Sometimes in our efforts to serve families we forget to serve families. Let’s face it- families are BUSY! Ferrying kids to school, lessons, practices, and games takes up too much time as it is. Church shouldn’t needlessly add to the running back and forth. Here are a few suggestions to reduce the rushing.
Our church is normally pretty good about attempting to schedule in a family-friendly way, thankfully. It does take a very intentional mindset by ALL leaders to create and maintain a “Family-Friendly” church. Leaders need to consistently ask the questions, “How could we make this easier for families?” and “How can we support our families and safe-guard the precious little time they have together?”
Is there a way to piggyback or combine the activity with something else that is already going on? We had a great event last Sunday. But the timing of the event was family-challenging instead of family-friendly. Had it been moved two hours earlier to follow the lunch church offered after our 2nd morning service, families wouldn’t have had to go home, stay in their dress clothes for 2 hours, then drive back to be there for another 2-3 hours. With the piggyback principle, the ministry would have looked at the calendar and decided if the event was to be on Sunday, it should either piggyback this with morning services or schedule it for the end of the afternoon so the entire day is not dominated by church.
A simple, yet often overlooked solution is to look across the ministry calendar at other ministry offerings. Are adults coming on Thursday nights? Instead of scheduling that new youth event to run on Fridays, why not run it concurrently with the adult program so the family can come and stay together. We have had a lot of success with consolidating multiple events into one night, eliminating the dreaded “back and forth” driving time for parents. And BONUS! You’ll probably get a few parents to stay and take advantage of the adult program you’re offering in the process!
Offer a Meal
One of the wisest things our church did was to add a line item to the budget for food and meals. We serve a ton of food at our church, and this is very family-friendly! If you are asking families to come to church on a weeknight, quite possibly from work or another activity, why not have something simple available, like pizza and salad, for those who can’t go home and cook first? It takes a load off and makes it easier for families to take advantage of and beblessed rather than stressed by the programs offered. For many more suggestions, look up The Family-Friendly Church by Ben Freudenberg.
Are you a ministry leader or volunteer at your church? Give some consideration to these suggestions when you are in the planning and scheduling phase. My biggest suggestion is that you NOT go to your leaders and tell them how tired you are of running back and forth to church! (Chances are good they are tired, too.) DO make helpful suggestions before things get to the calendar to help families feel the partnership and support from their church family.