Replanting as a Family

By Caleb Duncan

When I was 12 years old, I saw down in the living room with my mom, dad, brother and sister. My dad had called a family powwow, and it seemed important. “Kids,” he said,” Me and your mother love you all. And I want you to know that God is calling your dad to serve another church.”

My dad had been serving at Bethel Baptist Church in Sycamore, Georgia, since before I was born, and we would be leaving the church where I had grown up to move to a new town. As a 12-year-old, that move was difficult, but also exciting. From a young age, it taught me that my dad’s call to ministry involved the whole family.

On a recent special episode  of “Replant Bootcamp,” Jimbo Stewart had his whole family on the channel to talk about the joys and challenges of having a family during a replant. If you haven’t listened, I encourage you to listen to this one and take special note of a replant from his children’s perspective. These are good things to know, not just for replanters but for all ministers and church leaders.

To summarize, I’ll give you four topics of the conversation.

1. Making quality time with your kids

As your children grow up, what they will remember most and have the most significant impact on them is the time you have spent with them. Life is busy, and ministry is full-time, no matter what your job description entails. It seems like, in ministry, it is extra difficult to “leave work at home.” Though my children are 3 years old and 6 months old, they already have spent countless hours with my wife and me at the church on weekends or at my office for a few extra hours.

There are times when that is necessary. We have full-time roles, and there are projects to complete and things to take care of. But when we get home after a long day, we put our phones away and spend quality time with our kids. For our 6-month-old, it’s lying on the floor, having face-time with her, holding her and caring for her. For our 3-year-old, it’s playing with monster trucks and cars, running around outside and watering the plants together. Our kids will remember those small moments, and it instills in them the love and care we have for them.

Maybe your kids are older. Sometimes, we forget that while our kids have different likes and interests, we can always put away our “things” and spend quality time with them. Don’t neglect quality time. Occasionally, we must put the phone or TV away, play some games and do some silly dances with our kiddos. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Being present at home

Another way we can be intentional with our families is by being present at home. It is possible to be home without being at home. For example, we can be home but checking work emails or working on your next sermon during family dinner to catch up. We must remember that our first ministry is always to our family. That extra 20 minutes for sermon prep may have to be put off. I would rather have an underdeveloped sermon than neglect my family.

Focusing on our pastoral ministry does not have to come at the expense of our family ministry. This is why time management and balance are so important. If you must, schedule every hour of your day so you can schedule time to be present and intentional with your family. For the sake of family time, we must learn to say “Not this time” when ministry opportunities present themselves.

3. Raising them with grace

Another great insight shared in this podcast was raising your kids to be good kids but not raising them to be a “pastor’s kid.” What do we mean? Children in ministry must not be raised with the impossible expectation of being a perfect, rule-following child as an example for other kids. In other words, we must not expect them to be ideal role models for the rest of the kids. Sometimes, we put high religious expectations on our kids, and they fear imperfection and feel weight no child should bear.

We must raise our kids to be great kids, not perfect kids. Yes, others will look at them and watch their lives. But we should normalize authenticity and grace, rather than a facade of perfection we cannot maintain.

4. Creating core values

At the end of this episode, the Stewart family began discussing their core values. I talked about this concept with Jimbo and loved their ideas. After he and his wife talked about how to raise their children, they came up with some core values they would instill at a young age and include in meaningful conversations with them. The four values they chose were respect, integrity, self-control and joyfulness.

As each kid spoke, it became apparent this was a significant part of their upbringing. I want to encourage you to implement the same thing to with your family. Even if your kids are preteens or teenagers, you can still do this.

Whether you are looking for a better work/life balance, learning how to lead your family spiritually or struggling relationally at home, a good starting point is recognizing that if you have a family, your family is your first ministry.

Let us know how we can encourage you to find the necessary balance in this pursuit.

You can connect with NAMB Replant here.

Published June 11, 2024

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