Feb 8, 2018

Families Attending Your Church Less? Here's How to See Them Come More Often

Last week, I shared an article entitled "5 Big Reasons Families Are Attending Church Less Often."  Now let's talk about how we can change that trend in our churches and see families start attending more often.

Let's jump into it.

Reason 1 - Families are busier and tired. 

Since families are busier, the last thing we need to do is add more events and programs to their already over scheduled lives.  Instead, focus on doing a few things well and point families to it.  

Families are only going to give you so much time.  If you want that time to be Sunday morning, then don't ask for lots of time outside of Sunday morning.  If you have a big event on a Friday or Saturday, watch what happens on the Sunday after.  Attendance will most likely dip.  Why?  Because in the average family's thinking, the time they gave you on Friday or Saturday was their "church" time for the week.  They don't differentiate that time being on a Sunday or an event or program outside of Sunday.

Does this mean you shouldn't do any events or programs outside of Sunday?  I'm not saying that, but I am saying they should be focused and limited.  This requires each area of the church working together to have a streamlined master calendar.

Reason 2 - Erosion of trust.

Since today's parents don't automatically trust authority, it must be earned.  Especially when it comes to the safety and security of their children.

This is accomplished by having a safe and secure check-in system in place, making sure every volunteer has been through an on-boarding process, having windows so parents can see into each room, having a security team in place and making sure no one is ever alone with a child

I can't emphasize this enough.  When it comes to the safety and security of their children, parents are no longer going to fill the gap with trust.  There must not be a gap if you want to see families come back and attend consistently.  You can get help with earning parent's trust with this resource.

People are also going to be more committed when they have a clear vision they can put their trust in.  People long to be part of something that really matters.  They want to make an impact with their life.  They want to leave a legacy.  Show them how they can do that through the vision of your ministry and they will be all in.

In a day when scandals, moral failures and lying is common among leaders, families are looking for genuine leaders.  Transparency in finances, decision-making and processes helps people buy in and be more faithful.

As I said, all of this is based on earned trust and that takes time.  

Reason 3 - Involvement in other activities.

Since families have lots of other options, you have to make your church services irresistible for kids and their parents.  So irresistible that they choose church first.

In children's ministry, you can use cliff hangers in your lessons to bring kids back the next week.

I also believe that many parents get bored when they hear warmed over sermons on topics they've heard 10,000 times already.  Why go back next week and sleep through another sermon?  They can sleep in at home instead, right?  When the messages are fresh, relevant and engaging, it will help parents attend more often.

I hit on the fact in the previously mentioned article that families' social lives are no longer centered around the church.  When they rush in and out on Sunday, without any real, deep connections, they are less prone to be consistent in their attendance.  When no one will even notice when they aren't there, why should they bother to come?

But, the more kids and families we are able to help establish deep connections through small groups and serving, the more consistent attendance we will see.  We'll talk more about serving in reason 5.  

Reason 4 - More blended families.

We talked about, with more blended families, many children are only able to attend every other week as they split their time between parents.  If they miss one of the weeks they could have attended, that means at best they will attend 2 out of 5 weeks. 

What causes a child to not want to miss church?  Even more than fun environments and engaging lessons, it's relationships.  When a child has a caring adult volunteer who knows his/her name, takes a personal interest in him/her, a child will not want to miss.  When a child has friends at church, he/she will not want to miss. 

This is made possible by having a solid team of committed, consistent volunteers who invest in the lives of the children.  Let me clarify that.  It means having enough volunteers to enable the proper ratios to take place.  A child cannot be known if there are 20 other kids in his or her group vying for the attention of a volunteer.

When a child is absent, he/she should receive a handwritten miss you card and then an appropriate phone call to the parents if he/she misses more than two weeks in a row.   

Reason 5 - Lower expectations.

I think one reason people are attending church less frequently is because we have lowered the expectations of what it means to be part of a local church.  Have we asked for less commitment and gotten exactly what we've asked for?  Perhaps.

One step we can take is to speak into the lives of young parents.  Here's an example.  Shift "baby dedication" to being "parent & baby dedication."  Make the dedication just as much about the parents as you do the child.  Attach a class that parents must go through before their child is dedicated.  And in the class, talk not only about what the dedication means, but also about the benefits that come from attending church faithfully.  If we can help parents grasp this and set their priorities when their children are young, we can see more families be committed to faithful church attendance.

I've saved this next point for last, because I personally believe it is the biggest factor in seeing families attend church consistently.  It's a simple step that can have a profound effect on families' attendance patterns. 

Think with me for a minute.  Which families in your church attend the most consistently?  It's the ones who serve.  When people engage in serving, they are much more consistent in their attendance, right? 

I believe one of the best ways to see families attend church more often is to enlist them to serve.  Through serving, relationships are made.  Through serving, a heart for others is developed.   Through serving, expectations are raised.  Through serving, commitment levels are brought up.

How can you make this happen?  It starts by creating a church culture that makes serving a core value.  It's the old saying "every member is a minister."  If you are going to part of our church family, then you are expected to serve.  That's what family does. 

As I work with churches across the country, this is what I am observing.  The churches that are seeing families attend consistently, are the churches that involve families in serving. 

I remember one weekend when we decided to shorten the worship service and have a service project afterwards.  Families would come out of the service and help put together meal kits that would be shipped to a country in need.  We announced it for a few weeks leading up to the day and guess what happened?  Families came out by the droves and attendance shot up.  Why?  We involved them in serving. 
Serving = more consistent church attendance. 
Let's take it a step further.  Kids love to volunteer, don't they?  Ask a group of kids who wants to help and nearly every single child will raise their hand.  What if you taught kids the important of serving and then shared with them serving opportunities they could do with their parents?  

Remember...a child shall lead them?  I believe it.  If we will get kids excited about serving with their parents, they will enlist their parents to serve with them.  

Here's an example.  You set a goal to have 10 new families be greeters each week.  You share the opportunity with your elementary kids to be a greeter with their parents and then encourage them to talk with their parents about it.  You then follow up with the parents of the kids who were interested and invite them to be volunteer greeters as a family.  You could see great results from it.

There used to be a day when sitting on the church pew and listening to a sermon was enough to see families attend consistently.  Not any more.  Today it takes engaging families in serving and forming deeper relationships to see them attend consistently.  

Okay.  It's your turn.  How can we see families attend more consistently?  I'd love to see your thoughts in the comment section below. 

1 comments:

Great stuff as always. We changed our "baby dedication" to a "parent child dedication a long time ago, it's a great chance to say "We are committed to walking along side you through your childs 18 years" and cast bigger vision of community. Also people will commit more faithfully to where they are Needed and Known!

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