- Complaints About Their Minister-Spouses
- Complaints About the Children
- Unreasonable Expectations About Ministry Involvement
- Gossip & Murmering
- Attacking the (non-Staff) Spouse to Get Desired Results
Every non-staff church leader should be aware of these. Every church member should be aware of these. They are very real. I have experienced all of these in one form or another, in one church or another. I see these happen to friends serving other churches. While I am fortunate that all of my children, now grown or in college, have not only continued in their faith journeys but have actually increased ministry involvement, such patterns of behavior are common contributors to the high numbers of ministry children leaving the church, if not also the faith. The behaviors Rainer identifies are often devastating to ministry families.
For those serving in churches where you are experiencing some of these abuses, perhaps causing you concern for your spouse and children, I will share the counsel I received from a godly older minister during a time when our experience was most acute. I was told: “If you don’t let it crush you, it won’t crush them (the children). Don’t share details (with your children) – they likely already know. But do talk with them, be honest about it, and make sure they understand that those in the church are also broken and sinful, just like those outside the church.” Our children learned this lesson; they consequently have a pretty good grasp of Total Depravity and Luther’s concept of simul iustus et peccator (Simultaneously Just and Sinner) -even if they don’t necessarily know the term. But because they understand that even as believers – as those “credited” as “righteous” – we are all still infected by our own selfishness and sin, they have a greater appreciation of why we all are in need of Jesus’ redeeming grace. Though the blood of Christ was shed “once for all”, bringing forgiveness, we all have an ongoing need for the blood of Christ to continually cleanse us from our sin. Though shed “once for all”, a one-time shot of Jesus’ blood is not all there is.
I encourage you, whether on church staff or a church member, click the link above to read Rainer’s descriptions. One important thing to note, Rainer does not limit this behavior against only the Pastor’s family; it happens, at one time or another, to almost all ministry families. Check your own church to see if (where) this is happening. Then step up, and step in where necessary.