|This dissertation examines the social ecological factors in shaping the attitudes and responses of ministers' children (PKs) toward full-time Christian ministry. Data emerging from the descriptive qualitative research methodology of this study broaden Christian leaders' understanding of PKs, and inform clergy parents who seek to raise PKs with a positive attitude and response toward full-time Christian ministry.
The research consisted of thirty-four semi-structured interviews and questionnaires. Each provided rich descriptive data for analysis. The targeted population for this study was ministers' children who are adults in full-time Christian ministry or those preparing for full-time Christian ministry in North America. In this study, the sample included adult PKs who are students, staff, and faculty at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The findings have shown that the minister's family and its interactions with the church play an important role in shaping the attitudes and responses of the ministers' children toward full-time Christian ministry.
The predominant positive factors identified were the following: parents/family, youth ministers/other mentors, Christian college experience, sheltered from church conflicts, ministerial exposure and involvement, positive church experience, and missions experience. The number one positive factor is from the family microsystem, especially the parents. The father's role in setting a proper boundary between family and church, such as shielding the church conflicts from the PKs, is important.
The predominant negative factors identified were the following: negative church experience, church conflicts, expectations from church members, forced termination, financial stress, and lack of spiritual nourishment at home. A predominant theme mentioned across the cases, although not strictly social ecological, was the calling for full-time Christian ministry and the transforming power of God. Many PKs expressed that these had overridden the negative factors they had experienced.
Further research is encouraged to examine the specific ways in which each pattern/theme influences the attitudes and responses of ministers' children toward full-time Christian ministry. It is the present researcher's goal that the findings will inform the clergy parents as well as the church in their effort of raising the next generation of men and women who would support the Christian ministry.