17 November 2016

Clergy & A Happy Workforce

After chatting about clergy work hours and unions, we wanted to explore the field more, and came across a lecture opportunity too good to turn up! On Monday, we attended a public lecture by Tanja Van Der Lippe, an internationally renowned researcher who specialises in sociology, workplaces, and the impact of workplace productivity.

For the past 5 years, she has been exploring what makes for a sustainable and happy workforce, including the option of working from home. The benefits of conducting such a large study is that her results prove very useful for the general public, enabling organisations to explore better ways to not only become more productive, but also to have satisfied and happy employees (more details on their website here).

3 November 2016

Relax Packs: FAQs

Got a question about our Relax Packs? We've got you covered.

Q: What is a Relax Pack?
A: A package filled with delicious, relaxing, and creative items we send to people in ministry across Australia! We work closely with local artists to create items for you to enjoy, which are constantly being updated with new things for you to enjoy. Every pack has between 8 to 16 items, including chocolates, teas, bookmarks, and specially-designed activities. Each Relax Pack is sent with prayers for your ministry, health, and family, as well as contact details if you'd like support or prayer. Read more (or order one!) here.

Q: Why do you send Relax Packs?

20 October 2016

Part II: Do Clergy Need A Union?

The next question in our 'Embrace The Awkward' series has been on my mind a lot lately. I've noticed over the last couple of years that there are quite a lot of workplace issues for clergy workers relating to wages, hours and workplace safety. This isn't to say that there aren't wonderful policies and pastoral care in place, but there are some definite gaps that I've come across which got me thinking of contacting the Clergy Worker's Union to see what's being done to ensure clergy have fair and safe workplaces.
Except for one problem. There isn't one.

4 October 2016

The Next Book: "The Pastor's Family"

We're always on the hunt for a new book to review and share with you. We want to include ones that are modern, relevant, affordable, and applicable to everyday life. This takes quite a bit of hunting! Some books were written decades ago for different cultures, some are outdated in their ideas, and others, to be honest, seem just a little bit goofy! So we've been hunting for a while....and came across this one:

20 September 2016

Ministry Appreciation Week (FAQs)

Since 2015, we have been celebrating the wonderful things God is doing through Australian ministries and thanking the hard workers who help make them happen! From clergy families through to large Christian organisations, Ministry Appreciation Week recognises and celebrates every community and their ministry each year.

We've got some exciting new celebrations coming in 2017 we can't wait to share with you!

Q: When is Ministry Appreciation Week?
A: Third week of October each year across Australia. In 2017, Ministry Appreciation Week
is held from 16th to 22nd October.

Q: How did Ministry Appreciation Week start?
A: Inspired by clergy appreciation month in America, Ministry Appreciation Week began in 2015 with a few handwritten notes and thank you chocolates! It's now an annual event on our calendar with events, activities and celebrations around Australia. We'd love to join you in celebrating Ministry Appreciation Week this year and hear how you and your ministry community celebrate your year of ministry together!

Q: How do I get involved?

A: We host a range of online activities and events throughout the week and would love to see you there! To see what's happening, stay in touch via Facebook or through our Ministry Appreciation Week page.

Most importantly, celebrate your ministry wherever you are around Australia, in your own way! We would love to learn more about your ministry and community, and share in your celebrations so send us an email or share a photo on social media with the hashtag #celebratingministry! We have some fun, printable media tags you can use, or make your own.

Here's some of our favourite ways to celebrate during Ministry Appreciation Week:
* Laughs and BBQs: Bring your ministry community together for some laughs and sausages to celebrate your year of ministry together
* Send a note of encouragement to your lecturers and registrars at your theological college
* Give a gift or lend a hand to your minister and their family during the week to say thanks for their ministry to you and your church community
* Write a email of thanks to Christian organisations who encourage you each week through Facebook, the radio, magazines or newsletters you receive
* Shout your work team the next round of coffees as a way of saying thanks for another great year together!
* Pay the parking for chaplains who care for people in hospitals, prisons, or schools
* Send a thank you email to Christian aid or missionary organisations who support local and international communities from here in Australia
* Drop in some chocolates to the staff workers who keep the books and admin running smoothly
* Buy afternoon tea for the lay leaders or volunteers who run ministries every week at church
* Post a thankyou note or gift to your regional leader or denominational office who supported you throughout the year
* Treat yourself to some time away or a favourite treat during the week to celebrate!

