In case you haven’t done the math, my kids are preacher’s kids, sometimes referred to in the churchiverse as “PKs.” They get top billing anytime I preach (whether the illustrations are true or not), they spend a lot of time hanging out at God’s house (“No running in God’s hallways!”), and sometimes I dream that we’ll be one of those powerhouse multi-generational pastor families where I’ll eventually pass my legacy down to them (current legacy includes a couple of Mark Driscoll books and a clergy parking pass to Duke Hospital).
But I realize that my kids aren’t like the PKs of my youth. Nope, my version of PKs – my friends Bobby and Tommy – had it way rougher than my kids do now. They had to walk a whole 75 feet from the parsonage to get to church. Their preacher daddy didn’t embrace his baldness like I am, and they were subject to the scourge of his toupee. They didn’t have a coffee bar, a plethora of campus choices, or worship leaders who wore skinny jeans. ‘Twas a rough life, yo.
Over the years, Merriem and I have discovered that we’re raising a different breed of PK. These are kids that have never really known traditional church. They’ve grown up in a multi-site, band-driven, set up and tear down, high school and warehouse church environment that doesn’t really lend itself to the flannel graphs and three piece suits of our day. As a matter of fact, they don’t always recognize (or understand) traditional church when they actually see it. For example…
Several years ago we took Jacob and Austin (then 9 & 8) on a road trip to visit the first church we served way back in the early 90’s. We were there for a Wednesday night prayer meeting, and Jacob grabbed a hymnal out of the back of the pew and examined it the way a monkey examines a nuclear warhead. “Mom,” he whispered “what is this?” Merriem looked at me as though we’d completely failed to bring our child up to love Jesus. “He’s a Southern Baptist’s pastor’s kid!” she said. “He should know what a hymnal is!”
A few months back Jase (then 8) told us that we ought to go and plant a church in a nearby small town. His reasoning: “All the churches in that town don’t look right. They all have those pointy things sticking up from the roof.” (God bless him, he doesn’t understand steeples and thinks warehouses are God’s chosen church design spelled out in Leviticus.)
And just last week, Austin (now 14) attended a friend’s birthday party in her church’s fellowship hall. When I picked him up, he said “Dad, it was one of those old churches, with tinted windows and pictures on them.” (Yep, stained glass.)
So how about you? What are your stories of being a traditional church parent raising emerging church kids? Comment below.
my 3 boys will NEVER know the scourge of a “clip-on tie”… or.. Lines 1 & 4 of “Amazing Grace”…sung by a choir in hideous blue robes…accompanied by an Organ & MAYBE a piano…
Going to my neice’s high school graduation in a few weeks back home where the traditional church is the only known church around. Everyone’s supposed to wear “church clothes” because it’s a graduation and they want the attendees to look nice. Problem is that when I show up in my “church clothes” (jeans, summit kids t-shirt and flip-flops) they’re going to refuse to let me in!
When I tell my kids “church clothes”, they put on their good jeans and good flip-flops. When my sister tells her kids “church clothes”, they put on dresses, heeled shoes with pantyhose (didn’t know they still made those, did you?) and a matching long dress coat…my kid’s the one in the hoodie. 🙂
I make JD sing hymns to our kids at night (not me as much bc I don’t know nearly as many obscure ones as he) bc I fear having a moment in the future where someone somewhere breaks out into “This is My Father’s House” or somesuch and it is obvious by the look on my kids’ faces that they don’t know what the person is singing. I would really and truly feel like I had somehow failed them morally.
Poor Bobby and Tommy! And did you really have to bring up the toupee? But you have to admit…those were the good ole’ days! lol!
Well at least we serve the same communion bread (except for NDC which has gone to oyster crackers).
My church back home still uses real bread. Many have suggested communion wafers but most want bread and the family that prepares communion is okay with cutting up all that bread…so real bread it is. btw, the church celebrated their 225 anniversary this past weekend…complete with stained glass windows, hymn books and suits & ties. When we go to MaMa & Granddaddy’s church, my kids think they’re on a historical fieldtrip!
When we go visit certain (not-to-be-singled-out) family members and go to church with them, the service always ends with everyone in the sanctuary holding hands and singing “blessed be the tie that binds”.
I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing out loud the first couple of times we did this.
All I could think of was the last scene from “the grinch” where all the Whos are gathered around the tree singing some song and the Grinch is singing “yah-hoo ra-moo da-rae do-da”
Unfortunately, though, the make up of churches is still the same- people who don’t treat preachers well. That is the real difficulty of the PK and it has nothing to do with hymns or ties or steeples. If you let your kids know about the difficulties you face with church members, even just in talking about it, and if they see (and they will) the way the preacher and their families are treated like hired help, they will come away from the same experience that your PK friends did as a kid. You won’t understand and you can’t, unless you are a PK (obviously I am one, an adult now). So protect them from the church people!