We’ve all seen them. The complimentary glossy family photo’s displayed in picture frames at stores. At first glance, the photo gives you a glimpse of an imaginary family to help compliment the frame. The people in the photo are all smiles, with super white straight teeth. Their attire is coordinated. The kids are calm, poised with angelic smiles. The picture is marketed to give the appearance of a family photo. Trouble is, the people in that photo are (spoiler alert) hired models. At Orange, we have named this family the Stock family.
Sometimes ministries attempt at reaching the Stock family. The Stock family would be at church every week. They would take home all handouts and read them. But just like the stock photo, this is not necessarily a real family in 2017. Take a closer look and we see families today truly have packed schedules. Their lives are filled with highs and lows of a fast paced life of marriage and parenting. Their days filled with pressures at work and home, their finances, school and homework at the end of the day. Let’s not forget soccer and dance schedules. They may be a blended family. They may be a single parent. And any impression of what church is like may look different. Some may have attended as kids, some only at Christmas and Easter. Church may not even be on the radar of the real Stock family.
Real families living day to day are all around your community. They drive by your church as they run to events. They may have even have visited your church, or attend now and then.
At heart, parents share a common thread no matter what the home dynamic is. They care about their kids and they want to be a good parent. While there are no perfect pictures (Stock family photos), there are parents who love their kids and want the best for their future.
No matter the size of your church, ministry teams must keep the conversation going on how to help all families take a next step in faith. It may initially be a casual introduction to your church. What are first impressions? Be a welcoming place to let parents know you are there, and you want to partner with them. Offer practical helps to do life as a real family. And when they start attending regularly (note: in the U.S. average attendance is now twice a month for attending church), put a consistent voice in their child’s life. This consistent voice is a small group leader who will get to know their son or daughter, and build a relationship to help kids process faith during each phase they pass through. God has a story He wants to tell through families. It’s a story of redemption and restoration. It’s a picture of the Cross—and how God wants to live big in their daily lives.
Have a conversation about what it looks like to reach all families. Ask some honest questions. Do you make it an easy invite for current families to invite neighbors, co-workers? More than words, are their environments for families? Is there a family strategy? How does this look to practically help in your community as a church? Talk through practical ways to partner with parents. Give them fellowship. Help them take a next step. God is drawing families. He wants to introduce them to His powerful story of redemption and restoration.