Book Review: The Pastor’s Kid

the pastors kid bookMy father is a Pastor.

My grandfather was a Pastor.

My great grandfather was a Pastor too.

When I was a boy I lay on top of my bed one night balling my eyes out.

The reason?

I didn’t want to be a Pastor.

Because of the heritage of my family I thought that to be a ‘Coombs’ meant you had to be a Pastor. I looked down the generations and saw that the first born son turned out to be a Pastor. Something at the age of twelve I didn’t want to be.

This was one of many unique challenges I can remember growing up as a Pastor’s kid (PK). Granted, this was more a phenomenon of our family’s rich Christian tradition. Yet, there are other challenges of living with the forever abbreviated title of ‘PK’ that others don’t face. And these challenges are the reason I find the book, ‘The Pastor’s Kid’ by Barnabas Piper an excellent book.

Piper has recently published this book about PKs for PKs, Pastors and churches. A book that “describes the unique challenges PKs have faced being the children of ministers”.

Throughout the book Piper seeks to serve individuals and churches by highlighting the challenges that come from being a child with a Pastor as parent. Through his own experience as a PK, and conversations with others, Piper gives insight into these challenges. As he puts it,

“The constant pressure to be something, do something, and believe something creates enormous confusion for PKs. And one of the main confusions is about who we are…”

After all, nobody chooses to be a PK, you’re either born into it or brought into it through the calling of your parents.

On one hand it is a privilege. The constant meeting of new people from different parts of the world. The hearing of what God is doing in different countries and places. The unconscious absorption of biblical teaching. And the community of people that you’re surrounded by. All these things provide the PK with tremendous opportunity to hear about God, what He has done, and what He continues to do.

On the other hand, it is a situation where the fishbowl of the local church can strangle the life out of you. Where there is an ambivalence to the truth because you’ve heard the stories so often. Church becomes a place where everyone knows of you, but no one actually knows you. Where expectations are laid on thick, from parents to congregation. And, of course, where you get to see the ugliness of sinners dealing with sinners from the front row.

Therefore, PKs turn out differently as they seek to find themselves within the life of the church and the world around them. Some stay within the faith, following in the steps of their parents. Others rebel, leaving the church behind for a life apart from God. And others end up finding God and their place in the world in a way that is their own.

Piper rightly highlights the need for grace for the PK, as they seek to grow from within the all-encompassing nature of church ministry. Grace that is experienced and shown, not just told. Grace that recognises that legalism and rules won’t help. Grace that recognises the PK has their own journey of faith-discovery and self-discovery. Grace that is therefore holistic, unassuming, respectful and full of hope for the PK as a person. Grace that comes from Jesus Christ, shown through the Pastor and the church.

A PK isn’t anyone special. They are as special as everyone else. But they do have unique challenges.

This book is a great conversation starter for you and your family. I’d strongly recommend you buy this book – read it and talk about it. It’ll help you as a PK. It’ll help you as a Pastor. And it’ll help you as a church member.


This book review was also posted on the Baptist Union of Victoria’s ‘Witness Blog’ on the 22/09/2014. 

7 Evernote Tips For Youth Pastors

FYI: This is a very old article, written in 2011. I no longer use Evernote, but you be you. 

Evernote is one of the most used apps on my phone and computer.

Here’s seven tips on why Youth Pastors should be using it.

7-evernote-tips-for-youth-pastors

1. Evernote Helps A Youth Pastor Organise Events

Anything from camps to small group socials to the stock standard youth night. Evernote helps you keep organised and plan an event coming up.

Writing lists, storing information about what needs to purchased, and delegating which leader is responsible for what. All these things can be stored in various notes.

The helpful tagging option allows you to bring up all the notes about “Awesome Camp”, which can then include details about registration, budget, what to buy, and the contact details for the campsite itself. There are a number of ways to put together a particular youth event but having them all in one central place is helpful.

Once the event is done and it’s time to debrief this is where notes can be kept and help you improve the next time it comes around.

2. Evernote Helps A Youth Pastor In Designing The Youth Ministry Programme

Young people and youth leaders are full of ideas about youth events. Nearly every week there will be one person that comes up to me and says, “We should do […insert event here…] next term.”

Evernote enables you to store information about future youth ministry activities. This can include details of what it is, contact information, and the links to the websites. When coming to organise the next term’s programme this will make the process a lot easier. Pull your phone out, have a look at what’s there, think about whether it achieves what you’re after and put in on the planner. Easy.

A local roller-skating rink posts me information every now and then with their information for youth groups. All I do is take a picture of it, store it in Evernote, and boom. It’s sorted and searchable for when I need it.

3. Evernote Helps A Youth Pastor Remember A Good Game

Games + Youth Ministry = Fun times.

How many times do you find yourself, perhaps at the end of a night, where there is 15 minutes to spare and you’ve run out of games?

No Youth Pastor should be without a few games up their sleeve. They’re the bread and butter of many traditional youth groups and youth ministries. Evernote allows you to store heaps and heap and heaps of games on your phone and computer, easily accessed in seconds.

Storing games you’ve come up with yourself, finding a few gems on the net, and even taking a few notes from games some of your leaders come up, can all be stored in Evernote. Tagging them into what kind of games, i.e. Adventure, Messy, Group, Ice-Breaker and the like becomes extremely helpful too.

4. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor Remember Conversations With Young People, Parents And Leaders

Last year I held a Parent Afternoon Tea and jotted down some of the feedback given. There were a few new ideas floating around and also some encouraging things being said about the youth ministry. At the end of our time together I took a photo of the discussion notes, uploaded them to Evernote, and they became searchable using their technology. This has helped me remember what we talked about and we we could implement in the future.

After a conversation with a Youth Leader I type out some brief bullet point notes in Evernote so that I remember what was said and the action points decided upon. This helps me to know where my Youth Leaders are at with a variety of matters and also helps me in following up the next time we catch up.

This is so much more useful than some form of text file stored on the computer. Here I have them all in note form and in my hand.

5. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor Store Contact Details Of Other Youth Pastors, Young People, Leaders, And Churches

The amount of ‘networking’ events for those in Christian ministry is quite extraordinary. Every week there are multiple emails promoting different organisations, churches, and leadership events. It gets confusing and tiring.

Anyway, Evernote helps me to store the contact details of those I actually want to stay in touch with. Sometimes it might be the dreaded business card (Does anyone actually use these anymore?) , take a pic, snap, upload, sorted. Sometimes it is simply me entering the information of the person right in front of them, or even handing the phone over and asking them to enter it themselves.

Having knowledge and contact details of those in my area, those I wish to continue a working relationship with, and organisations who could be helpful for our youth ministry is handy to have. you never know when you might be of support to someone or they to you. Having their details on hand and in an easy to find place is awesome.

This could easily apply to people in the youth ministry, church, and others.

6. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor With All That Ridiculous Administration

Every job has administration, the Youth Pastor can’t avoid it either. However, Evernote provides a great solution in storing what’s important and also the not so important.

I get sent a fair few things via snail mail and these things can easily be scanned and uploaded to Evernote directly. It was only the other week where I read an article in one of the Christian papers and then took a picture of it for Evernote and future use.

But there is other stuff too. Receipts and invoices, important emails you want to keep in one place, and even those rare thank you notes you receive from people. These can all g into Evernote, be made searchable, and like that you’ve cut down on paper, reduced the need for a filing cabinet and stored them forever.

7. Evernote Helps The Youth Pastor Write Talks For Youth Ministry

Every youth ministry should have some form of talk that is Bible-based and aimed at encouraging, equipping, or evangelising youth people. I regularly do them, as do my Youth Leaders.

With Evernote I can write up that talk in plain text then take my phone with me to the front of the group and go bang. Granted, I do prefer paper for that purpose but if I was to ever lose or have my talk stolen by one of our members then I can easily retrieve it on me device.

Evernote provides heaps of editing options to helps highlight important things to say and remember for delivery. Using the search and tagging function also provides good reference for the future. For example, when speaking on the Rich Young Ruler from Luke 18:1-18 I can have my notes in Evernote and tag them, “Youth Talk”, “Jesus”, “Wealth”, “Gospel”, “Cost”, “Works” etc.

In sum, Evernote is a great app for Youth Pastors to use and enables them to be better organised, which I think produces a better Youth Pastor. It helps in ‘doing’ ministry, and we all know we need help sometimes. There are plenty of other things I’m sure we could come up with. But hey, seven is a godly number. Let’s leave it there.

Are you a youth pastor that uses Evernote? How does it help you?

The Sadness Of Ministry Closure

When things come to a close it can be a sad time.

When we come back from overseas after a wonderful holiday, when we say good-bye after a lovely dinner with friends, when the inspiring movie could have gone on much longer but had to come to an end. There is often the feeling of sadness.

So it is with youth ministries and programs that come to a close.

The Sadness Of Ministry Closure

At a recent ministry meeting a team of us decided to close a ministry that has been going on in our church for the last three years. For the past 18 months many of the main leaders in this program have left and moved onto other things. Others have simply stopped participating and helping out, not making it a priority. And some, sadly, have left the church and the faith altogether.

The feeling of the team was that it is best to lay the program down for a season or two.

And, it is sad.

It is sad because it is something many have put their hearts and souls into.

It is sad because it is a ministry that was loved by parents, students, and the wider church.

It is sad because relationships were strained because of the program and the stress involved.

It is sad because the investment of money, time, and effort into something like this brings with it an emotional connection.

But my pastor, who chaired the meeting, reminded us all of John 12:24,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” 

Our ministries, and church programs, including our precious youth group or camp or event, are like the grain. Sometimes they must fall to earth and die in order for more fruit to be produced.

Looking at this verse in closer context we see that some Greeks have come to see Jesus. From Andrew to Peter the message of these visitors is passed on to Jesus. Jesus responds by telling these visitors that his time to be glorified is close, very close.

What the…?

We find shortly after that Jesus is actually referring to his death. Through his death the disciples and the believers will bear much fruit.

But as Jesus continues to speak he says the following in v25-26:

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.”

What a challenge!

It seems we are to look to do the things of God, look to do the work of Jesus, which is to die and be a sacrifice to the world.

How then does this relate to ministries and programs dying? 

Well, maybe it is the case of having to let them die so that more fruit can come from the wider ministries of the church. And maybe, just maybe, it is the case that we are to adjust our focus to Christ and look closely at how we serve him, realigning our ministries with his.