How To Keep Pastors Kids In The Church

August 13, 2014 — 1 Comment
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?

One response to How To Keep Pastors Kids In The Church

Leave a Reply


Text formatting is available via select HTML.

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>