When the Preacher’s Kids are the Only Kids in the Church | Loneliness in Ministry, part 4
I distinctly remember the day I realized:
We have no friends to invite to our kids’ birthday parties.
Maybe that sounds a bit silly, but if you’re a pastor’s wife who has ever
(1) lived far away from friends and family, and
(2) served a small congregation with few ( or no) other young families
you probably “get” it.
As a very young pastor’s family, we lived in a rural area, served a small congregation, and there just weren’t any families our age in the church.
At the time, my baby and preschooler daughters were pretty much the nursery and the beginner’s Sunday school class. With no cousins or other young kids around, birthday parties posed an interesting dilemma…
Sure, we enjoyed our just-family birthday celebrations (which included my husband, myself, and our two girls)… but sometimes, it was fun to share life with other people, too.
“Are you planning a birthday party for Miss E?” a relative asked me one summer, a few week’s before our baby girl’s first birthday.
I replied that I was, and then- “So who are you going to invite? Are there any… kids?”
I’m sure it was a harmless question, but, honestly- it needled me just a bit.
Obviously our birthday parties weren’t exactly Kid Fests, complete with lawn games, pinatas, and clowns. Aside from the financial limitations that came with ministering in a small church, there were virtually no kids to invite. And what’s a birthday party without kids?
I wanted Miss E’s first birthday party to be a festive day for our family, but the reality of our circumstances felt limiting. No grandparents, no cousins, and no kids.
I couldn’t get the image of our half-acre backyard filled with happy, celebrating faces… and Miss E wearing a huge bow in her blond curls and munching a cupcake.
So we hosted a birthday get-together at our small home, and I invited the entire church.
That probably sounds a lot more complicated then it actually was… we ended up with a shindig of about thirty people. And it was fun!
True, there were no little ones my girls’ age at the party, but I honestly don’t think anyone noticed.
We opened the door to our lives and simply invited people (of all ages) to come in… and they did.
Jeremy and I hosted “church-wide” birthday parties for our kids (and for each other) quite a few times during the seven years we pastored the church in west Texas. Maybe it’s a bit unconventional to invite teenagers and forty-year olds and eighty-year olds to a kid’s birthday party… but no one ever complained.
My kids certainly didn’t complain.
In fact, these days my two older kids talk a lot about “all the friends” they had at that little church. I guess they don’t remember that there were practically no kids their age.
The memories they carry with them are ones of enjoying and sharing life with people who loved them.
And that’s exactly what I what them to remember.
If you’re a pastor’s wife with young children who are “alone” in the congregation, remember that the attitudes you convey to your kids will set the stage for their lives as preacher’s kids.
They may not have the opportunity to sing in a kids’ choir at church, attend a fancy VBS every summer… or throw birthday parties that look like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog.
If you can let go of the expectations of what your child’s life should look like, you can breathe grace into their souls to thrive right where God has placed them.
You see, we can either equip our children to thrive (despite imperfect or even difficult circumstances), or we can break their spirits with negativity and complaining.
The choice is ours.
Children can certainly enjoy a life marked with small Sunday school classes and small birthday parties…
But small hearts and negative minds… well, they may not survive those so well.
Choose your words and attitudes carefully, sweet sisters. You are shaping little souls.
Create the kind of life where happy memories, full hearts, and grateful attitudes can swallow up all the eccentric imperfections of being the preacher’s kid.
Other posts in this series:
- How on Earth Does a Pastor’s Wife Write About Loneliness in Marriage?
- 4 Things Loneliness Taught Me About Friendship
- Loneliness in Ministry: I Don’t Have Any Like-Minded Friends
Next Minister’s Wife Monday, I’d like to talk a little about helping teenage pastor’s kids who feel lonely… that’s something I experienced in my growing up years as a PK.
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