Ask pastors what demographic they’d like help reaching, and they’ll inevitably ask, “Is young families too broad of a demographic?”
The church is for all, but not everyone has the same needs. Young families, in particular, come with a unique set of challenges. The truth is that almost every church would like to appeal to young families, but so many still struggle. Never fear! We’ve put together a list of five effective ways your church can bless young families, especially when leading into the back-to-school season.
1. Prioritize kids’ ministry
When young couples become parents, they start wrestling with raising their kids with a religious tradition. If either of them has a Christian background, they’ll start seriously considering bringing their kids to church.
Now think about this for a minute: If the number one reason they’re visiting your church is because they’re concerned about the spirituality of their children, the tone they get from the kids’ ministry is going to speak a lot louder than the service.
Children’s ministry isn’t a way to keep the kids out of everyone’s hair while adults have the “real” worship service. It should be a reflection of the emphasis that the church puts on the discipleship of its youngest, most vulnerable members.
2. Make parents feel secure at your church
A big part of serving parents is putting their fears to rest. When it comes to their children, parents are on edge. It’s uncomfortable dropping your kids off with strangers for the first time, and parents need to have all of their fears assuaged. This means that you need to nail security measures like:
- Check-in: Parents notice if you’re loosey-goosey about how kids are being cared for in your church. If your church just dismisses the kids in the middle of the service, and they run off unaccompanied to Sunday school, it gets noticed. Don’t think of having a secure check-in as a barrier or an inconvenience. It’s actually something that makes them feel better about you.
- Volunteers: There is never a reason—under any circumstance—to allow someone to volunteer with the kids without running a background check. And feel free to let first-time visiting parents know that’s the case.
- Traffic surveillance: Some churches have parking on the other side of a busy street from the church. Make sure there are people stopping traffic so that families can cross the road safely.
3. Consider a unified Sunday School curriculum
In a unified Sunday school curriculum, all ages are going through the same Bible passages with their prospective age groups. I cannot say enough good things for this in general, but it’s especially helpful for young families.
A lot of young parents don’t know how to have religious discussions with their kids, but being able to get together over lunch after church and discuss the day’s passage is simple. It makes everyone feel like they’re getting something out of it.
The great thing is that it will come up over and over throughout the week. Nothing beats having your child remind you of the Bible passage you both studied last week: “Hey Dad, remember not to be anxious about anything…”
4. Give practical takeaways
Every sermon doesn’t have to be about parenting or marriage (thank God). But make sure that there are always some illustrations and takeaways that young families can identify with and ruminate on all week long.
In fact, if you have the stomach for it, get some young families together and talk about your sermons with them. Get their impressions about what connects with them, and perhaps more importantly, what does not.
5. Use technology in ways that make sense to them
Young families use technology differently from churchgoing families that came before them. Mobile tech is changing the way they bank, communicate, and consume media. If your church isn’t using mobile solutions for things like giving and communication, you’re missing out on an opportunity.