How To Keep Pastors Kids In The Church

August 13, 2014 — 3 Comments
photo: Joris Louwes, Creative Commons

photo: Joris Louwes, Creative Commons


{Today’s guest post comes from my friend Rob Ketterling, Lead Pastor of River Valley Church in Minnesota.}

Being a pastor myself, I have such a passion for pastor’s kids. It’s such a unique way to grow up—complete with unique pressures, unique benefits, and unique challenges. Just like most things in life, it can either be a wonderful way to grow up, or a terrible way to grow up, and I’m pushing for the wonderful.

It is my goal to see every single PK (pastors kid) in heaven, and it breaks my heart how many end up leaving the church.

Being a pastor and having kids, I’ve learned some tricks along the way for how to take care of my own kids, and the other PKs in our church. And I’m excited to be able to share them with you today.

Here are some practical ways to care for the PKs in your church (whether they’re your own or another pastor’s):

1) Give them something to look forward to 

This is something I try to do once a quarter. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Believe me, my kids don’t expect a cruise to Hawaii four times a year. But it’s a little something to keep them going when life feels tough.

I think we all could use a little more of this.

Some things that have worked in our family are visits to grandma and grandpa’s house, or a surprise trip to Chuck E Cheese. Every now and then it’s something extravagant, like the trip of a lifetime to Dubai. But whatever it is, we love to give our kids something to look forward to.

2) Never talk about the ugly side of ministry in front of them

Just like any other job, ministry can be hard. There are interpersonal conflicts, just like any other field or relationship, and it’s not always fun. As adults, we understand this. Even the children’s pastor isn’t perfect all the time. We’re human, we’re flawed, and so is our church. We understand that.

But for kids, that concept is harder to understand. The kids don’t need to know when we have a disagreement with someone they look up to. They don’t need to hear the details of budget cuts or someone getting let go. They don’t have the perspective or understanding to process big changes or disagreements, especially when they involve people they love.

We don’t vent with our kids, and we keep complaining around them to a minimum. Instead we celebrate wins, and share hard times with them strategically and carefully. We try to remember how much our words about the church, and the things they see when we’re not being careful, affect their understanding of God and the place where His people gather.

3) Never pressure them into ministry 

When you love something, it’s tempting to want your kids to love it too.

But if you have ever been pressured into something, you know how much joy is zapped from something when you didn’t choose it yourself.

Instead of pressuring our kids into ministry, we try to encourage them to find their own gifts and callings. We want them to do what they’re passionate about, what God uniquely called them to do—not just follow in our footsteps.

4) Help them dream big

Each quarter, we have a dinner with all the pastors, their spouses, and every PK is invited. I started a tradition where, during that dinner, I give each PK a coin from somewhere I’ve been around the world. They think it’s so cool!

I do it because I want to open up conversations about what exists beyond our country. I want them to start dreaming of the places they could go, of the countries God could call them to.

5) Show them they’re valued

As a kid, especially the kid of a pastor, it’s easy to feel like you don’t matter. It’s easy to feel like you’re in the way, or shoved to the side, or just there because your parents were invited.

I try to get to know our PKs individually and to make each one of them feel special.

For every one of their birthdays, I write them a handwritten card that includes a gift card to Target. They can take that gift card and pick out their very own toy. I want them to know their birthday matters to me, and that I notice them. I want them to feel like an important member of our church body. Because they are!


Growing up as a pastor’s kid isn’t easy. It’s full of unique challenges and struggles those kids didn’t choose for themselves. With so many pastors kids leaving the church as they grow older, it’s so important that we take the time to see them and minister to them directly.

How can you serve your church’s PKs this week?

3 responses to How To Keep Pastors Kids In The Church

  1. This is something I will be working on, like the ideas/suggestions!

  2. Very true. But PK still have a different life than MK , a whole different set of things come into play when your kids are Travelling and live on the road or in far off missionfields. Especially when it concerns revivals …and much is explained to a child we found the more they become equeinted and come to know the Holy Spirit and how He moves in people’s lives in the services. When they see rebellion, they will not take it personally, but a person manifesting being bound by the enemy, not a person angry with dad. They do see the good and the ugly but if you show them the plus line of God’s Word and the leaning on the Holy Spirit ,they copy after your example and they walk in Wisdom and have Peace in circomstances that are fast changing often. Boldly they go with us in missionfields . They never missed the trampoline in the backyard or cheer leading because they would see wild animals,hold a monkey, sea turtles etc. they helped hand out food to hungry people in disasters and lead them to Jesus themselves. I kept the boxes of broken toys away from them that people send them for Christmas , disposed of the paint splattered sheets people would ‘bless’ me with for their bedrooms, threw away mold ridden sausage or bread from a pastor, and his wife, …smiled when we had out given ourselves in the offering, and made a feast of jam on fresh bread, for the 3rd night ,while they who had stolen the offering took all the church staff out on those nights from our offerings…we woud never tell them, because God is our Provider…and this was what they looked forward to every time…God being in our midst and making a way for us, and it was not about if, but when,…eagerly they waited for the moment of WHEN God would do things. Every day was blessed ,everyday exiting when we walk with God. We taught them to tithe,and the principles of sowing and reaping ,to the Glory of God, not to expect back for selfish endulgence but that when God takes care of your need He loves on you in a way that we often couldn’t even have dreamed of. I think the hardest thing for them is to see a church not wanting to be in revival, to be ablaze and reaching out to people …,particularly pastors. many a place the MK child ( because they see, they know what is foing on) sees churches where people try to keep up appearances, but then they look forward for when Jesus is going to come and the Holy Spirit Touches people and begins to pull them down from people’s lives and set them free. Sometimes people talk stuff right in front of us and our children…”that we should know the scary darkness of the devils powers over the city etc…We told them; pay no attention to it; you walk with Jesus ,..only be aware what He can do.” MK kids are definnately a forgotten group…but they have every bit of challenges a PK has. I love our MK kids, and all PK kids and I agree whole heartedly with your points. Oh, one last nugget for travelling evangelist; When you are a guest kid in a church then you get either spoiled or reprimanded by folks,so…we made sure we had our houserules on the road. One of our friends gave us a great way to know also how to enforce them while standing behind the pulpit lol, one tap with your finger on the pulpit ; 1st warning; 2 nd tap on the pulpit : a spanking when we get back at the hotel. Worked like a charm. Anyways; thank you for sharing, very needed! Great Wisdom!

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