Jason Neville, 41, grew up as the son of non-denominational evangelists in Downey, Calif. Today he is the pastor of Praise Chapel Christian Fellowship of Downey. Read about his experience growing up as a PK in the Q&A below.
What was it like for you to grow up as the son of religious leaders?
Growing up in a city church, you have to find your identity. All of those people saying, “you’re going to be just like your parents,” and “you can’t escape it.” When I was 15 I got really into hip-hop music. My dad’s church was inner city, and it was the time of artists like Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Ice Cube. My dad challenged me to take what they’re doing and do it for the church. I became a pioneer in Christian rap, and did it for 15 years. I found something I liked to do that I could do for my church. I was trying to find a place in their church. Trying to find my niche.
I was the youth pastor of my parents’ church for nine years. Seven years ago, my wife and I decided that our youth pastoring was coming to an end, and we needed new direction. I knew Downey. I started a church in Downey.
What was the biggest benefit of growing up as a PK?
My biggest thing was not necessarily as a PK, but being raised and setting a spiritual foundation at a young age. I definitely made mistakes like everyone else. I’m definitely a sinner like everyone else. My parents were the same at church as they were at home. The biggest struggle I see with young people today is that their parents aren’t the same at church as they are at home.
What was the hardest part about growing up as a PK?
Expectations. I still deal with them today. It’s like being the kids of the president. Everyone’s eyes are on your parents. My parents have a high profile ministry with 2000 people in fellowship now.
You’re constantly dealing with expectations instead of enjoying. You’re comparing yourself to who you ought to be. You’re always compared to your family. Sometimes it can be so rough for some preacher’s kids that they want a new life.
Now that I have children of my own, being a preacher’s kid helps me with my kids. My wife was different. She was saved at 16. There’s situations with my kids at church that I can handle because I’ve been there. It’s almost like I’m reliving everything I went through. It helps me to minister to kids in my church to help them understand the blessings, not just the junk the world offers.
Did you ever think you’d become a pastor yourself?
I never thought I’d be a pastor. I had other dreams and aspirations. As I got older, I felt the call of God. I told the Lord: ‘If you want me to do something else, you have to switch my passion.’ He switched it from the studio to pastoring a church.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing a book called “Pastor’s Kid.” Basically, it’s not a bio on my life, but it’s to educate not just PKs or people in the ministry, but regular kids in church in general. It’s one thing for kids to come in from a broken lifestyle and get changed. For kids to be in church for their whole life, it’s hard to stay in the four walls. They drift. They don’t have the same transformation.