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Dad sitting in a church row with his two daughters sitting on his left.
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3 Questions New Families Ask

Last year, I transitioned in ministry and moved across the country to a new community and new church. About six months into our transition, we’d settled into a church and begun a small group with our neighbors. I gleaned vital insights from those small-group families who were apprehensive about attending church with their children. Their insights gave me a greater understanding of how parents feel when they arrive at a church as the “new parents.” Here are new parents’ most pressing questions.


Question #1: Is it safe?

We live in an age where parents are apprehensive about leaving their children with just anyone. News feeds are full of stories that have the potential to leave parents petrified to hand over their kids. Whether we agree with their perceptions or not, this is their reality. This was certainly the case for a parent in our small group who said, “I’m scared to leave my kids with people I’ve never met.”

Questions for You

What procedures and training do you have that communicate a high value for safety? Does your website or promotional material communicate about safety? What do your staff and volunteers consistently communicate about safety? Shore up your practices and communication about safety where needed.

Question #2: Will I be accepted?

Many parents think they have to arrive at church as perfect parents with perfect kids. What’s more, some are afraid that “church people” might see what their family is really like. I used to play this exhausting game myself as a pastor with kids. Fortunately, my kids have had enough public meltdowns to afford me the opportunity to project what a real family looks like. But regardless, new families are genuinely concerned about whether they’ll be accepted by your church.

Questions for You

We must exude an authentic welcome that conveys love for families where they are and helps them grow in their relationship with Jesus. How do you communicate an authentic welcome that’s saturated in grace and acceptance? How can you allow families an authentic insight into your own inadequacies?

Question #3: Was it fun?

The first question most parents ask their kids after church is, “Did you have fun?” It’s easy to write off this question as trite in the grand scheme of things, but we must understand its importance. Fun and laughter open the door to faith development. To put it another way, children are more open to the life-changing truth of the gospel when they are emotionally comfortable.

Questions for You

Parents want their children to be begging them to go to church on Sunday because it’s engaging and fun. So how do parents see fun communicated visually in your environment and staging? How are your staff and volunteers creating experiences that are full of fun and laughter? Are you having fun in ministry?

When we overlook these important questions, it’s to the detriment of a new family who walks through our doors. Who are the new families in your ministry that can help you assess how safe, accepting, and fun your ministry is?

Phil Bell is a husband, father, writer, and the family life pastor at Hope Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is the author of Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering With Parents.

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3 Questions New Families Ask

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