Jonathan Tolliver

jonathan1Jonathan Tolliver, 29, grew up as the son of a Baptist preacher in the South side of Chicago before his dad died when he was 11. Today Jonathan works as a journalist and musician. Hear about his experiences as a PK below.

 

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Joshua Lin

josh1Joshua Lin, 27, grew up as the son of a missionary pastor in California and in Taiwan. He came back to the United States for college, and today he works as a relator for Century 21. Hear about his experiences as a PK and an MK (Missionary Kid) below.

 

 

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Omar Lopez

omar1Omar Lopez, 26, grew up in Whittier, Calif. and Norwalk, Calif. as the son of a preacher in a non-denominational church closely tied to the Pentecostal tradition. Today he is a barista at Starbucks and serves in ministries at his dad’s church. Read about his experiences in the Q&A below.

What was it like for you to grow up as a PK?

When you grow up in any household or any lifestyle, that’s all you know, but for me it was fun. Being part of a church, there’s always something going on, there’s always some function, and you find your life-long friends. There wasn’t anything I felt like I missed out on, or anything. It was fun.

Are you still a part of your dad’s church?

I still go to my dad’s church now. I’ve never considered leaving unless I’m going into the ministry elsewhere. Someone asked me that recently and I was like, ‘I never thought of that.’ It’s always been a given.

You mentioned some ministries. What are you involved in?

I lead worship. I have a few other ministries: the video announcements, the creative team,  but mostly the worship team. My mom is the head of the worship team, but I’m kind of leading it right now.

What were the best parts about growing up as a PK?

I think for anyone growing up who’s involved, not just a PK, there’s this positive environment because you have these good influences as leaders that have laid out an example of how to live a good life, not just a Christian life.

A cool thing about my church and my fellowship is we are a church-planting movement, so the church we came out of planted 30 to 50 churches, and we’re still connected with them, so we create these friendships. You don’t see them every week, but you do see them at conferences and events. It’s not my close circle, but I know a lot of people and have good friendships. People I’ve known my whole life.

Especially as a pastor’s kid you get to see from a different point of view because you’re always in church so you see people come and go. You get to see different lifestyles and choices people make.

What was hard?

I don’t know if it’s a negative or a bad thing, but I found it annoying when people would compare me to dad, and call me “Little Pastor Omar” because my dad’s Omar, too. It kind of grew old after a while, but I got over it. But what is negative about it? For me as a person, I always considered it a joy.

Were you expected to follow in your dad’s footsteps?

I think for a while people were like, ‘You’re going to grow up to be a pastor just like your dad,’ and I was like, ‘No, I’m not.’ I think I just said that without even considering if God called me to that kind of ministry. I think I said that in defense of my own individuality subconsciously.

Did you ever feel like you were stereotyped?

Oh yeah. For sure. As Christians, people go around and they won’t cuss around a Christian. Even people in the church say things like, ‘Oh, you can’t say that around the pastor’s kid because he’ll tell his parents’ but I was like, ‘No, this is me. I’m not this radio secret service agent who’s going to report to my dad.’

How has your upbringing influenced your life?

I have this worldview that everyone’s on the same page. We all have our own individuality. We all have our need for Jesus. We all have our sin: it needs to be forgiven. So I think growing up, I’ve kind of broadened my worldview. Every single person has value, and I can’t say that that has come from any other influence. It’s always because I’ve been in church and I have this love and value for every person I run into.         

Jason Neville

jasonnevilleJason 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.

Courtesy of Jason Neville

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.

 

Joseph Chang

Courtesy of Joseph Chang
Courtesy of Joseph Chang

Joseph Chang, 26, grew up as the son of  Salvation Army officers in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., Dallas, Texas and Baltimore, Md. Today he is a multimedia ministries editor and media archivist for the Salvation Army. Read about his experiences growing up as a PK in the Q&A below.

 

 

What did you enjoy about growing up as a PK?

Being able to travel a lot.

What was hard about growing up as a PK?

It was tough. Constantly moving hit me the hardest because making friends was difficult for me. My family moved so much that I stopped trying to make friends because I knew I would have to say goodbye to them at one point.  I always had to be well-mannered because my parents’ reputation was always on the line.

Did you ever feel pressured to become an officer yourself?

I did when was younger. As I grew older, my parents never pressured to be a religious leader. They wanted me to pursue my passions.

Were you sheltered as a PK?

My parents were urban missionary pastors, so the places where my family was living weren’t safe. When it comes to being sheltered, my parents would always tell to come home early and stay home to keep us safe.

Were you ever stereotyped for being a PK?

Of course.  As a preacher’s kid you’re stereotyped as godly child. Even in a church setting, kids my own age at the time wouldn’t feel comfortable around me because I was automatically labeled as a brat or they thought I would assume everything they did was a sin.

How has being an officers’ kid changed your life today?

Despite of all the negative points I’ve made, my parents are my big influences because of their life’s dedication to serve the Lord. Seeing the amount of time and effort they have put into their ministry reminds me to keep pursuing my passion.

What do you want people to know about growing up as a PK?

Growing up as a child of a religious leader is tougher. For me, it was mostly about moving. I hated it. Constantly packing and repacking. Making friends isn’t easy as a child especially when you’re introduced to new worlds every year. Education was hard to up keep. In the end, it was never about me. I knew my parents were doing all of this just to serve the Lord.

 

Stan Dobias

Stan Dobias grew up as a son of a Seventh Day Adventist missionary in East Africa. Evangelism was very important to his father, who planted churches. Today Dobias is a religion professor at Adventist University of Health Sciences in Orlando, Fla.

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