Family friendly

August 5, 2011

I am reading (re-reading) Bryan Haynes book, ShiftWhat it takes to really reach families today.  I am trying to process it not only from where I have been, but also to process it from where I am heading.  How do I as part of a team, help a church (or many churches) become more family friendly.

There are dozens of books written on the subject, (non written by me. [Yet.]) entire curricula produced with the family in mind, and thousands of pastors thinking orange. 

Yet, “Most of the structures of daily life actually pull families apart.”  (Shift,  Bryan Haynes, Group Publishing, copyright 2009,  Page 29)  And in my mind, the truly sad part of this equation is that most churches are doing the same thing, pulling families apart.  Think about this for a moment, how many churches can you think of that do this:  The family arrives at church, dad heads down one hallway with the 1st and 3rd grader, mom heads down another with the baby, while the middle-school student heads to a different building.  On Tuesday its Middle School night, Wednesday it’s Kids night, and Friday its High School night.

Parents are certainly welcome but rarely encouraged to be a part of their kids spiritual training.

So if the family “went to church together” twice a week they would end up with 2 preschool lessons, 2 elementary lessons, 2 lessons for middle school, 2 for high school and two for adults.   If your church has a separate Worship and Sunday School hour, change all those numbers to three.  And rarely do they have anything to do with each other!  How is the family possibly supposed to grow together spiritually if there are 10 -15 separate lessons coming home from church each week?  And which one should be the center of focus?  What one thing should each member of the family learn?  What should the parents be teaching their kids?  Oh, wait, should parents be teaching spiritual things to their kids?  Isn’t that the church’s job? 

By the way most church’s structure their programming it sure seems like it’s the job they want.

Two viable alternatives:

1.  Have the family worship together.  Make sure the service contains elements that all ages will enjoy (not necessarily at the same time.)   Teach children (of all ages) how you want them to behave in church.  Send them home with something to talk about together.

2.  Separate everyone when they enter the building so you can teach each age in the most appropriate manner, but teach everyone the same lesson.  Same story from the Bible, same main point, different application for each age group.  Send them home with something to talk about together.  This takes a real team, not just a pastor and his staff.

Both alternative one and two take more work on the part of the church staff.  They require the staff to work together.  The outcomes would be so superior.  The responsibility for spiritual nourishment would revert back to where it belonged, in the home.   The church staff would once again be the guide, the asset, the help that the family really needs.


There is no question that I am exposing my own personal bias.  (Okay, it’s not my own, it’s a bias shared by many.)  But this is what I would like to see.  So, where are my flaws?  What am I missing?  How would you do church differently?  Or would you leave things as they are?  Statistics support my argument, but you can make statistics say anything you want.  So give me some feedback, some pushback even, but lets talk about this a bit.


2 Responses to “Family friendly”

  1. Sue said

    The first thing that comes to mind is that are many different ways to grow closer to God thru the Church. In my opinion the way, whether together in worship and teaching, or as individuals in separate age groups (life situations, classes, programs,) matters less to me than that we are growing, and sharing what we’re learning. As long as each family member is loved, and growing closer and closer to God, I’m happy. I think that it’s interesting to study churches and compare the various ways to grow. There certainly is no lack of opportunities to grow closer to God, if we want to. Hopefully, I am setting a good example for my children to press on and love God with wholehearted devotion no matter what changes come in church, church stats and church programming.

  2. Tim Miller said

    I would agree that there many ways to grow closer to Christ. My struggle is that parents abdicate their responsibility and the church willingly takes on the role of PARENT.

    There ARE many ways to grow but is the parents responsibility to be the spiritual champion, the teacher/leader of their children. The church’s role is to help parents, not replace them. Most parents don’t even know what the church is teaching their kids, many church leaders do not give ANYTHING to parents to help them help their own kids grow spiritually.

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