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.
- 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.
- Have set places to work so that your spouse knows when you are working and when/where the kids can be. For example, have a particular study table that the kids know that when dad is sitting there, he was working and couldn’t be disturbed. This is helpful for spouses too - the desk = clocked
- Some families work best with a whole day off, others work better with chunks off. Whichever way you choose, be mindful that watching kids, and cooking, and catching up on emails is not a clock off chunk!
- Routines and rituals of family life. Daily routines that you do as a family and rituals once a week that will never include ministry people or outsiders. Like Pizza Fridays, or Game time Saturdays. This helps kids know tht they get to have a dad/mum too.
- Child protection is an issue – some ministry families have such permeable boundaries. Just because you are comfortable with someone because you are providing pastoral care, does not mean your kids should be, or that they are safe with them.
- Marriage: working out confidentiality issues whether to talk about session/leadership issues or not, when you are just a spouse and not a pastor of your wife! Make space for one-on-one time to connect. For example, drop everything at 10pm to have a cup tea together.
- Young kids: Be aware that too much juggling of roles and transition from one into the other is very stressful for them. Build bigger margins. I recommend people print out a schedule and shade in all their commitments. Then they shade in at least 1 hour transition times between switching roles. For example, on Sundays; don’t rush back from service to do dinner-bath-bed. Maybe go for a 30 min run and have a shower first."
What have you tried that works for you and your family? We'd love to hear your ideas.