A recent report from the Portraits of American Life Study says Millennial young adults are drifting away from church. They show significant signs of dissatisfaction with organized religion. This is reflected in both lower attendance and the number claiming no religious affiliation.
But there is something that is bringing them back.
Is it marriage? Actually, no. For two reasons. First, young adults are increasingly putting off marriage Secondly, newly married couples report fewer closer friends and weaker social ties to churches because they tend to focus on each other more than other relationships.
So what is it that brings straying Millennials back to church? It's children. The extensive study found that married parents are 3 times more likely as singles without children to return to weekly church attendance. Benjamin Gurrentz, researcher at Penn State University, said, "It is children, not marriage per se, that actually integrates married respondents into religious communities." Single parents have similarly high rates of return relative to singles without children.
Churches that are serious about reaching the young families in their community must get serious about making children's ministry a top priority. (tweet this)
A dynamic children's ministry can help grow a church because young parents are looking for help, encouragement and inspiration. Raising young children is a stressful task. Churches that provide support both from the pulpit and the pew will become a magnet for young families. Parents are also looking for a safe, clean, engaging learning environment where their children can get a great life foundation.
Many parents are also looking for a place where others can care for their children while they get a "break" for an hour. Children's Ministries that want to help their church grow will recognize this and not require parents to serve in children's ministry, but rather will work to build a solid team of loving, caring volunteers. This is not to say that parents can't serve in children's ministry, but they should not be required.
As the Millennials (age 18 to 34) continue to age and have children, churches that provide a dynamic, effective children's ministry will reach many of them and experience growth. If you want to make children's ministry a priority in your church, be sure to check out these additional articles.
An Open Letter to Pastors About Children's Ministry
7 Ways Children's Ministry Can Impact Your Entire Church
How to Build a Thriving Children's Ministry in Small Town, U.S.A.
5 Telltale Signs That Children's Ministry is not a Priority at a Church