I know a thing or two about living in the parsonage.
As a pastor’s kid, I spent 10 years living in the house next door to the church. And later, as a youth pastor’s wife, I spent a few more living in a bubble that may as well have been a parsonage.
The thing about the parsonage, in my experience, is that many church members consider it their property and figure they can come and go as they please. And the bubble is similar. For some reason, many people feel free to take great liberties with the personal boundaries of church staff and their families.
Why is this? Is it because people believe that those who dedicate their lives to ministry automatically surrender their sense of self? Do they believe God grants special grace to church workers, overcoming their need for down time? Is it because people who contribute money to the church figure they’re paying the salaries and therefore are the bosses?
In my experience, some churches are full of bosses. Church staff members find themselves “reporting to” hundreds of individuals who feel a right and responsibility to make demands and expect results at any time. And who can blame them? In our consumer society, isn’t that the way things work?
What do you think? Why do church staff so often feel overrun by the people in their congregations? And what can church leaders do in such a situation? What is the best way to live as a servant of the church and yet maintain healthy boundaries that preserve you, your family, and your relationship with God?
This blog post first appeared on Christianity Today’s Building Church Leaders blog.
© 2012 Amy Simpson.