God is doing amazing things through Australian ministries! We hope you enjoy celebrating this Ministry Appreciation Week; don't forget to send us a picture!

~ Rachel and Matt Stevens

Australian Clergy Families is a community of support and encouragement for those in ministry.

7 September 2016

Part I: Are Clergy Hours Fair?

We're beginning our series of difficult topics this month (Embrace The Awkward!). As part of my research into various subjects,  I came across a rather controversial article written by Thom Rainer (a prominent American clergy worker and researcher) which I thought was worth sharing.

A few years ago he conducted a survey to get an idea of what people in the church thought he should a) do with his time each week and b) how many hours he should dedicate to each one. He listed 20 areas and received the following answers:

24 August 2016

Relax Packs - Bringing The Time Out To You

We know how busy and sometimes stressful ministry life can be, particularly when you can't afford to take time off to enjoy a treat or relaxing between appointments or meetings. It can also be difficult to go out for a break if you live in an isolated area with limited access to coffee shops, beaches to walk on, or spaces to escape to! You don't have to look far to find research suggesting that taking time out is crucial for your mental health and physical well being.

15 August 2016

Some Things Are Difficult To Talk About....

There are always those conversations that seem hard to start, and even more difficult to continue talking about regularly. The awkward half-started chats, the misunderstandings that can come with miscommunicating something or not being on the same page...we've been there! Part of what we aim to do with ACF is to provide a safe space to talk about difficult topics (and ways to dive in and wade through!).
(A fun approach to a difficult situation?! How do you begin a hard chat?)

30 June 2016

7 Ways To Spend More Time With Your Family

No matter where your family is, or how old they are - whether they live at home with you or somewhere else, spending time with them & we know how wonderful it is to spend time with them when you're able! This week we're sharing a creative article by Families For Life that focuses on sharing family time not just with young kids but also teens, couples, grandparents, parents, and extended family. We hope these inspire you to find fun ways to enjoy some quality time together! Here are our top 7...for all 30, visit this article here.
  1. Leave A Message For Your Kids (If you don't have time before work to say good morning, leave them a post-it note or a SMS on their phone to let them know you're thinking of them)

22 June 2016

6 Reasons It's Good To Have You Time

Every now and then, I set myself a culinary challenge. In the past it's been small things like baking cupcakes or cooking a medium-rare roast. But recently, I've dreamed bigger: I'm taking on the perfect scone. I know, it's a big goal but I'm hoping my kitchen & I are up for the challenge! While Matt is more than happy to devour whatever I bake, these challenges are something I do just for me. An article I read by Psychology Today reminded me that doing something just for yourself is vital to ministry, family life & self care. I thought I'd share their 6 reasons in the hope & prayer that they remind you, as they reminded me,  to spend a bit of time, love, and attention on yourself every now and then :) I highly recommend reading their article in full here.
  1. It allows you to reboot your brain and unwind (The ministry lifestyle is intense! I've heard more than one clergy couple say it can feel like it never ends. Letting your mind rest, with no distractions can clear the air and help you see more clearly. Is there a sound, a drink, or a book you enjoy that helps you unwind?)

1 June 2016

10 Ways You Know You're A Pastor's Kid

In my travels to see what other groups are doing for PKs, I came across this fun article that did a pretty great PK quirk summary! Dave Herrmann's article is well worth a read (great use of pictures!) but I thought I'd share it here too (for the original, click here)...any of these sound familiar PKs? :)
1. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you always get the feeling you’re being watched.

27 May 2016

Ministry At Home: 5 Ways To Stay Bug Free!

Our immune system has been fearfully and wonderfully made, and is incredibly robust, but minimising the amount of work it has to do is a great way to stay bug-free. As a former Microbiologist, I thought I'd share 5 easy ways to stay bug-free while doing ministry at home during the flu season. While there are standards for the kitchens of churches these days, there seems to be vague  or non-existent advice when visitors call at the vicarage.

1) The Front Door: The Hand Shake When people enter or leave a house, it’s a natural enough thing to do, and I’m not suggesting not doing it. But preventing possible illness from a hand shake could be as simple as washing your hands afterwards. My favourite trick is a bottle of alcohol sanitiser (no running water needed!) that's stored near the front door (also it's worth keeping a bottle in the car after pastoral visits or church services).

