This summer will be 5 years that I have been here at CCF. Over those 5 years I have navigated some very unique waters with my family being in the church (or should I say me leading in their church). Together, we have experienced drama, pain, joy, confusion, excitement, fear, honor, uncertainty and passion for God and Church! We began attending CCF in 1995 at Capitol College. We have been involved and committed through the years (with the exception of time when I was at college and my family was at another ministry). As you may or may not know, some of my family is involved in volunteer ministry (Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother-in-Law, Sister-in-Law) in various ways at CCF and others have recently been hired as part time Staff (Caleb and Tricia).
For some, this is difficult to embrace. I know that. I knew that years ago. I knew that when we made the hires this year. My family knows that. Some people have been hurt in the past by churches run by a family that felt like a dynasty. That left them with a bad taste in their mouth and hesitation when they see lots of one family in leadership. I understand that. We have actually experienced that ourselves in a previous church experience. Others may be afraid that too many decisions will be made at dinner tables and holiday gatherings. Others may struggle with trust. If I confide in one family member, will they all know? These are real questions that do not deserve to be ignored, but rather paid attention to. They, however, are not questions that should disqualify a call, but they should serve to provide increased accountability and wisdom.
Allow me to say that throughout the last 4.5 years myself and my family have put a lot of effort forth into seeking wisdom on the most healthy ways to navigate family and ministry. I have read books, articles, had phone calls and even traveled to South Carolina to a church with 12 family members on one staff and sat at their feet to learn. I have remained convinced that it CAN work and that it WILL work and that we will use our journey of navigating family and ministry to help other families in similar situations.
So, understanding that I am still learning, growing and changing in this area, I have resolved the following things as of today:
- I am ONE BLESSED MAN to have a family that loves me, loves Jesus and wants to serve in the church. I will not and should not apologize for it. What Christian under the sun should be ashamed of that?!
- I will strive to Pastor my family as I would anyone else in this ministry. Just as I want to call forth and release gifts in other members, I will do so in my family. Ephesians 4:11-13 defines every member ministry. NOT, every member ministry...except the Pastor's family.
- I will honor my family, not hide them. I will celebrate them, not conceal them. (They know that this is a big step ahead for me as I used to try to keep them on the DL so no one would get upset because my family did too much.)
- We will strive to be sensitive to the needs and contributions of others in this great community.
- We will guard against monopolies and be cautious of excessive ownership. This church is God's...His people...His community. It will never belong to a Staff, a Board or a Family.
- We will guard against engaging gossip, practicing pillow talk or taking sides by trying to live as Disciples and according to Scripture.
- We have established accountability relationships with non-family members who are Christian leaders and will assist us in achieving the highest level of integrity in these unique ministry/family relationships! Don't think for a minute that we did not put a lot of thought and prayer into this first!