Jul 19, 2018

A Big Reason Why Many Parents Are Not at Church

Have you noticed a trend in families' church attendance patterns?  Families are attending church less often.  In many cases, it's once a month.  Some have stopped attending altogether.

There are several factors causing this.  We've talked about some of these in previous articles.

Why Millennial Parents Are Exiting the Church

5 Big Reasons Parents Are Attending Church Less Often

How to Get Families to Watch Church Online Less and Attend in Person  More Often

In this article, let's look at another big factor that is attributing to a decline in families attending church.

It can pretty much be summed up in one word.  Ready for it?  Here it is.

Parents are TIRED.  A recent survey from BPI network, revealed this..
  • 60% of 2,000 parents surveyed say they feel burnt out.
  • The survey also revealed that 30% of parents point to the pressure of trying to work full-time and manage a home simultaneously is too much.  
  • 40% of parents say their burnout could be described as "significant."  
  • 50% say it has affected their quality of life.
  • 50% of parents with children six months or younger, only get 1 to 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.  
Parental burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. It leaves parents feeling chronically fatigued, often experiencing sleep and concentration problems—and it can lead to depression, chronic anxiety, and illness. It can significantly impact work performance, productivity, business distraction and mindshare. Dr. Neil Brown
Think about it.  A husband and wife.  Both work full-time.  They have 3 kids.  In addition to school, the kids are involved in piano lessons, dance, soccer, girl scouts and karate lessons.  Between all of the practices, games, events, rehearsals and classes, they are gone 4-5 nights a week.  Saturday rolls around and in between trying to do chores around the house, they are at games or recitals all day.

Ahhhh...they made it through the week.  Sunday's here.  A day to rest and relax before starting the crazy schedule again tomorrow.  Mom and dad look at each other,  they know they should take the kids to church, but staying home and resting seems much more appealing

There's a lot they have to do if they are going to church that day.  Get the kids up.  Help them pick out an outfit to wear.  Get baths.  Feed them breakfast.  Load up in the car.  Drive 15 minutes.

Arrive at church.  Help the kids out of the car.  Get out the stroller.  Walk across a hot parking lot.  Check the kids in.  The printer for the check-in system is jammed.  So, walk down to guest services and write out a temporary name tag for everyone.  Walk the kids to their classrooms.  Deal with one of the children who has separation anxiety.

After service, they go back through the process in reverse.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that many families choose not to attend church.  They are already worn out when they are deciding if they want to attend or not.  Staying home for some R & R is very appealing and unfortunately, it often wins out.

So what can we do, as ministry leaders. to help parents see the value in bringing their children (and themselves) to church on a consistent basis?  Here are a few.

Make it worth their time.  If your church services are dry and boring, parents who are exhausted will choose to stay at home, unless it's a holiday service like Easter, Christmas, etc.

You must create environments for every age group that are so appealing, that families wouldn't think of missing it.  I heard someone say "The reason people don't go to church is because they've been before."  

Making it worth their time may mean you need to make some major changes in your services, programs, events, etc.

Remember, if you do what you've always done, you'll continue to get the same results.  What do you need to change, tweak, drop or add to get different results?

Get children dragging their parents to church.  Mom and dad may be tired, but if their children really want to do something, mom and dad will normally say "yes."  This is why children's ministry is one of the biggest growth factors in your church.

If you create environments and programs that are fun for kids, (and yes, you can have fun while teaching solid truths to kids) you will see them start dragging their parents to church, even on days when mom and dad are tired.

Raise the fun factor, have cliffhangers, give attendance challenges and other methods to get the kids excited about coming and you'll see families more often.

Help parents see what really matters in life.  Parents want what is best for their children.  All of the practices, games, money spent, driving to games, etc. is parents trying to invest in their children.  Most parents struggle with the pressure they feel to have their children involved in as many programs, teams and events as they possibly can.  They don't want their children to miss out or get behind.

You can free them from that pressure by helping them see that the most valuable investment they can make in their kids is a spiritual one.  This is not to say that other things can't be enjoyed, but it should be in the context putting church attendance first.

Use strategic times when you are speaking to parents to emphasize Matthew 6:33 with them.  At the end of the day, it's their relationship with Jesus that matters most in life.

Offer a shared experience for parents and their kids.  Even though they are tired, parents will generate enough energy to take their kids to an event, program or activity, if it offers them an opportunity to spend time with their child.

Think about creating some shared family experiences at your church on the weekend.  Maybe it's some activities they can do together.  Maybe it's putting together supplies for missionaries or creating care packages for families in need.

I remember a few years ago, having an event after the service where kids and their parents assembled packages that would be sent to needy families.  When we did this, attendance for parents and kids shot up that day.  It showed me that parents are looking for opportunities to spend time with their children.

