Save Your Kids from Hating the Church, Before Its Too Late

Save your kids from hating the church

Pastor’s kids are prone to rebel against the church. The problem is so common it’s become a stereotype. The same dangers affect MKs (missionary kids) and SKs (staff kids) and DKs (deacon’s kids). Every ministry volunteer should take this seriously. After all —

What does it profit if gain all the kids for Jesus, but lose our own children.

Ed Stetzer wrote a helpful blog post about this very issue. He lists 5 reasons why pastor’s kids are prone to hate the ministry and how to avoid that outcome.

But it’s not just PKs – all kinds of kids can “sour” on the church

Here’s how I would rewrite Dr. Stetzer’s advice to help all church parents.

  1. Invest in your family, don’t let church activities substitute for family activities
  2. Don’t pressure your children to be good because they are “church kids”
  3. Protect them from church conflicts and never complain at home about your church
  4. Don’t act godlier at church than around the house
  5. Admit your own sins/shortcomings – you’re not a saint and the kids know it

He goes into greater discussion for each idea and it’s worth your time to read the list and talk it over with your own children.

I’m very aware of this danger for my own children and frankly don’t have the answers yet. I feel like humility and love are the key themes to remember when helping over-churched kids. But my family is a long way from perfect! I’d love to hear your comments and experience with this problem. Please leave a comment below to join the conversation.

Some More Articles

I’ve been collecting links about this topic and here are a few you should read & pass along to other parents in your church.


  1. S higgins says

    Thanks for this. My daughter has become rebellious. I think a lot of it has to do with the influence of peers and television shows. How do we protect our kids? That’s the question

  2. says

    Unfortunately, God has a lot of competition out in the world and regardless if you are brought up in a family that goes to Church on Sunday to worship Him or not, we have to remember that conversion is a personal experience – we will all choose to follow Him or we will choose to not follow Him and not according to how or when we want our children to be obedient to the Lord.

    I love this quote from St. Ambrose who says of the two conversions that, in the Church, “there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.”

    When I was 14, I didn’t want to go to Church and my mother a good Christian woman told me “well, you don’t have to go to Church to worship God, you can worship Him anywhere and you can pray to Him and talk to Him wherever you are.” I was never forced to go when I entered high school. Some may think this is way too young to let them decide, but I realize now that my mother was so smart because although she was telling me I didn’t have to go, I realized that my mother spent a lot of time in Church – probably praying for my return to Church, but she taught me to never forget to talk to God and to invite Him into your life not just once a week, but everyday.

    There is a big difference in “going” to church and “wanting” to go to Church. I realized many years later when I went thru my 1st conversion that God was calling me to return to Church to pray with the community of faithful – I realized my “just me and Jesus way” which was my way was lacking in some very important fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. So, just pray for your children’s conversion – and let God do all the heavy lifting! Blessings to all!

  3. Nancy says

    All of our four pk kids repented and followed Christ at various stages in their childhood; all were baptized. They had very happy childhoods in a parsonage in the country! They are twentyish. Unfortunately, I cannot say they are all walking with the Lord. Oldest strayed and returned. 2nd does not attend church with his wife or talk of God, 3rd says he is an atheist, 4th attends a liberal college and is claiming to be a Christian still. Trusting God has taken on a whole new definition. Do not forget Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. We parented the best we knew how at the time, and glean satisfaction in knowing they’re all compassionate, responsible, respectful citizens. Two have married excellent mates. But our prayers for them to return are continual.The enemy has a special target with PKs.

  4. Anna samson says

    I’m so blessed to share that my 2 girls will cry for a long time if we miss church even just one Sunday Morning! They love to go to church! Praise God! My first born is 7 now and my second is 5. They wake up early on Sundays and prepare with excitement. I asked them ” Why do you love to go to church?” My first born’ s answer is because she loves God so

  5. says

    I could not help but smile at Dr stetzer’s advice. It is the truth.We live in a world where people pretend…We go to church with a different personality and when we leave the church we wear another personality…So much thou shall not this, thou shall not that, that giving the children the idea of they being “holier” than others. It is a bad thing and it is creating hatred.

  6. Shaina says

    As I become a missionary’s wife, I think reminding my kids the reason behind it all is the main key. We do the things we do because we serve The Lord Christ. And because of that, we don’t have different standards.

  7. Tammy says

    I have been working in children’s ministry for over 15 years. My children came through the children’s ministry while I was leading it. Their father is also an elder who would preach on occasion. While in children’s ministry they were always there early helping me, cleaning up, giving up a craft if there wasn’t enough. In other words, they were always helping me or sacrificing for someone else. We did our best to actively apply the 5 principles you stated, but we are human, and at times failed. I think that what our girls appreciated most was our willingness to admit when we were wrong, or when we expected too much of them. We found that when our girls where in high school we had to give them a little freedom in choosing if our church was were they wanted to go. I am so happy that they are both active in ministry. One is marrying a children’s pastor in a few months and one is in college to become a youth minister. It was hard being a SK, but I think they have a healthy understanding of the church and the humans that work in it.

  8. says

    Thanks for the link Tony. Good insights. I find we’re struggling with this more as the kids get older and into adolescence. I think even if you follow the five steps above, we need to be careful of the idea that “familiarity breeds contempt.” Things like service and giving kids input help here. It’s important to strike a healthy balance between making them go to church and letting them have input into their own spiritual journey as well.

  9. Linda says

    We had 2 very hard church works that my husband pastored. Our 3 children were expected to do better than all the other church kids because they were the pk’s. When it came to behavior, Awana, everything. It really was hard on them because they couldnt just be kids. It even flowed over into the schools they attended. A different standard for our children. I tried very hard to let them be normal children and made sure they had activities to attend outside the church. We prayed a lot for our kids! Its been 12 years since we left pastoral ministry and one son is living totally away from God. Our other son is a Youth pastor and our daughter has been involved in ministry.

  10. Suzan says

    I was heavily involved in the church.. Singing… Preaching… Sunday school… Volunteering… And then God told me to take a back seat.i even started going to a church where women can’t serve…. So that I wouldn’t be tempted. I took my children each week and I didn’t palm them off to Sunday school.. I gave them bible quiz books and bible puzzle books. My son is now totally into God. He has joined a church and is serving god wholeheartedly at 16 years old. And I followed him off to his church … Where slowly I am picking up things to do.. I feel doing nothing was the most worthwhile thing I could have done for my children.. And god blessed it

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