16 December 2015

6 Tips To Make Christmas Less Stressful.

It's that time already, 10 days til Christmas - I'm sure your nativity scenes are dusted off, carol rehearsals are in full swing and the tinsel all untangled. For our final post of the year I wanted to share a helpful article I came across in my own personal hunt for Christmas advice. Without too much ado, here are top 6 tips I found useful, and particularly relevant to those tight on time and money. For the full article, click here.
  1.  Don't Break Out The Credit Card For Gifts (Soo tempting when that extra $5 gift will be just right but apparently that's the trap that tends to make you pay for the rest of the year!). 
  2. Only Select A Few Events (With so many activities going on, it's easy to just say yes to them all, particularly church-related ones. But if you find that you're tight on time and have trouble just eating a meal, it's ok to pull back, choose a few you want to be at and gently decline the rest. There will be other chances next year :)).

27 November 2015

8 Ways To Celebrate As A Family

It seems 'the season' is upon us (as the jaunty Christmas carols at the supermarket told me this week)! Amongst the plans being made, gifts being bought, and lights being untangled, clergy and their families often see the harder side of Christmas as well. I remember talking to a psychiatrist a few years ago who told me 'Christmas keeps us in business (and also means we need a holiday in the following month!).' It can be a bittersweet time for many, and clergy families see that hurt and loneliness and choose to make a huge difference to the lives of these individuals by listening, comforting, and caring for them by providing meals or gifts. Thank you for doing all these things, it means so much to those you do it for.

We were reading about an Australian PK who enjoyed growing up in a clergy household. When she was asked if there was anything she would change, she replied:  "I did kind of wish we could have simply had just 'family time' on Christmas Day."

21 November 2015

10 Thank You's From A Minister

We read a lot of articles each week, but this particular one was beautifully and thoughtfully written, I wanted to share it on our website. When we talk to ministry wives, we get a real sense that only those 'in the job' truly understand the ups and downs of clergy life. They work behind the scenes, supporting  quietly, and often at their own (sometimes unexpected) expense. So here is a public, heartfelt thank you from a minister who sees this work (To read the full letter, click here):

"Thank you to every ministry wives for:
  1.  For your willingness to be separated from your husband on a lonely couch/bed during unpredictable seasons of urgent opportunity and crisis. 
  2. For your constant effort to steer your children toward a sweet disposition about knowing and serving the Lord. 
  3. For your willingness to navigate the unrealistic, extra-biblical expectations that frequently come your way from even well-meaning people. 

31 October 2015

Clergy Families: Supporting Each Other

There are many articles out there on tips and ideas on looking after your family while in ministry, but recently we came across two we wanted to share. They have plenty of advice from clergy workers, and pastors wives so there's a wealth of options. Of course not all ideas will suit everyone and they aren't hard and fast rules, but hopefully there might be something in there for you and your family:

12 Ways To Support Your Husband Who Is A Pastor: Written by a US mother of 4/pastor's wife. She has some great, practical suggestions to help including getting ready for Sunday on Saturday evening, providing positive feedback on sermons or teachings, and organising quality time with your spouse. None of these suggestions are gender specific, I'm certain any pastor would greatly appreciate the help in these ways. Access the full article (and her blog) here.

24 October 2015

Ministry At Home: 7 Ways To Make It Work (Guest Writer)

It can be tricky finding balancing the needs of home and ministry at home, particularly if church is held at your home or there are limited other buildings available for meetings etc. We asked an Australian psychologist who has experience working with clergy families what she'd recommend!  Below are her top 7 tips for making ministry at home work for the whole family. For more of her insights, visit our earlier article.
  1. Have clear work times and communicate this with the non-paid ministry spouse. That is, break your day down into 3 chunks – morning, afternoon and evening. Most full time workers work a 40-hour week which should translate to approx. 10 ministry chunks. Schedule that clearly into your week, and communicate the work chunks to your spouse. For example, if on Tuesday there is a staff meeting in the morning and bible study in the evening, then my afternoon is a non-work chunk. 

14 October 2015

What's A Pastor's Day Like Anyway?! (Video)

We recently came across this fun skit which was made as part of Clergy Appreciation Month and found it so accurate and fun we had to share :) While it is fun, it's not too hard to see the point behind it. We were recently speaking to a clergy child (PK) who was saying how people outside clergy families don't seem to understand how complex the job of ministry is and how long the hours are. Maybe this goes a bit of a way towards appreciating and understanding the job?

 http://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/y65xx90z78

We hope you enjoy this skit, and maybe take a bit of comfort in the fact that your experience is quite similar to others in ministry :) Thankyou to The Skit Guys Studio for making this short video and making a great point in an easy to watch way. Is your day similar to this?

To watch it, please click on the picture or link below, it's definitely worth it!
~ Rachel

3 October 2015

October: Clergy Family Appreciation Month

What a great initiative in the US! A chance to thank and acknowledge these hard working ministers for all the seen and unseen things they do for their churches. We are so glad to know churches around the US are finding ways to encourage their pastors.

We would just make one, small change - include the entire clergy family! While technically one person is generally paid, the whole family is really helping out :) Finding ways to acknowledge all clergy family members goes a long way towards encouraging them in their work and life as a family.

