26 October 2017

Clergy Family Life: 4 Things I Didn’t See Coming

It’s funny how a few simple conversations can be the start of something bigger. This research wouldn’t have started, or been completed, if it wasn’t for two incredible women God introduced me to through our chats with clergy families. The first was a hard-working ministry wife with 5 kids. Exhausted by the need for another ministry move, she explained how much she enjoyed ministry, but was tired of how little people understood the financial, spiritual, and personal costs that often came with it. I’m so grateful for this conversation; she inspired us to learn more about clergy family life. The second woman was an 18-year-old clergy child (PK). When our survey first opened she wasn’t old enough to participate; but she waited until the final month, when she'd turned 18, and told us about her experience. I won’t soften it, she was distraught. She told us how hard it was as a PK to be misunderstood and unseen as the person she was because of the expectations of others. As difficult as it was for her to tell us about her life, I’m continually inspired by her bravery to speak up, even though she was certain no one would want to hear about it.

20 October 2017

4 Unexpected Discoveries About Clergy Family Life In Australia

Doing Ministry Together has been amazing to be part of and has given me many opportunities to better understand the intricacies of clergy family life. Four points struck me the most.
Consistency of Experience
I was amazed that the experiences of clergy spouses and children were so similar across denominations and generations. The fact that they are so similar regardless of these factors impressed on me just how important this research is to help churches all around Australia to understand how ministry does affect clergy families. 

Home Life Respected
I was surprised just how important appropriate separation of family and ministry spaces was to clergy spouses and children. From the reading we had done, I expected far more of a priority to be placed upon the condition of the housing supplied. Instead, we see families most commonly wanting to have more control over the ministry use of their home. I was shocked to discover that those who did not want things to change actually had a separation between ministry and family life. This sent a clear message to me: that separation of ministry from home life was their highest priority - and it can be achieved.
I’d be very interested in finding out more about how this separation was managed from those who said they were happy with their home use.

10 October 2017

Inside Out & Clergy Families (Review)

What if your emotions were really people? What sort of conversations would they have when it came to a new situation? And what if, like many clergy families, moving house was a difficult change you had to deal with? Well, in Inside Out, this is exactly what 11-year-old Riley has to tackle as her family moves to a new city for her dad’s work. She leaves so much that is familiar and we get a front row seat to the way her mind grapples with this. 

The characters representing Riley emotions are comical and honest: Anger is short-tempered and fiery, Happiness is unstoppably optimistic, and Sadness mopes in true Eeyore fashion. They negotiate for ultimate influence over Riley’s experiences and memories, and are challenged by moving house and community to decide who will be in charge of the response Riley has at different times – or might it be more than one of them at once?

This is an excellent movie for understanding the range of emotions children, and indirectly parents, can have as they move home: an excellent resource for those wanting to understand the emotionally challenging world of the frequently relocating clergy family. As we travel along with Riley on her difficult journey we discover how she feels about what’s happening, and why it’s important to listen to these feelings. 

Inside Out does great justice to the complexity and deeply personal loss of leaving what has been known for so long and setting out on a new path. This movie is a great conversation starter for clergy families, particularly clergy kids, providing the opportunity to chat about how they feel about ministry life, or having to move for the sake of ministry. As clergy kids and their families face the challenge of change in their ministry context, this movie represents a concerted effort to understand the experience of kids in change, a sentiment reflective to me of true biblical concern for the least amongst us (1 Corinthians 12:21-25).

I hope you get the opportunity to see this movie. You’ll laugh, may need a couple of tissues, and will see a great story about change and emotions, and understanding them from the inside out.

Note: We loved this movie so much, it’s on our Resource Giveaway short list!

www.australianclergyfamilies.com -- a community of support & encouragement for those in ministry

9 October 2017

Practical Ministry & Moving Tool (App Review)

When we first began Australian Clergy Families, we thought it would be a great idea to create an adaptable app that was easy for people in ministry to use which could quickly tell you where the nearest doctor, takeaway, petrol station or school was without having to do a lot of leg work on top of moving or driving to other towns for meetings and events.

