5 August 2014

3 Major Clergy Family Experiences

I've read over 100 papers now and have noticed that there are 3 significant themes that continually come up for clergy families. As you may already know, there are a lot of statistics on how ministry affects clergy workers. I read a fantastic paper the other day discovered that very few ministers enjoy doing admin and also find that admin takes up most of their working time. No surprises there! I'm still hunting for Australian-based research but I thought it worthwhile putting up the 3 major themes that are coming up from international papers (America and Europe mostly).
Their top three experiences are: 
  • Clergy Workers: Pressure from work hours and tasks mean they have very little time and energy left over for their families. 
  • Clergy Spouses: Express a sense of loneliness while their spouse is in ministry. Mostly due to finding it difficult to make solid friendships in churches and from constantly moving house. 
  • Clergy Children: Experience the sense of 'being watched', with most adult children saying they felt they had higher expectations on them to behave in a certain way.
Do these experiences relate to Australian clergy families? What unique experiences do they have that might go unspoken if people don't ask? What could be done to approach concerns that Australian clergy families have about being in ministry? Food for thought.

~ Rachel


  1. I can say from my experience that both of my parents found it difficult to develop close friendships as most people put up barriers (even if thin) to the pastor and pastor's wife. As if they feared judgement or expected them to be "holier" than everyone else.My brother felt the fish bowl experience way more than I did.

  2. That's such a hard situation, I still cannot understand how a family can be holier than another because of the job.

  3. I know for my Mum, having a close friend from within the congregation was almost impossible because of the church politics going on. We did have one older single lady who adopted our family, and loved us long after dad died. We call her aunty but she is old enough to be a grandmother. She didn't really have a close circle of friends until after Dad died, and she moved to another church where the expectations were different.

    I have many not so pleasant stories about the whole fishbowl experience, and being watched. As our family came from a heritage of public careers (teachers, mayor, doctors) expectations were high anyway. And internal family expectations were just as high as external expectations.

    So yeah - I think from a personal point of view, Australia is pretty much the same as America and Europe there.

  4. Hey Milena,

    Just wanted to check you're happy to have the comment public or you'd prefer it was private? Sounds like your mum had a hard time, with a few good people in there too. Thankyou so much for sharing your experience, it's great to chat to people who have seen these experiences or lived with them.
    Rachel :)

  5. Mum's dead. I'm happy to have this public. It is after all, my experience - and I stand by it. Regardless of whether no one else in the australian clergy have this experience or not.

  6. I would say your experience is definitely similar to others I've heard in Australia sadly. Thankyou, I think it'll help others feel like they have someone else knowing what they're going through. Have a lovely weekend. Rachel,

  7. Actually, I've had second thoughts about mum's side of the story. I don't want to open old wounds. Is it possible to leave out the first paragraph?

  8. That's fine, I've taken it down, I can't edit it but you could repost the second half if you like?