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Pastor’s Kids Gone Wild

Editor’s Note: A few years ago Jonathan Acuff launched a little Web site called as a way to riff on the peculiar ways Christians think, talk, and act. Now, fueled by 730,000 online readers in 209 countries, Acuff has published a book titled Stuff Christians Like (Zondervan) as a “field guide to all things Christian.” Here’s an excerpt from his site…

My four-year-old, McRae, is at that age where she narrates everything that happens to her in real time—like living with a director’s commentary on a DVD:

“That girl needs to be wearing a bike helmet.”

“That dog is shiny and small.”

“I swallowed all my bad dreams.”

That last one felt a little like a lyric from an emo song, but for the most part the things she says are really funny. For instance, the other day, after discussing how we couldn’t get a cat, in part because my wife is allergic, McRae scrunched her face and then proudly announced a solution: “We can get a cat when mom dies.” Touching? Maybe not. Accurate? Without a doubt.

I love hearing what my kids have to say, but I do regret one thing about their childhood—they’re not pastor’s kids. Unless you’ve been a pastor’s kid, that won’t make sense, but as far as my experience goes, it was pretty awesome. Sure, the occasional elder ratted you out, but for the most part it’s a lot of fun.

You’re kind of famous on Sunday mornings. You know where all the free food is in the church. And you grow up with more prayer than you can possibly imagine. And, at the bare minimum, you’ve got a really interesting fact for your background in case you ever became famous and/or wild.

Christians are fascinated by pastors’ kids gone wild. I love it when, in the midst of hearing a song on the radio or watching a movie, someone will lean over and whisper: “You know that guy? He’s a pastor’s kid.” Then they’ll shake their head with disappointment as if God didn’t “take” with that one.

But what does a really good pastor’s kid gone wild look like? Simple…

Pop princess Katy Perry.

Why choose her? Well, she has all the classic signs of a pastor’s kid gone wild:

1. Gospel Start—To really qualify for the official title of “pastor’s kid gone wild” you have to at least dipped your toe into the Christian mainstream. You must release a gospel album or be in an episode of McGee and Me. Katy has that covered. At the age of 16 she released a Christian album under the name “Katy Hudson.”

2. Controversial New Life—Arsenio Hall, the actor and former late night host, is a pastor’s kid, but I’m not sure if he counts. I feel like what you produce has to be more worldly and wild than just a talk show. Perry has that covered. The song that vaulted her to pop success? “I Kissed a Girl.” Yahtzee!

3. Wild Love Interest—You’ve got to have a crazy boyfriend or off-the-wall wife if you really want to do the whole “pastor’s kid gone wild” thing right. Once again, Katy doesn’t let us down. She’s engaged to Russell Brand, a brilliant but insanely vulgar comedian who once got fired from a television station for showing up to work the day after September 11th dressed as Osama Bin Laden.

4. No U-Turn Books—Apparently Franklin Graham, the son of Billy, used to be a bit of a hellion himself. But then he cleaned up his act and wrote a book about how he used to be the prodigal son. That’s great, but that sort of thing instantly disqualifies him from participating in this list. That I’m aware of, Katy has no such book planned. ◊

Jonathan is a self-described “preacher’s kid/copywriter”—he lives in Atlanta with his wife and two kids.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the September/October 2010 issue of Group Magazine. Go to to subscribe.

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Pastor’s Kids Gone Wild

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