Australian Clergy Families began as many ideas do, with curiousity. Among other questions about the influences of ministry on clergy families, I wondered if there were housing standards that had to be met for a house to be considered suitable for both ministry and family life. Turns out, there are - and extensive ones at that! After getting my hands on one of these documents outlining the 'must haves', Matt & I attempted to draw one, and soon found ourselves lost in an unusual labyrinth of requests. Gardens overlooking kitchens, multiple bathrooms and sheds, 5 rooms, verandas of specific lengths...it began to feel like even Pemberley might not match up!
I'll be the first to admit I'm not an architect and our picture isn't exactly legible, but it did give us a starting point! We began exploring the cost of owning, and maintaining, such large houses. To our surprise, after researching the current market, average house sizes and regular availability of houses that met these minimum requirements, we found that very few churches could afford these costs, let alone owning one in more urban areas!
So our question remained: How could such housing standards be met to ensure ministry and family life could co-exist if the houses needed couldn't be afforded?
Surely something would have to give if the houses weren't at that standard - and our guess is it wouldn't be the ministry activities.
We are currently working on a small project exploring what clergy housing standards are across prominent church denominations in an attempt to better understand the ministry housing challenges and if new standards are needed across the board to help better care for clergy families better, and ensure ministry is a safe and enjoyable activity in the home. We're also hoping to produce a 3D replica to make up for our barely legible first attempt!
In the meantime, we decided to explore how homes were used for ministry, regardless of how they are designed. Part one of our Australian study focuses on this particular dimension of ministry. Problem is, there's only anecdotal data available to even suggest that homes ARE used for ministry, let alone how, so our research has to answer that question first, before we can fully explore the how.
So we thought we'd share this funny and accurate cartoon to kick start the conversation!
What do you think?! Is your home used this way? Do ministry and family life happily co-exist? If you needed to, what would you change about the clergy house?
We hope to share some of our informal research and designs soon, as well as the results of our official study. Until then, we would love to hear your thoughts!
www.australianclergyfamilies.com -- a community of support & encouragement