Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.

Pastor's Kids: The Good

People are always fascinated when they learn I'm a pastor's kid.

Everyone wants to know if I hated it. It's usually the first question I get, though sometimes it's disguised as asking if I liked it, but in the same tone of voice that people use to ask if you like something they obviously don't. Like licorice, or Detroit. And those who ask fall into one of two categories — people who are indifferent to my answer, and people who are really looking forward to hearing a first-person pastor's kid exposé, like Breaking Baptist.*

Unfortunately for those people, I've never really minded being a pastor's kid. I guess I don't have much to compare it to, to be fair; for the vast majority of my life, it's always been my dad on stage on Sunday morning. It has its pros and cons for sure, but it's just like any other dad job, yeah? Your dad's an engineer, your dad's a coach, your dad's a tap dancer, my dad's a pastor, you know, it's whatever. It's just your dad.

After a four-year hiatus, though, here I am, back at my dad's church, full-blown PK status re-assumed; but this time as an adult, and at a completely new-to-me church.

Between that new perspective and the natural increase in pastor's-kid-related questions I've been receiving from people of late, I decided that it might be efficient to just dedicate some time to answering them a little more thoroughly.

I have thoughtfully divided my insights into the sub-categories of Good, Bad, and Ugly; and each will get its own post for a fun little three-part series! Pro tip for the aforementioned soap opera types — you can totally just stop reading now because, because Good is the first word in the list so that's what the rest of this post is going to be, and I know y'all don't care about it anyway! You're welcome.

Without further ado, I give you: BEING A PASTOR'S KID — THE GOOD.


  • Automatic rec space. I'm leading with this because having the run of a church campus was, like, easily the best part of being a PK as a child. Everyone else's Sunday morning sacred ground was my sister's and my vast domain as soon they cleared out. Basketball court — ours. Playground — ours. Really good climbing tree in the middle of the courtyard unless the executive pastor was around to lecture us about the dangers of climbing it — ours. Children's ministry building always had art supplies, we knew where all the good snacks were hidden, and you could play some really next-level games of hide and seek. One time we made a bunch of paper planes and had a competition with my dad and the youth pastor to see who could throw them from the balcony into the baptistry. Another time we took remote control helicopters and flew them around the sanctuary, and it was awesome, and Jesus didn't even mind. Jesus would totally fly remote control helicopters around the sanctuary.
  • Food. If you have given my dad food or restaurant gift cards, you have given me food and restaurant gift cards. Thank you.
  • Tickets. Sometimes people give extra or unused tickets to sporting events to my dad, and usually if there's more than one I get to go, and that is always my unspiritual favorite time to be a pastor's kid. Just keeping it real here, people.
  • Human Bible Reference. My dad is like a built-in, real-life-person resource for all my random theology and Bible questions. He is also very generous with his not-person, technology and book resources when he gets tired of talking to me or needs to actually work and stuff. He's great like that!
  • Inside edge. Compared to a president or a dictator or a rock star (I imagine), there is not an overwhelming lot of cool benefits that come with the limitations of my dad's job for his family; but what small bits of behind-the-scenes power we get, we relish. For example — fellow Christian 90s babies, please back me up here — in fifth grade, my dad got CHRISTIAN POP SENSATION Jump 5 to come do a concert at our church. JUMP 5, guys. And I got to meet them, and one of them said they liked my jacket, and I was like, wow, I can't believe that at eleven years old I have already experienced the coolest moment of my entire life.
    Years later, my dad was the speaker at my high school graduation ceremony; and in another small, precious delegation of control, he let me choose the topic. I requested a speech comparing/contrasting Michael Jordan's and David Robinson's NBA Hall of Fame acceptance speeches, which was a real favorite topic of ours, and all my theater kid classmates had to listen to a Rush talk about sports one more time before receiving their diploma, and it felt righteous and just.

All kidding aside, the real best part of being a pastor's kid is the pastor whose kid I am; but I can't fit that in one bullet point, and he's not the type who'd want me to spend paragraphs publicly singing his praises, even if he deserves it.

Suffice to say, I'm lucky to have been raised by one of the greatest leaders and most passionate Jesus-followers of our time. Someone I'd be seeking out as a mentor or authority or guide regardless, but just happens to super conveniently be my dad! So I can just walk into his house or call his phone or, now, barge into his office at pretty much any time when I want to soak up some Ryan Rushness! ("You're definitely the most intrusive intern we've ever had," he said last week when he found me sitting at his desk going through one of his reference books.)

So there you have it, the Good of being a pastor's kid. TUNE IN NEXT TIME when I #GiveThePeopleWhatTheyWant — the five worst parts of being a pastor's kid. Hanger is involved.

 *Not a real show.**

**If you're really disappointed right now, you know what category you go in.

Pastor's Kids: The Bad

Here is the Church