Jul 19, 2018

A Big Reason Why Many Parents Are Not at Your 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.

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