard to complete Sunday’s message by Tuesday evening and carefully plan events, meetings, and appointments to not fall on Fridays. Very rarely, I will have a wedding rehearsal, church emergency, or hospital visit on Fridays. I decided to purposefully take one day off every week – Friday. It is a day that I focus on my most important ministry – my family. We like to call it Family Fun Friday.
Since we homeschool, our Fridays are more flexible. So what does a Family Fun Friday look like? Our family really likes good food, so we usually eat lunch at a nice restaurant. Friday lunch crowds are typically light and lunch prices are always better. Most of the time it is just me and the girls (my wife and two daughters)… and I love it! Some weeks we include nieces and nephews to add to the adventure. Lilly and Hannah love their cousins! Our special Family Fun Fridays have priority in our budget and our calendar. We try to plan ahead, but sometimes we are spontaneous. Like many girls, mine love to shop. Each week we try to change up the places we go so it is actually “fun.”
Of course, living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, there are many places for adventures like the zoo, aquarium, caves, museums, parks, mountains, the river, and more. We are only a couple hours from Nashville, Atlanta, Knoxville, and Pigeon Forge. In the summer time, my in-laws have a nice in ground pool, which all of us love. We’ve been doing Family Fun Fridays for a few years now and it is great! The girls are still young (6 and 3), so we aren’t usually out too late. This works out well for me so I can practice sabbath rest on Saturdays so my body, voice, mind, and spirit are refreshed when I preach on Sunday morning.
Through the daily practice of our Christian faith and intentional close relationships, I am trying my hardest to be the best dad I can be. My family is my most important ministry. I typically spend about 50 hours a week on local church ministry… and I love it. But Friday is for family and fun… and I love it.
¹ https://www.barna.org/barna-update/family-kids/644-prodigal-pastor-kids-fact-or-fiction#.VxroHPkrLIU Retrieved April 22, 2016.