Just read this on a blog about caring for pastor’s wives. The entry has some very helpful advice on how churches can care for their pastor’s wives better. However it did strike me again that although great advice is given, once more the fundamental structures on mordern western ministry are not being questioned.

There is also the reality that the pastor and his family works, lives, breathes, relates, ministers, etc. in the church. There is no ‘escape’- and this is fraught with pressure, fear, and unrealistic expectations.”

Surely there is something wrong, not just with how the congregation are treating the pastor’s family, but with the very structures themselves when thoughts of ‘escape’ from our church families even enter our minds. I just can’t imagine Paul ever thinking of ways he could ‘escape’ from the churches he was working with. In fact he seems to talk in quite the opposite way – he can’t wait to be with the people! “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes? Is it not you?” “For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.” (1 Thess 2:19; 3:8) Thessalonians also revealed that Paul ‘worked, lived, breathed, related, ministered, etc. in the church’. He reminds the church how he not only shared the gospel but also his life with them. But there is no hint in his tone that he thought that this was something that he needed ‘escape’ from.

When was the last time we felt so passionately about our church families? If church is going to really be family in anything more than name then surely church (that is the people of God) is the very place we run to when we feel stressed, tired, worn out, becuase they are the people who are going to speak to gospel to us. With your family you can relax, be yourself, be honest with each other, battle things out, and know that you’re always there for each other. Is this true of our church families? Or are we looking for times of ‘escape’ from them? By this I’m not suggesting we do nothing but spend time with the people of God. You don’t spend every waking minute with your biological family. But surely times away from them should never be viewed as ‘escape’. You escape from something undesirable, something that has you trapped and you need release. But Jesus has already released us from that which trapped us, sin. And he released us into church!

Maybe we need to rethink, not only how we care for our pastors and their families, but how we view church as a whole.