First of all, I want to say thank you to Barnabas Piper for courageously writing such a difficult book! It is not an easy topic for anyone (let alone the child of a famous minister) to talk about this subject publicly, in the hope that someone will listen and it will make a difference. Without people like him, this topic would go unnoticed and continue causing potentially irreversible damage to individuals and relationships.
I found this book a very easy read. Simple, friendly and personal language meant I wanted to pick it up and read through it (always nice for a hard topic book!). His topics were well laid out and it wasn’t as confronting as I was expecting, but it also didn’t hide the truth. There were plenty of personal stories, few statistics and lots of Christian theology throughout the book.
It is important to remember that this book is written by a Christian, who has been through the hard yards of growing up in a ministry household and come out the other side with a strong faith. He is not trying to point out the negativity of faith or Jesus Christ, instead he talks openly about his own difficulties and how God helped him through.
The first seven chapters are thorough, challenging and give you a good picture not only of the issues PKs face, but also who can help change these issues and care for PKs. He talks about the 'Fishbowl Experience', being known of but not known, the stresses of church before family and how difficult it can be to keep a parent-child relationship strong while growing up.
By the final chapter I must admit I felt the book lost a bit of its direction. The foreword tells pastors to ‘seek refuge in chapter eight’, so I was very much looking forward to what it would have to say. I was disappointed when it talked about how the benefits of growing up in a ministry household equipped pastor’s kids for future ministry. I've heard many other positives about being a PK, I thought perhaps there would be more detail about those elements. There were quite a few ‘shoulds’ after the book had been talking about not placing expectations on pastor’s kids and it seems the benefits he outlined were those that helped PKs make the informed choice to enter paid ministry. I was left with a confused feeling that being a PK means that because you are prepared for ministry, you end up in ministry (despite research I've read with significant loss of pastors' kids from churches).
That being said, it was a fantastic read that really gave a refreshing perspective where other books have not. I highly recommend it to pastors and pastor’s kids alike. Little is said about the other parent who isn’t in ministry, but the truths Barnabas talks about are definitely applicable to all members of a pastor’s family.
The Pastor's Kid is available through Book Depository for a very affordable price.