Here in Australia, we are wondering: should adopt Clergy Family Appreciation Month, what do you think?

21 September 2015

Funday Mondays: The Importance Of A Day Off

I was reading an inspiring article by a clergy worker who found a way to have a day off every week that was acknowledged and memorable to his church community and family. He came up with this fabulous idea he calls 'Funday Monday' which he puts in his calendar - and his church's - every Monday then strictly attends it as an appointment that can't be broken unless there's an absolute emergency (even then he chooses to hand it over to another church worker).

19 September 2015

Minister's Husband: There Is No Handbook

While we have been doing a lot of analysis of our Australian study, we like to keep a fresh perspective by reading articles written by others and from other countries. One topic we have been looking into lately is the role of the minister's husband (who aren't in ministry themselves as a career). It's very difficult to find any solid information on this topic, but we have come across quite a few personal stories and newspaper articles which we are working through and adding to our Clergy Spouse resource page. It struck us that while each person and situation is different, one theme pops up across most stories: There is no handbook. There are no guidelines, expectations, or roles for these men. They seem a bit lost. In fact, they get the sense that churches don't really know what to do with the them!

11 September 2015

The Huge Bag Of Worries (Book Review For PKs)

I recently saw the Pixar movie Inside Out. It was a great movie exploring how kids can struggle with emotions when they are in a transition time (physically or developmentally) by manifesting major emotions, such as anger, joy, sadness - all depicted in the movie as comical characters in a girl's mind. The challenge for this girl (Riley) comes when she moves home to somewhere totally unfamiliar and isolated from the groups she previously identified with.

This got me thinking about PKs and the challenges they face dealing with this difficult emotions or situations. I was reminded of a great resource I came across when working as a Chaplain in a bushfire-affected school a few years ago which I think could be really helpful for those engaging with Pastor's Kids, and the worries they may have. It is an illustrated children’s book called “The Huge Bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside.

3 September 2015

Being A Pastor's Husband

After a talk I did last week, I've been reflecting on the diversity of clergy families and their experiences. It can be difficult I must admit, writing so frequently about the negatives of ministry life, and I truly hope one day when I'm asked I can say all the experiences are positive. But for now, perhaps it's ok to be the one who bears difficult news in the hope that very soon it won't be news, but the past.

28 August 2015

Not Enough Bacon In Your Sandwiches: Unusual Unmet Expectations

I recently read the great article "25 Really Weird Things Said To Pastors and Other Church Leaders" Turns out it's a hilarious list of unusual things clergy workers have heard throughout their ministry (and what I can only assume are the responses people wish to give but can't!). It gave us a good laugh! I'm sure some points were exaggerated, but I thought it was worth sharing. Some of our favourites included: “We need a small group for cat lovers.” “Your socks are distracting.” “I don’t like the brand of donuts in the foyer.” and “You didn’t wrap the hot dogs in bacon for the church picnic.”

24 August 2015

Latest On The Clergy Family Study

For those of you who may have heard, we conducted a study throughout October to April asking clergy spouses and adult clergy children to tell us a bit about clergy family life at home, in the church, and what support they received. We were hoping for 100 responses but instead were overwhelmed with the support for the study and received 281 responses!

17 August 2015

Private Online Group Launched!

After a huge amount of interest, we have created and launched a private Facebook group for Australian clergy and their families! We decided to call it the ACF Cafe to give it a warm and welcoming feel, a place to discuss all matter of things - and share a drink with others who know what ministry life is like. While it has a casual name, we have kept it a private group which means only when you join can you see what is written by other members - it isn't shared publicly on your Facebook pages.

15 August 2015

Launching: ACF Cafe

We are excited to announce that as of Monday 17th August, 2015 we will be opening the ACF Online Cafe! After months of looking for the right place and forum, we are opening the (metaphorical!) doors of our new, private Facebook group! It will be a confidential space where clergy workers and their families can meet others in ministry (or retired) around Australia to share their experiences, ideas, topics of interest, - and a bit of a laugh.

6 August 2015

5 Things To Remember As A Parent (Guest Writer)

I'm excited to introduce our guest writer as an Australian clergy spouse and psychologist works towards caring for clergy families. This article is adapted from a talk she did recently which she has kindly shared. I hope you find it helpful and insightful.
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"From the moment you announce the news – “We’re going to have a baby!” you have been the recipient of well-meaning advice. Opinion pieces thrust onto you, whether you have asked for it or not. Sometimes one would think that you were left marooned on some forsaken island where the basic skills of living and breathing were obsolete. From that island you emerged clueless, somehow had sex, and found yourself with an alien life force within you. With all the well-meaning advice coming at you, you start to believe that it’s true – you have not got the general, or specialist know-how of what to do with this child. Too late. You can’t undo the procreation. Now get ready for the train-wreck of parenting boo-boos and boo hoos that await you. Hopeful? Dismal! So I am not going to write like a sage. Instead, I am going to start with some things you do know. 

22 July 2015

Their Choice; Their Responsiblity - Right?

