How Can You Reach Young Families with Kids in Your Community?

Every church asks this question or should be asking this question! It doesn’t matter whether you are a church of 10 people or hundreds of people, we should be actively inviting young families into the life of our faith community. So, how do we do this in a genuine and heartfelt way?

Begin by connecting with young families in your congregation. Ask them what drew them to your church? What do they love about the community? Who do they know that God may be calling you to invite? And, what needs do they have that your congregation could find a way to meet? If you don’t currently have any young families involved, then go out into your community where they are – school and sporting events, parent clubs, community/fitness centers, etc. Offer a personal invitation to a gathering at a local coffee shop. Pick up the tab and open a dialogue with them about the felt needs of young families in your community. Three critically important things to do during this gathering are (1) listen, (2) resist judgement, and (3) invite leadership. These three practices will make the gathering – and any other, for that matter – not only productive but potentially the beginning of an important relationship for your community.

Recently, I met with a church leader who was struggling to understand why their event for young parents had a very small turnout. When I asked about the event, they shared that they had picked a great local venue, at just the right day and time. They had advertised through social media, but only three young moms showed up. I asked this leader, “How many people were involved in planning the event?” They responded, “Just me.” I said, “And three showed up, that’s amazing! You tripled your investment.” They looked puzzled, so I shared that the key to engagement is leadership.

I suggested (1) inviting those three young moms to be the planning team for the next event or gathering; (2) dividing up the responsibilities and incorporating their insights, creativity, and ideas into the event; and (3) encouraging each to invite their friends. When I called after the next event, the leader told me fourteen had shown up this time. “Wow,” I said, “that’s more than Jesus had, and His group changed the world!”

Far too often, we see our churches as offering programs for consumption rather than actively and intentionally making disciples. We work to create programs hoping people will come, when real ministry is inviting investment in a relationship and community. When this investment becomes the driving focus, your volunteer leaders will invite everyone they know to be involved. We’ve seen it happen in extraordinary ways through Resurrection’s Building Better Moms ministry, which reaches hundreds of women twice a month, completely led by volunteers.

I believe your church can reach young families in your community too! Get out there where young families are and speak their language to find out what they need, just as Jesus did when he spoke to farmers about seeds, fisherman about their catch, and lovingly healed those who needed his touch.

Jason Gant is a licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church and leads Resurrection’s ministry with children and families across all of our locations, including online. You will often find him dreaming of new ways to do effective ministry…or way out on a mountain stream fly fishing! He is married to Scharme, and they have two teenage daughters.