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Family Friendly Church by Ben Freudenberg and Rick LawrenceWe’re all looking for ways to attract new families to our congregations, and if the adage is true that a healthy, growing church is full of young children – then we need to discover ways to bring those families to our doors and keep them there once they arrive. The question is: how do we welcome families in our congregations, and do we have policies and programs in place to meet their needs?

In "The Family Friendly Church" by Ben Freudenburg and Rick Lawrence, the authors argue that to reach the needs of todays families with children, congregations must take a serious look at just what the church offers to make these families want to give up their precious time together and spend it at church.
First of all, the very church schedule can help families grow strong or it can hinder their relationships because it has a significant role in the life and faith of the family; that impact can be bad or good, depending upon the church’s structure and programming. For example, scheduling meetings or events which are age segregated on weeknights seperates the family instead of bringing them together. Or programming events or meetings are scheduled during times which preclude parents with young children from attending, particularly if no child care is provided.

Secondly, congregations often neglect to provide programming which addresses the concerns facing our families with children such as “how can we better support marital or partner relationships to lessen the likelihood of divorce and strengthen the family base?” or "how can we better support parents in their role as primary religious educators of their children?" We must help parents redefine their role in their kids’ faith development. We need to move them out of their roles as chauffers, cooks and homework enforcers into their role as primary faith nurturers. Presently, parents take their kids to church so the church can teach them their faith. Instead, kids should be taking their parents to church so that they can become well equipped to nurture faith development in their children.

Finally, if a congregation is serious about empowering families to nurture the faith of their children, it must be serious about staffing properly. Churches want and expect effective ministries to children, youth, and families, but they’re reluctant to staff adequately because they don’t understand the need. Nor do they understand that, without adequate staff, they cannot accomplish their mission. In addition, the staff that are there should not be overworked, overstressed or expected to sacrifice their own family lives for the good of the church – we must “walk our talk.”
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