19 January 2017

The Pastor's Family (Book Review)

It takes a lot for a book to get on my reading list. I have very strict criteria that it must meet before I’ll open the first page – in case you’re wondering here’s what this book had to go through just to get on the shelf. And I'm excited to say it did not disappoint! My only concern is that with a book so jam-packed with helpful guidance how am I going to do it justice in a short amount of time?!

The Pastor's Family is written by an American clergy couple who know how little free time their audience has, and are keen to create an easy-to-read, personal, resource book for clergy couples. It's also a short read, always a bonus if you can only pick it up for 10 minutes at a time :)

Each chapter is written by Brian (Pastor) or Cara (his wife) focusing on creating and managing a balance between ministry and family life. They cover the roles you find yourself in in ministry, the importance of your marriage relationship, and the importance of your calling - which includes being called to be a family separate to ministry.
It's filled with personal stories, experiences, and advice relating to boundaries, time management, spending time with your family away from ministry, while sharing the journey together. At the end of each chapter there are some great, and often challenging, questions that individuals, couples, and families can talk about.

I was particularly encouraged not only by Brian’s use of the bible, which had some familiar and unique verses but also his encouraging and thorough research into the personal experiences of well-known clergy and missionaries throughout history, including Billy Graham, Jonathan Edwards, and John Wesley, to name a few.

At times they take quite a hard line with pastors, talking about falling into the sin of neglecting their families and focusing too much on ministry. However this is always done in the context of the hope that comes from God's saving grace. I think this could be a welcome, but difficult, wake up call, if you find your family relationships are heading this way. Helpfully, they give a great list of warning signs that are worth looking through.

It's useful to take their advice as suggestions; not everything will work for you or your family. Some advice for pastor's wives seems a little traditional, but I know it comes from a wife with over 10 years of experience who encourages women to make a role that suits who they are, not to fit in with what others expect. Encouragingly, pastor's kids are given a lot of room in this book, especially relating to the importance of nurturing their faith and helping them understand ministry. There are some great suggestions about involving PKs in ministry (some of which I find a bit extreme, such as sermon writing!),  but also some wonderful ideas on spending time with them.

The overwhelming message I take away from this is the plea for clergy to not make the same mistakes that others have in the past by neglecting their families. While you may have an effective and powerful ministry, Brian and Cara point out clearly that if it is at the expense of your family, it’s often not worth it. 

I found it personal, helpful, and inspiring. It empowers the reader to face the difficulties of ministry, with the help and comfort of those who have gone before them.

Which is why we want to share three copies of this book with clergy families around Australia.


**Closed** If you'd like the opportunity to receive a copy of The Pastor's Family, send us an email with your name, or 'Like' the Resource Giveaway picture on our Facebook page.
Open from Jan 9th - 13th 2017!

It is also available through Book Depository, click here.
Let us know what you think of it :)
~ Rachel

www.australianclergyfamilies.com -- a community of support & encouragement