Turns out, it already exists! You might already have it, but we love this great, free app and have found it incredibly nifty when visiting a new area, just after moving - or if you're like me and tend to get lost on new roads!

Size: 38.7 MB
Cost: Free
Available On: Android & iDevices

Incredibly easy to use and download, we ran a few tests to see how if it was up for the Australian terrain challenge! We found the nearest petrol station to Coober Pedy, a fish and chip shop in Adelaide, and the closest hospital in Launceston. They even include opening hours, star ratings, website details, and show you where it is on the map.

With the busy end-of-year season approaching, which always includes more travel than normal, we hope this app gives you a friendly helping hand. If you've used it before in your ministry travels, we'd love to know what you think of it!

~ Rachel

www.australianclergyfamilies.com -- a community of support & encouragement for those in ministry

15 September 2017

What's Next: Upcoming Series!

Since launching our paper, Doing Ministry Together, earlier this month we've been asked a few times what our next project will be! Well, we're excited to share with you that starting in early 2018, the second part of our research project will be available here through Catalyst!

Through a series of articles, we'll be exploring key topics from our paper, including the impact particular issues may have on clergy families, what field experts and other research has to say, and some helpful ideas and applications.

This series will include subjects like:

Switching Off: The importance of privacy in the
clergy family home
Support & Being Supported: How clergy families
care for each other
Conflicting Family Beliefs: The value of being
on the same page
Understanding Being Misunderstood: How to
address expectations and misunderstandings
Church Life: Embracing your unique place in
God's church

We're looking forward to sharing these topics, and others, with you in 2018. In the meantime, we're working on some fun new projects (details soon!) and can't wait to celebrate Ministry Appreciation Week with you in October!

We're so grateful and humbled to hear that this research is already helping individuals, professionals, and organisations find new ways to care for the clergy families that they know and support. Our hope and prayer is that this will inspire further research and many conversations over the coming months! If we can help you in any way, through prayer, conversation or resources, please let us know.

We know there's so much more to understand about clergy family life in here Australia, and can't wait to keep learning with you! #ACFlife

To read our latest research (Doing Ministry Together: Life in an Australian clergy family), click here.

Australian Clergy Families is a community of support and encouragement

4 September 2017

New Australian Research Now Available!

We're very excited to announce that our latest research paper, Doing Ministry Together: Life in an Australian Clergy Family, is now available!! You can download a free copy or request one of these free printed versions (http://www.australianclergyfamilies.com/publications).

Thank you to everyone who supported this project over the last few years. We couldn't have done it without you!

Blessings, Matt & Rachel Stevens 


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

1 August 2017

Melbourne Research Launch Event!


 We're excited to announce our upcoming Research Launch Event!

While we'll be publishing our paper online on our website, we're also holding a launch event here in Melbourne where we will share the results of our findings, enjoy a great afternoon tea and conversation about ministry and clergy family life.

We are so grateful to everyone who has contributed to this project, particularly the Christian Research Association Ethics Committee and those who generously contributed their expertise and experience throughout the project.

With growing interest in clergy family life and well-being here in Australia, we wanted to take the opportunity to share these results with personally and tell you a bit about the people behind the study as well as their overall experience of ministry and clergy family life. We would love if you could join us on Saturday 2nd September at St Columb's Anglican Church, Hawthorn.

There will be an opportunity to ask us any questions you might have and take home your own copy of the official paper.

This Launch Event is part of our ongoing #ACFlife conversation. We will continue to work towards future groups and events and would love to speak with you or your organisation if you're interested receiving the results of our study.

We're looking forward to seeing you on Saturday 2nd September! A warm thank you to St Columb's Anglican Church, Hawthorn for hosting us for this event. Free tickets are already being reserved, so make sure you get yours through EventBrite at www.doingministrytogether.eventbrite.com.au.

If you would like more details about this project or to meet the people behind our study, please visit our Publications page (www.australianclergyfamilies.com/publications).

~ Matt & Rachel Stevens

www.australianclergyfamilies.com -- a community of support & encouragement for those in ministry