As a young mom, Sundays are hard. Managing to get all of us dressed, fed, (and sometimes dressed again if breakfast took a turn) and out the door on time is a true feat of willpower, focus, and detailed scheduling. That’s why I’m so thankful for leaders who are intentional about creating strategies that support and encourage young parents. We need it! 🙂 This week’s guest blog post comes from Susan McPherson from Esther Press as she shares 4 strategies for supporting young parents in your church…
As a church leader, your dedication to the body of Christ correlates with a calling to encourage and support fellow believers. Young parents in your church can especially use this support as they navigate the new world of parenthood.
As you welcome young families into your church, the best way to strengthen relationships with them is by offering your support—but how? In this post, we’ll explore four strategies you can employ to better serve young parents in your congregation:
- Encourage young parents with relevant resources.
- Cultivate a community among young parents.
- Offer space for kids to grow during church too.
- Give generously to young parents.
Strong relationships can engage church members, grow your congregation, and increase your church’s impact. More importantly, you can better build the kingdom of God when you first work on loving your neighbor. With that in mind, let’s get started.
1. Encourage young parents with relevant resources.
Books, Bible verses, worship songs, and other resources can serve as powerful tools of encouragement. While each young family will experience their own, unique circumstances, look for materials that offer general encouragement for young parents.
For moms, Bible studies on motherhood can offer helpful insights and advice. Esther Press’s guide to women’s Bible studies covers three different categories of studies: topical, scriptural, and Bible character.
Similarly, you can share Bible studies or books with dads about “training up a child in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6). Equipped with scriptural and valuable advice from these resources, young parents can take a more informed and confident approach to parenting. Find Deeper KidMin resources for families here.
2. Cultivate a community of young parents.
Imagine you arrive at a family gathering in athleticwear, but everyone else is wearing formal attire. You might feel uncomfortably out of place until someone else arrives in formal attire and sits next to you. No one wants to feel alone, and the same can be said for young parents in your congregation. They’re juggling all sorts of new to-do’s—give them confidence and encouragement by making them feel welcome.
Faith-building in young families requires daily support from the body of Christ, and your church can cultivate this by fostering a supportive community of young parents. A close-knit community of young parents can provide:
- Practical advice: Especially if they’re first-time parents, young couples may have questions about the safest car seat to purchase or tips for cleaning apple juice stains. A community within your church can provide this practical advice and help young parents navigate situations that only people in similar situations would understand.
- Spiritual lessons: Shared experiences can often help people interpret situations in similar ways. Young parents might commiserate over dirty diapers and the “terrible twos” together, but they’ll also be able to share what they’ve been learning in each parenting situation they face.
- Daily reminders: It may be difficult to remember a child’s school play or field trip for people who aren’t parents. However, a committed community of young parents who pray and show up for each other in their similar daily situations can make a positive impact. This opens the gateway for constant reminders of God’s goodness, whether that’s with a positive text message or by using the Bible as the sword of the Spirit.
Encourage these relationships by launching a text chain or Facebook group for the young parents at your church. Through these channels, you can facilitate conversations and coordinate fun events to help everyone get to know each other.
3. Offer space for kids to grow during church too.
All of the responsibilities that come with parenthood may make it difficult for some families to attend and pay attention during your church’s regularly scheduled service. And as important as it is for parents to be spiritually edified through their involvement in church, churches should also lead kids in worship to help them pursue their faith at a young age.
Unless your services are specifically geared toward the whole family, offer spaces and places for children to go while parents attend the main service. Divide these spaces and places among different age groups, offering a nursery for babies, a children’s ministry program with intentional curriculum for young kids, and a youth group for older children. If your church is hosting other events, like worship nights or community outreach volunteering events, consider offering a child-friendly version of those events at the same time so parents don’t have to find childcare and their children are included in the activities.
4. Give generously to young parents.
Parenthood requires new needs for living, and your church should make an effort to donate these needs to young parents. Depending on their children’s ages, parents might benefit from:
- School supplies: Help ease the burden of shopping for school supplies by collecting donations of school supplies for the young parents in your congregation. Then, include young parents on the church-wide prayer list so that the whole church can take part in praying over each child’s school year.
- A baby shower: Host a baby shower for moms of newborn babies. Invite all the women in the church and ask everyone to bring a gift, such as baby clothes or diapers.
- A clothing drive: No matter their age, all kids need clothes. Accept clothing donations through a churchwide clothing drive and disperse the donated clothing items among young parents in the congregation who need them.
Don’t forget to give gifts that benefit parents, as well. Along with spiritual resources like encouraging Christian books for women, give fun gifts for parents’ enjoyment. For example, some parents have school supplies and clothing for their children, but can’t afford to go out on a date because of it. Gift cards to local restaurants can make great gifts for young parents.
Young parents need support in various ways, and their needs will change over time as they encounter new challenges in parenthood. The best way to make sure you meet their needs is to ask directly how you can help. And, even if a young couple doesn’t need help when you ask, make sure they know about your available services.
Author Bio: Susan McPherson is the Author Acquisitions Editor and Women’s Community Lead for Esther Press. Esther Press empowers courageous women through a movement of diverse voices that calls women to flourish in the fullness of their God-given gifts and invites them on a deeper journey into God’s Word.