Question and Answer Session: Michelle Anthony, Doug Fields, and Jim Burns

For this session at the Gathering, Michelle Anthony interviews Jim Burns and Doug Fields about the family and ministry.  Here’s some of the questions and answers.

Michelle: What can you say about this generation?  What is going wrong?

Jim: I think divorce is a major issue.  Here in California, the divorce rate is 72%!  However, if we bring the rate down by only 1% that’s millions of kids who now have a dad and mom in the home.    What we are now doing is more premarital things.  We are trying to prepare couples for the ups and downs they will encounter.

Michelle: What is going right?

Jim: I think it’s things like this (The Gathering).   Worshiping God in a genuine way.  And I think kids understand that living a life for Christ involves service.  When you serve, you get a whole lot more invested.

Michelle: We’ve got some people that are in the 5-10 year range of marriage in this audience and now things are getting shaky. Maybe because of ministry and trying to find balance.  Advice?

Doug: Because ministry never stops, we want to prove ourselves and we don’t establish boundaries.  We don’t take a day off.  We don’t have nonnegotiable date nights.  Or when we do go out, we talk about the church.   The thing you have to remember is the church is not dependent on you.  If you left today, they would not cancel service.  They would find another leader.    When you marry the ministry instead of your spouse, you’ve set yourself up for failure.   Too often, we give our best energy to the church and we give our marriage and our children our emotional table scraps.

Jim: Having a core group of friends that will really ask the hard questions are crucial.   Someone who is going to ask those questions like “Did you do anything inappropriate this week?  Even in your mind?”  Stuff like that is going to keep things in check.

Questions from the Audience

Question: What do we do when families don’t feel like they can measure up to our definition of success?  We’re telling families to be these spiritual leaders and it seems like they are giving up before they even begin.

Jim: First, you need to be faithful.  Not everyone is going to engage at first.  That’s okay.  You put on a quality program or give out quality resources to those who are asking and they will tell their friends.  And second, we need to be transparent.   Let them know you don’t have it all together either.  Everyone is on the journey together.

Question:  Going back to the ministry and family balance — I am paid to be a full time minister and so I want to do my best on the job.  And I want to give quality time to my family too.  How?

Jim: We’re not saying you can’t be a great minister.  We’re saying if what you’re doing in the ministry is tearing your family apart, you’ll know it. Your family will start to tell you.

Doug: I think the tension for all of us… what is valued at church is not valued at home.  Church is go go go! At home, it’s presence. Did you know that the #1 reason for anger or hostility in kids in the PERCEIVED nonavailability of mom and dad.   Put your hours in.  But put some boundaries up too.


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