Relationships are a big factor in seeing tired parents make the effort to come.  The deeper the connections they make, the more often they will be there.  The relationships can be formed around serving, a small group or a shared interest.

The relationship factor also includes the children.  When they have a caring leader who will miss them if they are not there and will send them a postcard or call their parents, it makes a big difference.  When they know they will be missed by a particular leader and a small group of friends, they will talk their tired parents into taking them to church.

Your turn.  Do you see parent, who are tired, in your ministry?  Do you think the busy culture we are in causes parents to be tired on weekends?  What are some additional steps we can take to see families attend more consistently  Join the conversation and share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Jul 18, 2018

KIds Need Doctrine If Their Faith is Going to Survive

WHAT you teach kids matters.  The CONTENT of the discipleship tools you create for parents matters.

Why?  Because if kids do not understand the foundational doctrines of the faith, they will have a very difficult time defending the faith.

Recent research has revealed that 13% of Gen Z claim to be atheists.  This is over double the amount of adults who say they are atheists.

More than ever, kids need to know why they believe what they believe.  Their faith must be build on a solid foundation or it will crumble when they are challenged on a significant level.

Here are 6 key doctrines that are foundational.  As you look through these, I would encourage you to get the scope and sequence of the curriculum you are currently using and see if it is teaching these doctrines.   

The Bible is the Word of God - the Holy Spirit guided human authors so that what they wrote in Scripture is accurate and without error.

God - God is a Spirit, a person, life, self-existent, unchanging, unlimited by time and space, and a unity….God consistently works out His eternal plan by guiding and overseeing all things by His wise and holy purpose.

Christ - Jesus was in fact God incarnate in human form.  He is the second person in the Trinity who came to live among us, die for us, and resurrect that someday we might be able to live with Him forever.

Holy Spirit - the Holy Spirit is not merely a force, but has all the attributes of personality and is also God as the third person of the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit’s work brings us to Christ and salvation, equips us for ministry, empowers us for service and produces spiritual fruit in our life.

Salvation -  The single most significant experience in life is receiving the salvation provided by Christ on the cross. When we invite Jesus to be our Forgiver, Leader and Friend, our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life.

Church -  Jesus gave us the church as a means of Christians assembling together to encourage and help one another in the Christian life and to enable them to be more effective in reaching out to others. The church exists for worship, instruction, fellowship and evangelism.

If the curriculum you are using doesn't teach the kids these and other doctrines, then it's time to get a new curriculum. 

Some people hear the word "doctrine" and assume that means you have to teach the kids these doctrines in a boring, lecture-style lesson.  Not at all, this is not about how you teach, but about what you teach.  You can teach Bible doctrine to the kids in a fun, engaging and relevant way.  In fact, if you teach the doctrines in a fun, engaging, hands on, learner-based way, kids will actually be able to remember them better. 

Others might suggest that you can wait until kids are in middle school or high school to teach them doctrine.  But stats show us that the front lines for the next generation are now in elementary school.  I believe we must start teaching doctrine in age-appropriate ways beginning as early as preschool.

When we teach kids doctrine, I believe we must also take them on a deeper dive so they can defend their beliefs when they are challenged.  And trust me, they will be challenged.  We must equip them so they don't just survive these attacks, but thrive and win others to Christ.

We must lead kids in asking the type of questions like you see below about the doctrines and help them discover the answers so they are prepared to give a defense of what they believe.

The Bible is the Word of God:
  • How do you know it's true?
  • Wasn't it just written by men?
  • The Bible contains errors, doesn't it?
  • How do you know God is real?
  • Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?
  • How do you know God created everything?
  • How do you know Jesus was the Son of God?
  • How do you know Jesus rose from the dead?
  • Why do you believe Jesus is the only way to heaven?
Holy Spirit:
  • How can the Holy Spirit be everywhere at once?
  • Why do you think the Holy Spirit is God?
  • Why doesn't the Holy Spirit stop people from being hurt?
  • Why would God send people to hell?
  • Don't all religions lead to heaven?
  • Won't I go to heaven if I do good things?
  • The church is full of hypocrites.
  • All churches want is peoples' money.
  • The church is judgmental. 
Questions like these are why we must teach kids Bible doctrine and equip them to defend their faith.  The next generation is at stake.  Every Sunday matters.  Every lesson matters.  Every person investing in the next generation matters.  You matter.  Your ministry matters.

I have developed a strategic, one-year elementary curriculum that helps kids learn solid Bible doctrine.  From salvation to spiritual leadership, they will discover 12 key truths that will give them a solid faith foundation.  You can get more info. at this link

Jul 17, 2018

What Parents Are Looking For & How You Can Provide It

As a ministry leader, I'm sure you've realized that an important goal is to connect with parents.

