Chewing over the PK issue

I was having a conversation with someone last night who trotted out the oft used line that PKs get an easy ride when it comes to settling in to a new church because they have a reputation.

This is rubbish. Sorry person. You are wrong. It’s more often a case of notoriety than reputation. And it’s more a case of “expectation” than “free ride”.

PKs (who I prefer to call “Preachers Kids” because I think the word “Pastor” is overused) are a misunderstood breed. You’re occasionally the yardstick by whom all other children in the church are measured (or sometimes it feels that way). Especially when you’re used in sermon illustrations (which I wasn’t often – probably because I tried to get dad to pay me for use of my image rights when I learned that other people had that deal). Incidentally this is the thing that concerns me most about Mark Driscoll’s ministry. What happens if one of his children takes the archetypal black sheep path of PKness.

When you’re an adult PK and trying to build your own identity in church circles it can be equal parts blessing and curse. Depending on who your father is, and who the people making the assessment are.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade my father or my PK-ness for anything. But that was a low blow. And I didn’t like it. It made me angry.

For those who might have missed it first time around – settling into a new church is difficult – no matter who you are. Settling in to new social environments anywhere is difficult. I remember being on that side of the equation – I wrote about it here – I think this is a fault of the church, not the new person. But I don’t think we should be expecting a free ride. No matter who our parents are, or aren’t.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

17 thoughts on “Chewing over the PK issue”

  1. I’d point out here that there are similar expectations etc for any ‘dynastic’ family in a church as well – we found this a really big problem in terms of being 4th generation in the same place. Hence the leaving of that church.

  2. I like how you refer to yourself as the anti-donna in the comments in your old post.

    I agree that settling in to a new church can be difficult for anybody. I never settled into a church in Gympie, partly because the churches had expectations of me because of my role in the school which was attached to a number of them.
    I think I’ve had a hard time settling back into the church here since coming home because of expectations again – expectations that I would be the exact same person as I was 3 1/2 years earlier, of what a young mum is ‘supposed’ to be like, and like Amy said, that ‘dynasty’ factor.
    BTW I’m married to a former PK. He hasn’t been bothered by PK expectations for a long time. But then, he hasn’t stayed with the same denomination, and his Dad left the ministry a long time ago.

  3. I didn’t get that impression. I think it’s worth acknowledging that expectations let people down. There’s also a grass is greener thing happening where everybody assumes that because things aren’t working for them, they must be for other people.

    It’s odd how many people think there’s this thriving social scene operating in our church where people hang out and do fun stuff in an exclusive way. That’s certainly not my experience. Perhaps I’m missing something?

  4. Grace and I were discussing that the other day. It’s not our experience either.
    I do have very good friends at church, and they are part of the reason we chose Willows when we came back to Townsville. But I think we’ve lost a sense of family that existed many years ago. I’ve got some theories, but won’t expand too much here for all to read.

  5. But, maybe, everyone thinks that everyone else is part of a great social scene and they are not, even if they are.

  6. Yeah. A great “social scene” is so hard to pin down and define. If I want to hang out with people socially I’m able to find people. I think there’s an odd culture of seeing cliques at every turn and expecting everyone to be best buddies. Which I don’t think is particularly realistic.


  7. When you’re an adult PK and trying to build your own identity in church circles it can be equal parts blessing and curse. Depending on who your father is, and who the people making the assessment are.

    It’s more often a case of notoriety than reputation. And it’s more a case of “expectation” than “free ride”.

    Agree completely. And I can also echo

    I wouldn’t trade my father or my PK-ness for anything.

  8. I don’t so much see that, but I do often feel that it’s only appropriate for me to associate with other people with small children. I notice a segregation by demographic. Which could be entirely my perception, and so I could well be perpetuating a self-made myth, so I’d be happy to hear if it’s only me (and my sister) who feel that way.

  9. “But, maybe, everyone thinks that everyone else is part of a great social scene and they are not, even if they are.”

    I think Stuss is spot-on. But I also understand her comments about “I think we’ve lost a sense of family that existed many years ago.”

    I also agree with her comment about the demographic segregation. But I think it changes between the generations and demographics… eg. some generations/demographics intermingle and others don’t.

  10. Try being reasonably-long-term young marrieds WITHOUT kids. Then you don’t fit anywhere.
    (That’s my pity party).

  11. Well, Amy, you just need to hurry up and have kids then, don’t you!
    (don’t worry, I’m only kidding)

  12. Knowing your views on online grammar corrections, would you want to be told if there were a typo that actually reversed the meaning of one of your sentences?

Comments are closed.