If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen posts/pictures of activities Kaye and I have hosted for the kids of pastors at our church. From Christmas shopping to swim parties, Kaye, alongside my assistant, has put all these events together. Some church leaders have asked about the specifics of gatherings we have done for pastors’ kids, so here is Kaye explaining the why and the how for expressing love to pastors’ kids.
I was raised as a child of a principal and a school cafeteria manager. My parents were at school a lot. I was at school a lot. I guess I could have thought, “the school has stolen my parents, “the students, parents, and teachers consume all my parents’ energy and time,” or “I never want to be at school when I grow up.” But I never thought any of those things—just the opposite in fact. My parents were brilliant and taught me two important things without ever actually saying them. First, they taught me to love school as they loved school, and second they taught me that school was a safe place for me to be exactly who I was created to be (a kid who talked a lot!). A few years ago, Jesus showed me this truth and how it could easily be applied to pastors’ kids.
We can raise a generation of pastors’ kids who deeply love the Church.
I absolutely love being an elementary school teacher. I love teaching. I love the camaraderie with other teachers. I love loving families. I love laughing with kids. Yes, I even love the way school smells and the cafeteria food! I credit my parents with all of this. The school was never a place I dreaded going because I was continually shown the beauty of the school. What if we as church leaders showed our kids all of the beauty of the church? What if instead of allowing our kids to feel bitter at the church for the times that we spend there, we include our kids in service and ministry with us? When our kids watch us love difficult people, they learn to love difficult people. When we serve gladly, our kids notice; when we serve begrudgingly, they notice that too. Every day at school was not enjoyable for my parents, but they pressed on day after day because they believed in the mission of school. Christ’s Church has an even greater mission.
We can raise a generation of pastors’ kids who feel deeply loved by the Church.
I was known, seen, and loved for exactly who I was at school growing up. I spent teacher work days writing on chalkboards, playing with other teachers’ kids, digging through the trash for papers to take home and play with, and I absolutely loved the book room. We were expected to behave respectfully, but school was fun! What if pastors’ kids regularly hear how valuable their parents are? How can we help pastors’ kids have fun at church and view being there as a privilege? We want church to be a place they can’t wait to go to now and in the future. We want them to believe with their whole heart the Church loves them so much.
How do we encourage pastors’ kids to love the Church and feel loved by the Church? Eric and I are still very much learning this, but here are some ideas we are seeing work.
Connect the kids to each other.
Our pastors’ kids are spread across Southern California and across the age spectrum, so it was no surprise that many did not know each other. After three and a half years of creating activities to help connect the kids, I see a huge difference. Activities range from pool parties to Christmas shopping together to water parks to scavenger hunts. We keep things simple and try to only accomplish two things: have fun being with other pastors’ kids and feel so very loved by our church.
Show them we love and appreciate their parents.
Each time Eric and I have the kids together we spend a few minutes reminding them how special their parents are and what a difference they are making for Jesus. Parents are invited to stay for some of the kid parties, but we will often encourage them to go on a date. I strongly believe one of the greatest gifts kids can receive is parents with a healthy marriage!
One of my favorite activities we do is at Christmastime. Kids receive a postcard inviting them to meet Eric and me (and a few amazing volunteers) at church to go Christmas shopping for their parents. Parents are given a gift to go on a date. Then, we feed the kids, load all kids four and older into church vans, and take them to Target. The kids are given an amount of money they are allowed to spend on their parents, and they can buy anything they choose. This is super entertaining for Eric and me! We bring them back to church and wrap the gifts. When the parents arrive back from their date, the kids are so excited to give them a gift that they have chosen and wrapped! We’ve done this for five consecutive years, and the kids LOVE shopping together, wrapping together, and just being together!
Let them have “special fun” at church.
All kids should have fun at church, but I believe there should be some special “perks” to being a pastor’s kid (I remind our own kids regularly that this does not mean you are “better than other kids.”). We have an annual tradition of swimming in our outdoor baptistry. This was number one on almost every kid’s list of “something I really want to do at church.” We fill up the baptistry to the brim, throw in a bunch of pool floats, and tell them to have a blast! A scavenger hunt around campus was a big success as well. This allowed the kids to get a sneak peek into some of the fun places at church.
The goal is to see a group of kids who grow up together loving Jesus and His Church and who know they are deeply loved by the Church.