Like never before, ministries are seeking to influence parents.  You get it.  You understand that you influence children by influencing their parents.

That leads us to the question - How can you best resource parents and make it worth their time to engage with your strategy?

There are lots of different strategies and topics you can focus on for this.  But even better, if you can figure out what they are really interested in, then you can focus on influencing them through that avenue.

Child Trends, a research company, recently released some findings that can give us a clearer picture of what parents are looking for. 

Most young parents lack the parenting knowledge they need and want.  First-time parents of infants and toddlers especially want to know more about parenting, but have a difficult time obtaining clear and trustworthy information.

There is a limitless amount of information about parenting online.  Parents often turn to the internet for information, support and guidance.  But there is so much information available that it can be overwhelming for young parents.

Interesting enough, research confirms what we already knew, parents' knowledge-seeking occurs most often when their child is transitioning.  Parents say they are more actively seeking out information when their child is entering a new developmental stage.

During the weeks and months leading up to a transition, parents are searching for help.  They search online through sources like Google, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.  They may also turn to their parents and grandparents as well for advice.

Equipped with this knowledge, you can create a solid parenting strategy that will allow you to meet the needs of families inside and outside of your church.
Hold general parenting classes at least 2-3 times a year.  Have a solid, Biblically-based curriculum that you share with parents.  If you'd like some suggestions, feel free to email me and I can give you some ideas.  Also be strategic, about when you place the classes on the calender.  Remember to place them near or leading up to a transition period.

Have a milestone class and celebration for the transition periods.  As I mentioned, when their child is going through a transition, parents focus on getting help and information.  You can help parents big-time by having a special class and celebration for each transition period.  I have created milestone classes for each transition. You can get more info. below.  There is also a discount shown below if you want all 5 transition kits.

What an awesome, extraordinary privilege it is to be a parent.  From the time they are infants, until they are walking across the platform to receive their degree, you have the opportunity to influence them.

And what a great opportunity you have as a ministry leader, to influence parents who will in turn influence their children.  I can tell you from experience, one of the best things you will ever do for your ministry is to implement these transition periods.  You will see incredidble fruit in the lives of kids and parents.  You will see parents come to Christ.  You will see children come to Christ.  You will see the trajectory of families lives changed through His Word.

You can get all 5 milestones at a discounted price by clicking here. (see below for more info.)

You can also purchase individual classes at this ink.

Jul 16, 2018

Why Everyone Should Be Your Mentor

Do you have a mentor?  Someone you learn from?

If not, it's not because none are available.  In fact, they are all around you.  Let's look at an example that comes from Walt Disney.

One morning, while visiting the Disneyland Park before it opened, Walt invited some third-shift maintenance workers to stop what they were doing and join him for a chat.  When their manager found them talking with Walt, the manager asked Walt if he could have the workers back to finish their work before the park opened.  As they went back to their assignments, the manager felt compelled to ask Walt why he was spending his valuable time talking with third-shift workers.  That’s when Walt shared his philosophy with the manager:  

“Good ideas come from everyone.”

Walt Disney sought out advice from everyone on his team - from executives to those who swept main street.  He believed that everyone has the potential to contribute creatively to their organization's success by generating new and useful ideas.

That was a key part of Walt's excellent leadership.  He purposely learned from everyone.

Take that approach and you'll soon discover that everyone can be your mentor.  Everyone has something to contribute to your journey, if you'll just take the time to involve them.

Instead of just sitting in an office with "executive" leaders, get out and rub shoulders with everyone. Ask them their thoughts about a program.  Ask their opinion about the appearance of the rooms.  Ask them what they would change?  What they would drop?  What they would start?

When you see everyone as a mentor, you unlock the door to so many new conduits of ideas.

Want to improve your guest services area?  Insstead of just getting ideas from 2-3 people in an office, talk to the people who work on that team.

Want to improve your curriculum?  Instead of just debating about it with 2 other people, ask all the people who are actually using it.

Want to improve your VBS?  Do an evalution after it's over.  Don't just ask the people who taught, but also ask the helpers, the people who helped set up, the maintenance team and some parents.

You get the point.  The more mentors you get involved, the more ideas and insight you'll have to work with.

This doesn't mean you'll be able to implement all the ideas you receive.  But it will give you more advice and input to work with.  And tucked down inside the advice is an idea that is going to take your ministry to a whole new level.  

The idea is there, you're just not asking enough people to find it.  That's why everyone should be your mentor.  Walt took that approach and did pretty well.  I bet you can too!

p.s. If you want to see tons of ideas from Disney that you can apply to your ministry, then check out the book "If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry,"  You can get it at this link.