Are Kids’ Impressions Affecting Church Attendance?

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about the challenges of getting her kids to church. This friend is the mom of two young kids and one on the way. She makes the parenting thing look pretty simple most of the time, but her kids get bored at church and sometimes put up enough of a struggle on Sunday mornings that the whole family skips church altogether because it’s just easier.

In the thousands of churches we’ve researched, we’ve read similar feedback about the challenges parents face when it comes to getting their kids to church. A mystery guest hired by our firm (Faith Perceptions) said this:

“If my kids like church and want to go,
it makes getting everyone dressed and there
on time so much easier on me.”

So, why are kids putting up such a fuss about going to church? Here are some reasons:

  • They find it boring
  • They don’t know anyone
  • They have no relationship with leaders or peers
  • They don’t feel it’s relevant and the space isn’t kid-friendly

Those reasons are negatively impacting kids’ impressions of the church and ultimately can lead to them to not want to come at all.  And, while some may say the answer is to just make them go anyway (I’m that parent) that’s not going to be every parent’s approach.

How can churches get kids excited to walk in the doors on Sunday morning? Okay, excited may be an overstatement, but there are ways to get kids past the “I don’t want to go to church” feeling.

Provide Relevant Curriculum
Kids need to feel connected to what is happening in their church and the church needs to be connected to what is happening with them. Kids face a host of challenges every day and our leaders and volunteers need to be in touch with those challenges and prepared to talk about them in an appropriate and relevant way in order to help them navigate through those tough situations. Check out Tru curriculum for Pre-K through middle school aged children to get some ideas on how to do this.

Provide Relevant Space
Walk into most schools and you’ll find classrooms equipped with current technology for teaching. Walk into many churches and you’ll find those tools are non-existent. The younger generation is becoming increasingly visual. Bring a fresh approach to your teaching style by using current methods of technology to teach. Renovating your kid’s ministry to be inviting (kid-friendly), engaging, and fun will get kids excited about being there.

Engage and Connect
As an adult, I’m aware of the fact that new situations can make me nervous. How much more intimidating is it for kids to walk into a new place with people they’ve never met? One church we worked with in Alabama took measures to make families feel comfortable from the moment they arrived. They have extra volunteers available at each service to spend time connecting with kids and their families. During that time, they give tours, provide information about the ministry, answer questions, and help connect kids with leaders of those ministries and other kids their age.

Communicate with Parents
Children’s and youth ministries are some of the most important factors in getting new families in the door of your church and keeping them there. We surveyed parents of a kid’s ministry in the south and the number one complaint they had was lack of communication about upcoming events and what their kids were learning. Some ways you can increase communication is by having a kid’s ministry page on your website. This gives families an idea of what the ministry is about and how they can take part. Using social media updates so that parents can see what’s going on at a glance and ask questions is also helpful. And, providing them with a take-home sheet from their child’s lesson so they can discuss it as a family keeps them informed on what their kids are learning. By communicating and equipping parents with information, you help them keep their kids engaged and reinforce those teachings at home.

Long gone are the days where most parents are willing to drag their kids to church every week. When the church offers a relevant ministry and finds ways to connect with families, they create ministries that kids WANT to be part of. Our world is changing. The focus on the gospel should never change, but the way it is presented can make all the difference.

Let’s hear how your church is playing a part in changing some of the negative perceptions kids have.

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