Katy Perry is one of the most famous and influential pop stars of our culture. She has been vocal that she is no longer a Christian and doesn’t believe some old guy is ruling the world. Currently Katy Perry has 57 million plus followers on Twitter listening to her every tweet and the message that she is selling. How did Katy’s life take such a turn from Christianity as she grew up as a pastor’s kid?
There are many stories of church worker kids who have taken a pretty drastic turn in their faith life as adults. The Barna Group has done some research on church worker kids and found that:
- 40% have gone through a period where they significantly questioned their faith
- 33% are no longer active in church
- 7% no longer consider themselves Christian
They went on to ask kids what were some of the big regrets they have growing up in a Christian home and these were the overwhelming themes.
- Unrealistic expectations were placed on them
- Father or mother were too busy at church
- Negative experiences at church
- What was preached at church was not modeled at home.
One of the great joys I have as a father of four ranging from 3 years to 13 is that currently they love their church home. They’re excited to go on Sunday mornings and for other activities during the week. One of my constant prayers is that they continue to fall deeply in love with Jesus as their solid foundation.
I am challenged by conversations I have had with other adults who grew up in church working families who felt cheated. It has helped me and my wife Kristin to develop some key practices within our family.
- We don’t expect anything more or less out of them because they are church worker kids.
We know there are some in our congregation that believe our kids and family should be the model for everyone on how to behave. We have told our kids that our expectations of their behavior and character are not based on my position but on who we want them to be. They see me model vulnerability with our congregation that there are areas in my life and in our family’s life where we struggle, too. I respect their personal struggles by not using them as teaching points in sermons unless I get their permission.
- We want our kids to have significant relationships with others in our church.
One of the most significant things youth and children can have is a group of adults who know them by name and invest in them. One of my goals for our church is that every youth has five different adults who know and call them by their name anytime they come to church. We have made it a priority to ask other adults to invest in our kids and create relationships with them. The Hayden’s take our kids twice a year for a weekend of fun while Kristin and I get away. The Doyle’s have taken our kids and taught them different skills. Carol has taken our daughters and taught them how to knit. Kevin has worked with my oldest son in his workshop to make a Christmas gift for his sister. The Frost’s have shown up to our kids’ games to cheer them on. Dave invited my son to play fantasy football and uses this as a relational connection point. We love walking into church and watching our kids head for those relationships. We have been bold in asking and quick to show our appreciation for their investment.
- We want them to know that if they need us we will be there.
The biggest struggle and complaint I have heard from both kids of and church workers themselves is the struggle of balance. I want my kids to know they are a priority and not a left-over. I make it a priority to be at their games and activities. I schedule daddy and daughter date nights or boys night out for that special one-on-one time. Those are crucial opportunities to work on our relationship, communication and trust. I have developed important rituals that meld interest and opportunity. My son and I have the hard conversations around chicken wings and a sports game using halftime for those talks. We celebrate key transitions by going for dessert with my daughter after middle school open house. It gives us a chance to talk about her hopes and fears of middle school while we waiting for the double fudge ice cream sundae.
Once a year I ask each of them if there is something I could do better for them as their father. I have learned a lot about their heart and our family balance from that question. Because of this intentionality they are more forgiving when a situation at church comes up and I have to miss something. It’s important that those are the exception moments and not the rule.
- We want to practice a Family Sabbath Day Together. Our family needs one day a week to have intentional time together. We Sabbath on Sundays and start with a place our kids love to go, church. We spend our afternoon celebrating relationships. We cook together, play games together, throw or kick the ball around, watch the game together or watch a movie. We invite our friends or neighbors over, deepening those relationships with lots of laughter, food and fun. When we get this one day together we can see a positive difference in their frame of mind heading into the next school week.
- We want them to know that we are praying for them. As 1 John 4:4 reminds us, these four beautiful kids were created by and from God and greater is the one who is in them than he who is in the world. Every day I have my alarm on my phone set for noon to reminds me to pray for my wife and my kids. It’s my time to stop my work and lift up their days, their activities, their friendships and their teachers. It’s my daily reminder that they are His kids and to seek His guidance and wisdom.
I wonder what happened to Katy Perry that she has gone so far from her Christian roots. I pray that Katy could discover the powerful love of Jesus in her own life, sharing it with the 57 million people following her on Twitter. As our kids grow older and face more temptations and trials my prayer is that their church would be a sanctuary. I pray that their relationships would be a source of the Holy Spirit’s movement. I pray that our family Sabbaths and rituals would be meaningful and carry on to their families. And mostly I pray that they continue to be followers and disciples of Jesus.