Conversations around the difficulties of clergy family life seem to be happening more often. And while I'm excited that it's beginning to get more attention, where do you start? Are there underlying issues or assumptions that need to be addressed to truly understand the situation? Permit me to put before you some questions I've heard over the years:

"Who really cares how people in ministry are going; isn't it their choice, and therefore their responsibility to look after themselves?"

13 July 2015

Is A PKs Faith Inherited?

I've come to understand that this is a very important and sensitive subject for clergy parents and pastor's kids alike. Many clergy parents I've spoken to explain that the older their kids get, the less interested they are in the Christian faith and going to church (some even describing it as 'going one off the rails' or 'deserting the faith'). Understandably this must be distressing and difficult for clergy parents to hear. On the other side of the coin, PKs I've spoken to or read about have strong convictions about their faith, stating "I am not my father", or "Just because my parents are Christians, why should people automatically assume I am too?"

3 July 2015

Be A Guest Writer For ACF!

We have received a lot of interest in being a guest writer and I wanted to post a note to say over the next little while you can expect some great articles, stories, and experiences from various authors (anonymous and named). We will be hosting some guest writers including an Australian psychologist who works with clergy families, an Aussie PK, a clergy worker, and a pastor's wife. They will be writing on a wide range of topics that are especially important to them relating to ministry life with all its ups, downs and mishaps in between!

1 June 2015

5 Ways To Make Moving Easier For PKs.

While there are huge benefits and joys of growing up in a ministry household, there are also some really difficult parts, like moving. This can often mean the loss of familiar places and friends. There are lots of wonderful techniques we've heard of parents using to help kids transition into a new school, community, and church, so we've taken a top five and made them into a quick list that we hope might help some PKs enjoy the adventure of moving to a new church community. :)
  1. Give Them Plenty of Notice: Once the move and moving day are set, find a fun way to tell younger kids you're moving to give them plenty of time to adjust and get used to the idea of living somewhere new (even going on an adventure!). Some suggest including older PKs in what decision making you can (ie. House layout, box packing codes, sorting their clothing etc) and give them realistic responsibilities that help towards moving so they have a sense of ownership and control over a difficult period of change.

26 May 2015

3 Handy Apps For Clergy Families

After scouring the Internet, reading articles like 'the top 25 (or 50!) best productivity apps of 2015' and downloading the best, we finally settled on the top 3 apps we believe would help clergy families (of all shapes and sizes) out the most! Bonus? They're all free and usable on your computers, tablets and phones!

This one is very versatile! Once we set up an email account, we could dive right in! I made a tickable shopping lists (which I emailled to Matt while he was at the shops!), took a photo of a decorative idea for an upcoming event (including a note on the name and how to make it), created a page of notes which I saved and emailled to a ministry colleague, and finally made a quick-to-access board so all these items were on one page. They walk you through everything and help you set up a notification system where they will email you so you don't forget something. Nifty!

14 May 2015

"So How Are You, Really?!"

There's always the polite "how are you?"  that all Aussies ask but many people at church have the wonderful ability to cut through the polite and get to the real stuff. It can be the start of great, genuine conversations that make people feel welcome, cared for and loved. Unfortunately while I've often heard clergy asking this question, I rarely heard it being asked in return.

25 April 2015

It's My Job To Seduce The Pastor (Marriage Advice From Pastor's Wives)

The title below caught my attention a few months ago - I thought the advice of these pastor's wives was refreshingly original for clergy couples. It does has quite a feminine (perhaps slightly old fashioned) twist but if you read it with a bit of humour the advice is quite practical and playful - and goes both ways. :) What do you think?

23 April 2015

The Magic Begins At 281 (Study Update)

After many hours of sifting through electronic and paper study responses, I'm excited to announce that a whopping 281 people shared their story in our clergy family study. Considering that our goal was 100 participants to maintain anonymity and give a reasonably broad insight into clergy life, we are absolutely thrilled and honoured!

15 April 2015

But I Don't Want To Go (PK Guest Writer)

Everyone's story counts. I'm honoured to share with you this story from an Australian PK about being part of a clergy family. Our prayer is that over time we're able to share more stories from clergy families and encourage others that they aren't alone...

"We moved around way more than I wanted to. I've lived in the city, country and everywhere in-between, and each move was usually decided by my parent in ministry or their boss. Each church had its own quirks and definitely some great times, but they all had one thing in common - an intense curiousity to know all the little details of our lives. We didn't want to share our test results, or who we were dating or how big a fight we had over who got the last piece of chocolate cake. We wanted privacy but couldn't find it.

9 March 2015

Only A Month Left!

**UPDATED: STUDY NOW CLOSED**
Wow, the survey has been open nearly 6 months! It's getting down to 'last chance' notifications which is a bit incredible! A year after beginning to look into doing this study it is coming to a close :) So once it closes on April 16th, what's next?

16 January 2015

2015: Full Of New Ideas!

A very Happy New Year to you! I hope you've all had a wonderful start to the year (and managed to get a holiday in there somewhere, even if it's just a day!). We've started back with the study this week, compiling more responses that came in over the holidays. I've been so humbled by people's willingness to share their stories, and often saddened by how hard a time they have had while in ministry or after they have left it.