9 Ways to Be a Child-Friendly Church

Researchers at Barna found that 58% of parents say children's ministry programming is the primary reason they chose their current church. In fact, if you want to be a church that is actively reaching the unchurched in your community, your children's ministries play a huge role. You could say that the way to the parents’ hearts is through great ministries to their kids!

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Recently I was speaking with a friend I had not seen in a while. As we caught up on our lives, she mentioned that her family had changed churches. I was surprised because I knew she had really enjoyed the teaching at the church they had been attending, so I asked her why. 

“Well, the kids were bored at our old church and some of their friends had invited them to come to Wednesday night activities at (the new church) and they loved it. So we switched. It’s more important right now that our kids are engaged and making friends at church,” she explained. 

And she is not the only parent to feel this way. Researchers at Barna found that 58% of parents say children’s ministry programming is the primary reason they chose their current church

In fact, if you want to be a church that is actively reaching the unchurched in your community, your childrens and youth ministries play a huge role. You could say that the way to the parents’ hearts is through great ministries to their kids! 

In most population centers in the US, over 40% of the households will contain children. So making parents and their children feel comfortable in your church is a huge step toward turning visitors into returning guests and eventually into regular attenders.

If you no longer have small children at home, try to remember what it’s like to get everyone up, dressed, in the car and to church on time Sunday morning. Now think about what it’s like if you are visiting a new church—where do you take your kids? Do the kids stay with you during service, leave mid-way through or start in the children’s area? Is the children’s area clean, safe, fun? What if there is an “incident” while you are in the service?

If you can think like a visiting parent and put yourself in their shoes, you will go a long way to helping them feel comfortable. Taking proactive steps to answer their questions and unspoken concerns up front is a huge step in the right direction when starting or improving upon your children’s ministry.

As with many other things, the key to being friendly to families is really based on communication. Parents will feel more comfortable if they meet your volunteers, tour your classrooms and understand your check-in, security and notification processes. 

Easy Ways You Can Make Your Church Child-friendly

  1. Position extra greeters in your lobby and welcome center who can walk parents and kids to the children’s area and explain the check in procedure and answer questions.
  2. Have clear signage in your lobby directing parents to classrooms. 
  3. If your church welcomes children into the service but has a special kids program part way through, make sure visitors understand how this works. To make everyone comfortable, it can be a good idea to dismiss kids during a song and offer parents a chance to go with them to see the children’s area.
  4. Let parents with babies know about your cry room options if they choose to take their baby into service. Ensure that your cry room is welcoming and comfortable. Don’t make parents feel like they have been banished from the service.
  5. Explain to parents how they will be notified if there is a problem with their children during the service. And try to set up a system that isn’t embarrassing for guests – use discrete numbers instead of full names etc…
  6. Find a good balance between offering a secure area for children and creating too much time-consuming red tape. Do as much as necessary to make your children’s ministry secure and safe, then leave it at that.
  7. Ensure kids and parents feel comfortable in your classrooms. Offer bright spaces with fun graphics, age-appropriate toys, chairs and tables and a fun and safe atmosphere. 
  8. Make sure your children’s ministry is set-up to accommodate special requests. If you offer snacks, ask parents about dietary restrictions or allergies and then adhere to the requests.
  9. Finally, when parents come to pick up their kids, thank them for coming. Tell them how much you would love to see their kids come back next week. If you can offer the kids and parents a free gift for visiting that is an extra bonus.

Creating a fun, welcoming children’s ministry can remove the barriers that can discourage families from attending church, such as finding childcare. Plus, parents will be able to relax and engage with the adult service better when they know their children are safe and having fun!

Carri Gambill

Carri Gambill

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