4 Unexpected Finds of Clergy Family Life

Written by Matt

Our research project, 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. So here’s four points that struck me the most.

1) 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.

2) 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 activity use of their home.
The fact that those who state no change was needed also indicated that their reason was
that they had this separation made this a shockingly clear message to me: A separation of ministry from clergy home life, in various forms, was clearly their highest priority, and it can
be achieved. I would be very interested in finding out more about how this separation was managed from those who said they were happy with their home use.

3) Deep Expectations

Another point that struck me was the fact that some expectations existed at all for clergy spouses and children. Expectations regarding the faith and identity of the clergy children
and clergy spouses, based solely upon their role, were concerning. They suggested to me that not only was behaviour to be customised to suit to each church setting, but that deeply held facets of who they are, were to reflect other people's beliefs, rather than their own
God-given attributes and choices. I wonder at the type of pressure these expectations
might put on clergy family members, and would like to know more about how spouses
and children feel about them.

4) Understanding The Clergy Family

Lastly I found it sad just how many clergy spouses and children felt that who they were,
apart from their clergy family role, was frequently misunderstood. Their responses were similar to those which inspired our paper and reinforced to me how vital this research is
and how important it will be to continue to have conversations with clergy families around Australia about the unique joys and challenges of their lifestyle. Responses such as these inspired our creation of this website and the many Topical Articles you'll find here that encourage openness about the realities of clergy family life.

Doing this research has encouraged me to want to further engage with clergy families, understand the unique journey that God has given them, and help facilitate the best
support possible for them.

If there's any way that we can support you in your ministry, please feel free to contact us.