On Growing Up as a PK

pastor's kids

my brother, sister, and I - 3 nutty PKs

Lately, I’ve been asked by several people if I know of resources to help those of us who grew up as PKs (pastor’s kids) or MKs (missionary’s kids). Those who ask are usually PKs or MKs themselves, spouses of PKs and MKs, or close friends of PKs and MKs. We’re a special bunch, that’s for sure.  Since much has been written on the subject I don’t want to be redundant. Plus, my own story is still in process, so I won’t be sharing it today. I carry both tremendous blessings and deep wounds from growing up in a pastor’s household, and have done lots of reading to help me understand it all. Here are some books and links I recommend:

Top of the list is: I Have to be Perfect (and other Parsonage Heresies) by Tim Sanford. Tim discusses nine lies that can play in the heads of PKs and MKs. I identified all but one in myself! It helped me understand that I wasn’t alone in my feelings which has allowed me to be more open and honest with myself and others about the real, albeit “imperfect,” April.

Another favorite, though not specifically about being a  PK or MK is Mad Church Disease by Anne Jackson. Anne’s story growing up in a pastor’s family and eventually serving on staff of a church was oddly parallel to my own. The chapter on forgiveness was especially good, and I think helpful to PKs and MKs. It can be downloaded for free here or via Anne’s blog.

Another book I appreciated, not because it was a self-help for PKs, but because I identified somewhat with the author’s experience is Crazy for God by Frank Schaeffer. Of course, my life wasn’t nearly as in the spotlight as Frank Schaeffer’s was, but I related to his feelings of living in two worlds and the confusion that caused in him, especially as a boy. In one world was who outsiders perceived his family to be, and in the other world was what they were really like.

As for websites, The Parsonage has many articles available for pastors and their families. Preacher’s Kids International is a place for people who grew up in the ministry to chat online, heal, and share their experiences together. Leadership Journal also has lots of articles offering help, advice, and  stories of those who grew up in ministry families.

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4 thoughts on “On Growing Up as a PK

  1. Good resources. I’m glad PK’s are sharing their experiences and comforting each other.

    I wonder if I should start a support site for abnormal PK’s? -only half joking – For instance, what if your church ministry family only talked Christian on Sundays but not the rest of the week? How are you wounded if you’re the kid of a pastor who walks away from Christianity? What if you come to a real faith in Jesus only to realize that your pastor parent had no real connection to God? How does it mess you up if you’re the kid of that pastor who messes around with the secretary – and the secretary was male too?

    Not all of that happened to me, but I have noticed that I carry different scars than most PK’s. I only bring it up because I’d like someone to address this PK experience sometime.

  2. PKI has discussion groups. From the browsing I’ve done it seems the experiences are quite varied among PKs who chat there.

    Also, I think while your experience is unique, there are common threads. The whole thing where the pastor’s family is one way at church and another way at home is pretty common, for example.

    The links have articles that cover a lot of different topics and experiences, too.

  3. I went looking after I typed my comment. It seems like a lot to dig through for a more narrow type of experience. PKI is a private community which is good, but I’d have to join to see what discussion groups they have. Part of my abnormal PK baggage is that I don’t even feel like I qualify as a real PK and that I don’t like to join groups. :-)

    One positive experience I had was that my dad refused to be moved around every 4 or 5 years by his denomination. He chose a church outside the denomination so that we could grow up in the same house. He was looked down on for it by his denomination, but it was very brave for him to put his family first. I think it taught me not to place ministry above closer commitments.

    Thanks for discussing and helping PK’s!

    • True. You would have to dig some since your experience wasn’t quite as typical. If I run across anything I’ll send it your way. I know where to find you. ;)

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