Because we are the family of a minister doesn’t mean that we have no voice
I found what Christina said interesting
. Her reflection is valid if the church accepts the ministerial family as a whole, listens to and cares for them as people, and not just appendages of the minister – whether male or female.
We, as manse families, must not be taken for granted, as unpaid church workers (unless God has given us a particular ministry), nor be presumed on to join or lead groups that are not within the scope of our talents or interests. Because we are the family of a minister doesn’t mean that we have no voice and must acquiesce to the expectations of the church. This applies particularly to children & young people, as well as spouses. How many manse kids have been chased away from God because of church expectations?
I have had a horrible experience in one church where the atmosphere was toxic. There was gossip, different power bases and rejection of new people and ideas, of children and young people; although they moaned about not having any! Few new people were welcomed or accepted, they weren’t listened to, nor talents used, because of the powerful families and groups within the church who wanted to rule the roost. The picture painted by the church profile, the interview and the huge crowd at the initial church meeting we attended, was totally different from the reality once we had moved in. I know the beginning of a ministry is often glossy and positive but it was very sad, when a church is not honest.
Although I supported my husband I found it difficult to worship in such an atmosphere. The God- given gifts and training I had, were not used. I felt that I was walking on eggshells in a darkened room. I found release in linking with 2 other denominations and a secular arts foundation. I became quite depressed and dreaded going to church each week. If I was an ordinary person, attending a different church would not have been blinked at, but as a minister’s spouse!! Is that fair?
It got to the stage where I was going to leave, after years of praying, trying to accept and support my husband. My spiritual life was beginning to wither. A local vicar on the estate where we lived, asked me to help her set up “Messy Church.” This would give me a good excuse to escape and use my skills. It didn’t happen, as God called us away to another church before we got as far as a proper planning meeting for the new venture by the Anglicans on our estate. God got me out of what would have been an embarrassing position for my husband – not for me!
I’m pleased to say that here I have been welcomed for being me, my interests and talents are used, with my permission and not presumed on. It is also recognised that I am my own person with my own life, not an appendage to my husband, or an unpaid full-time church worker. No church is perfect but I am accepted. I wish all churches were like this.
I married my husband, not his job – he wasn’t a minister when we married anyway! We, as manse families should not be presumed upon, nor have expectations that bear no relation to who we are as people, and how we walk with God, forced upon us.
The aim of Manse Life is to raise the profile of what personal life is like for a minister, and ground it in reality. We are doing this because ministry life is unique. There are incredible joys, amazing privileges, and inspiring times. These are all brilliant. There is also heartache; fear, frustration, loss, relocation to name a few and there is often no recourse for these feelings. By providing an outlet for people to write constructively about their personal experiences at home and church and share these in a positive environment we believe will bring hope and a sense of perspective. It will help people feel less isolated, to find common ground, to reflect, provoke thought, spur faith, share ideas and best practice, and to raise a smile.
Manse Life is totally inclusive whatever your personal and family circumstance and whether you live in a manse or not. For those who do have immediate family around them, they too are very welcome to contribute.
To contribute an article, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to share anonymously, we will ensure no names are mentioned.