I was really afraid to raise pastor’s kids.
The narrative surrounding the experience of pastors’ children has been discouraging. I didn’t know if it was possible for parents in ministry to raise children who genuinely loved the Lord and the local church. Over the years I have gone on my own journey gleaning wisdom about how to point my children to Jesus. I am not sure I’m doing any of it “right” per se, but I am more hopeful than I have ever been.
As a church planter’s wife with four children, I often have conversations with other Christians about what it’s like to raise children in a church plant setting. Solid Christian families who wanted to partner with us in ministry in our city have ultimately declined the invitation to join us because they were hesitant to put their children in this type of church context.
Rewriting the narrative
I get it. Honestly, I do.
Each family situation is different, and I wholeheartedly applaud whatever a parent does to discern where the Holy Spirit is leading their family. However, we need to rewrite the narrative about raising children on the front lines of ministry.
Children with families in active ministry have a unique privilege to see faith in action and the gospel at work up close during their formative years.
With a heart for the Lord and broken people and an apprentice-level insight into what life in ministry looks like, they have the potential to be great church leaders.
So here are five reasons why it’s a joy to raise a child in a church plant.
- Children are surrounded by people who desperately need Jesus.
There’s no playbook on what to do in a church plant. It is pioneering work. Church plants are pushing back the kingdom of darkness, taking the gospel to those who have not yet heard, so naturally they are a significant target of spiritual warfare.
There are attacks from the enemy and discouragements around every corner. This produces broken yet faith-filled parents and church leaders who need the Lord desperately. As a result children get parents and leaders who are clinging to Jesus.
They are witnessing authentic faith and a gospel that really works.
- Family discipleship is essential.
Church plants don’t have a plethora of children’s programming or activities that keep the calendar full.
I’ve often longed for support and resources for my own children. However, because of the lack of programming, families in church plants must roll up their sleeves and disciple their own children.
It also creates an urgency to partner with the church to provide essential resources so children get programming intentionally developed to meet their spiritual needs and parents who actively disciple them in their homes.
- Children get a front-row seat to God at work.
They witness people going from death to life by believing the gospel. They witness their friends getting baptized. They see broken relationships restored. They see needs met and God answering prayers.
Children clearly see God’s character and the power of the gospel to transform people’s hearts.
- Children learn their faith compels them to act.
Members of a church plant are well accustomed to doing the unseen work of ministry. The children are also often included in background ministry, too.
My favorite part of Sundays is witnessing our children helping with setup and tear down, greeting people and having a blast. These are their earliest memories.
They love being at church helping and working with their friends. They talk about sharing the gospel. They raise money for the persecuted Church to have Bibles. Their faith doesn’t sit on the sidelines.
They sincerely believe there are real people whom they love that need Jesus, and they are compelled to do something about it. Children learn their faith leads them to action.
- Children have meaningful relationships with people older than them.
Because church members are a close-knit family deeply invested in serving, adults rub elbows with children all the time. Adults really know the children.
They play in the hallways together. They eat together.
In a church plant the church is not just a place you go, but a family to whom you belong.
As a result, children have aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters in the family of God investing in them and pointing them to Jesus.
There is so much hope and potential with children raised in a church plant.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Emily Guyer and originally appeared in the Baptist Beacon, the newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.