Recently Wesleyan Accent posed a couple of questions to pastors and their spouses about how they pray for their children while in ministry, and how they choose to shape their kids’ experience of vocational ministry. Here are their responses.
What are some ways you prayed for your children while they were growing up as you served in ministry?
Rev. Carolyn Moore: My husband and I have prayed together every night for most of our daughter’s life. When she was young, she’d crawl into our bed with us before going off to her own, and we would pray over her. We always prayed for God’s hand over her life, and we prayed for her future spouse. As she got older, she always knew we were there, praying for her, night after night. Of course, she prayed with us over our church and we prayed with her over things she was involved with at church. She grew up knowing the language of prayer, and feeling comfortable with prayer.
Rev. Andy Stoddard: We as a family gather together in one of our children’s rooms, we read a passage, talk about it for minute, and then we pray and go to bed. I’ve often wondered if we should do more. But for us as a family, this little routine works for us. We try to be real people who love Jesus, not spiritually perfect saints. My daughter and I on the way to school listen to Christian music on K-Love, but we are just as likely to listen to Taylor Swift or some other Top 40 song.
Rev. Adam Lipscomb: Lately we’ve been praying that they just understand how deeply God loves them.
Rev. Kelli Ward: We’ve discussed our prayers for our children and how we pray for our children to have a healthy understanding of the church. That they would have a healthy understanding of church as a family, complete with struggles and victories, grief and celebration.
Rev. John Gargis: I pray they land in an area of life that they enjoy and fit their spiritual gifts. I pray they are a light.
Dr. Otis T. McMillan: Below is a sample of the prayer we prayed for our children and with our children. Barbara and I had weekly Bible study in our home:
Father God, although you have entrusted these children to us as a gift, we know they belong to you. Like Hannah offered Samuel, we dedicate our children to you, Lord. We recognize that they are always in your care. Help us as parents, Lord, with our weaknesses and imperfections. Give us strength and godly wisdom to raise these children after your Holy Word. Please, supply supernaturally what we lack. Keep our children walking on the path that leads to eternal life. Help them to overcome the temptations of this world and the sin that would so easily entangle them.
Dear God, send your Holy Spirit daily to lead, guide, and counsel them. Always assist them to grow in wisdom and stature, in grace and knowledge, in kindness, compassion and love. May our children serve you faithfully, with their whole heart devoted to you all the days of their lives. May they discover the joy of your presence through daily relationship with your Son, Jesus. May they become part of the solution in this world but never a part of the problems. Help us never to hold on too tightly to these children, nor neglect our responsibilities before you as parents.
Lord, let our commitment to raise these children be for the glory of your name. Cause their lives forever to be a testimony of your faithfulness. In the name of Jesus, I pray.
Did you deliberately shape their exposure to ministry and church life?
Dr. David Smith: Angie and I did not separate ministry into a compartment. We simply did “Kingdom life together” with our entire family. They were never excluded from the hard stuff and always were able to celebrate the high points. It seems to be a better reflection of what life is like; fully integrated in the walk of faith.
Rev. Adam Lipscomb: There have been times, especially early in the church plant, when we had people specifically assigned to them for Sunday mornings, one on one. We were both busy on Sunday mornings doing all the pastor/connect stuff.
I’ve made sure that I intentionally disciple the boys outside of church. For me, when we meet one on one, I took them through the story of the Bible and we had a little rhyme to keep the major stories in place in their heads. Our oldest son loves the Action Bible. When they were younger, we read through the Jesus storybook Bible.
Rev. Carolyn Moore: Not really, though we didn’t make her show up for every single thing. And we certainly never required that she act in a certain way around church people. We wanted her to have a genuine experience of community. She never questioned that she would be in church on Sunday mornings and at youth group on Sunday evenings. And she was always very comfortable with the people who came to our home for meals and groups. She would say that Mosaic helped raise her, and that the authenticity of that community shaped her understanding of “good church.”
Rev. John Gargis: My focus is Celebrate Recovery. They have seen people make it…not make it…and even go on to glory.
Rev. Kelli Ward: We have been deliberate in shaping their exposure. But in more ways, we have endeavored to be consistent in our own integrity. For instance, we don’t talk negatively about the parishioners in front of the children, not because we reserve those conversations for times when they are not around, but rather because we prayerfully look to God to transform our hearts in negative situations.
Rev. David Drury: I have used some ministry experiences to expose my kids to things others don’t get the opportunity to do. I see them as helpful windows into my ministry, so they understand what I do, and also just to help them be better Christians. So I have taken them with me on hospital visits, to pray with people, to funerals, etc.
Rev. Andy Stoddard: For our family in ministry, we try as best as we can to be authentic. My wife and I try our very best not to be spiritually two-faced. We try to act the same, live the same, talk the same, be the same at home as we are in church. I will not act imperfect in my “real” life and then act perfect in my “preacher” life. I try to own my brokenness and imperfection as a preacher. we just try to be real in our faith, authentically Christian. And my hope is that will lead my children to love the church as much as I do.
*Rev. Carolyn Moore is the Founding Pastor of Mosaic UMC in Evans, Georgia.
*Rev. Andy Stoddard is the Lead Pastor at St. Matthew’s UMC in Madison, Mississippi.
*Rev. Adam Lipscomb pastors City Life Church, a Wesleyan congregation, with his wife Rev. Christy Lipscomb in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
*Rev. Kelli Ward is Connections Pastor at Forest Hills Wesleyan Church in Evansville, Indiana., where her husband Rev. Wayne Ward also ministers as Associate Pastor.
*Rev. John Gargis is Associate Pastor of Evangelism at Fountain City UMC in Knoxville, Tennessee.
*Dr. Otis T. McMillan is the Director of Evangelism in the A.M.E. Zion church.
*Dr. David Smith is Dean of Wesley Seminary in Marion, Indiana.
*Rev. David Drury is Chief of Staff for the General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church.