29 April 2016

Relaxation In Ministry Life

"Sometimes when we’re exhausted, we gravitate toward activities that drain us even more. Or we think we don’t deserve to take a break, so we ignore our body’s whispers for rest. But only in helping ourselves can we help others and do good work."  - psychcentral.com

It's hard to make time to relax when the ministry lifestyle is so busy, even the best laid plans go astray if you get an emergency call or your day off rolls around and becomes filled with appointments and errands that just need to get done. The word 'Relax' gets thrown around so often, I decided it was time to look it up and see if it was achieveable. Here's what I found:

16 April 2016

The Pastor's Kids PodCast (PK Resource)

We were recently contacted by The Pastor's Kids PodCast which we're very excited about! It's a new, free podcast coming from the US in an easy-access form that's available online for PKs around the world. It explores different topics and provides ideas about tackling issues relevant to the PK lifestyle. This podcast is such a great idea that we had to let you know about it! It is aimed at late-teens to young adults: with useful pictures, funky music, and a friendly seminar speaker who talks on different topics for 10-30 minutes.

12 March 2016

5 Reasons It's Worth Celebrating!

Everyday events can become so consuming, it becomes difficult to keep up with bigger, once-off events. While researching this month's topic, I came across a wonderful quote that summed things up beautifully: "Never become so busy that you forget that a lifetime only happens once."
I don't know about you but the busier life gets the harder it seems to be able to achieve the goals you set out to, life gets so full! Now I'm not suggesting everything needs a party or lavish gifts! When we celebrate, it's with a nice drink in a nice glass and say "well done!" Doing something special in a way that matters to you is definitely worth the extra time. Ignore those little voices that say "It's not that important",  "I'm just too busy to organise anything".

26 February 2016

6 Ways To Help Stretch The Budget

While every clergy/clergy families' situation, priorities and needs are different, part of our February project (Money in Everyday Life) has been to scope out different resources, ideas, and tools that might help make life a bit easier, particularly as many live on a small income. So here are our top 6 that come tried and tested:
  1. Simple Ways To Save Money - A great website with a huge range of advice, calculators, and problem solving aids. This particular article has simple suggestions that don't interrupt your lifestyle too much like eating a snack before you go grocery shopping (I've tried this, I can tell you it actually works!); If you purchase a new piece of clothing, make sure it suits two other pieces you already own; Find a bank that offers less fees and more interest for your everyday and savings accounts.

27 January 2016

Guest Writer: What I Learnt From Moving.

We are honoured this week to share a personal story from an Australian clergy spouse and their experience of moving. If you would like to share your story (anonymously or otherwise), please contact us - we always want to hear from you.
A Moving Experience:
We’ve all experienced light bulb moments: sudden insights which stay with us because of their clarity and impact. I had one such moment in the summer of 2007.

16 January 2016

4 Helpful Moving Resources!

I have a rather extensive experience of moving, and quickly learnt there are there are certain skills you acquire through experience - such as setting up the bed first (much nicer than sleeping on a floor mattress with clothing for blankets! Over the past few weeks we have been compiling a list of useful lists and websites we hope might help those of you on the move:

1) Meals: 51 Fast & Healthy 3-Ingredient Meals - A very handy list that need little prep and few instructions! Add their 3 ingredients together (mostly needing an oven or microwave at the most) and you have some very yummy meals. Some favourites are No. 13 Baked BBQ Chicken, Sweet Potatoes; No. 8 1 Minute Microwave Ham & Eggs & No. 27 Sasusage Stuffed Zuchinni. Each one has a link to the recipe (if you need it!)

7 January 2016

What's ACF Up To Now?!

We've been readying ACF for another year of blogging, researching and supporting clergy and their families and wanted to let you in on what will be happening this year. On a side note, last January, we began 2015 with three goals for growing ACF which I'm excited to say are now all part of what we do:
1) Clergy Family Appreciation Month (October 2015)
2) Cheers Mate’ Packages (Note: Updated in 2016 to Relax Packs!)
3) Extending Our Care Network (We now run an online support group)

With 2016 beginning, we are hoping to continue building on the above projects but wanted to include a few new things too! This year at ACF we are working towards: