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How can we be the kind of congregation that welcomes Young Families for more than their energy and wallets?

Through my various facebook and twitter feeds, I get lots of articles talking about church, church growth, and our purpose and mission. Today, this one rolled across my feed, and several colleagues of mine have shared it, so I’m doing the same. Here’s the link:

When Churches Want a Pastor Who Can “Bring In Young Families” . . .

It’s by Jan Edmiston, and it’s definitely worth the read. One part of this article really stood out for me:

So how can we be the kind of congregation that welcomes Young Families for more than their energy and wallets?  We can:

  1. Be real.  Deal with real issues in sermons, classes, retreats, conversations, prayers.
  2. Listen to parents’ concerns.  Listen to children’s concerns.
  3. Ask how we can pray for them.  And then pray for them.
  4. Allow/encourage messiness.  Noses will run and squirming will ensue.  There might be running.  There will definitely be noise.
  5. Check our personal Stink Eye Quotient.  Do we grimace when a baby cries?  Do we frown when the kids are wearing soccer uniforms?
  6. Refrain from expecting everyone to be the church like we have always been the church.
  7. Help parents, grandparents, and all adults become equipped to minister to children and youth.  How can we learn to offer such loving hospitality to the younger people in our midst that they will always experience church as home?
  8. Do not use children as cute props.  Yes they say the darndest things during children’s stories, but they are not there to entertain us.
  9. Give parents a break.  Really.  Help struggling parents get coats and hats on their kids.  Hold an umbrella.  Assist in wiping spills.
  10. Give parents a break administratively.  Make it easy to participate. Minimize the unnecessary.

I think this is a good reminder for us as we are taking steps in this direction. We are re-opening our nursery, but it won’t be a requirement that parents take them there. It is to provide parents with a choice, and to support them in their choice, whether they wish their children to stay with them in worship or that they want a break and have their children play in the nursery.

All this is part of how we can become more and more welcoming as a church to whoever walks through our doors, and how we can be a sign of Christ’s presence in the larger community.

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