Engaging Young Families

by Tim Matthews

“How can our church reach more young families?” This is a very common question that almost every church in America is asking itself. Why are they asking this question? Because “young families” is a demographic that is proving to be harder and harder for the Church to reach and connect with. Most young families (in which the parents are in their late 30s or younger) are part of the largest living generation on the planet, the Millennials. Every major study of this generation will tell you that most churches are struggling to reach and engage this particular demographic of people. So, what can be done? Well, that answer is complex. And this article is not designed to hash all that out. However, I do believe there are simple ways your church can improve at reaching and engaging young families in your specific context. Here are just a few of those ways.

  1. Engage Them Online

Social Media

Social media in today’s culture is the power drill of your toolbox. A power drill comes in handy in so many ways in large building projects. In the same way, social media holds the multi-faceted ability to engage all cultures, backgrounds, demographics and beliefs. In order for your power drill to be properly equipped, it needs to be charged and fastened with the right drill bit. The two most common and widely used social media platforms among young millennial families are Instagram and Facebook. These are perfect platforms to engage, connect, and inform this demographic. Here are five steps to using social media to build your church.

  1. Reap what you sow.

The more media and information that is presented, the more engagement and traffic there will be. People spend great portions of their day on their phones scrolling and surfing social media. The more media you put out and the more engaging content you provide, the more chances you have to reach people.

  1. Stay up to date.

Apps such as Facebook and Instagram are constantly changing and updating. It is important that you spend time learning what these updates do and how you can use them to promote your church and engage people. The creators of these apps know what they are doing; that’s why they are so successful. Use the updates and media tools to aid in creating an engaging an effective outreach arm of your church.

  1. Clear + Informative + Simple = Effective

As with any marketing, you need to be clear, informative and simple with the media you are putting out. Your graphics do not need to show excessive amounts of information. They need to serve their purpose while leaving your audience wanting more.

  1. No Blur, Grain or Black Bars

Your photos, videos and graphics must look professional. They need to be clear, without any blur, grain or black bars. Black bars are the result of filming a video vertically and then posting it to a horizontal format. Make sure you are aware of the video formatting before you film. Some require a horizontal video while others require vertical.

  1. Lead them toward your front door.

Identify the goal for your social media. If your intention is to grow your church, then your media needs to lead potential members to your front door. Give them a window view of what your church is all about, but leave them wanting more.

Website

There are many similarities between an effective social media and an effective website. You want to have clear information that looks good and answers young families’ questions before they have time to ask them. They will want to know some key things quickly: “What is there for my kids?” and “What can I expect from my visit?” If you can answer these two questions without their having to use a search bar, then you are moving in the right direction.

To engage young families online, you must have effective social media platforms as well as a website worth visiting. Everything you do online should have the goal of leading them to your door. There must be a fluid transition from their screen to your church parking lot so you can engage them on your campus.

  1. Engage Them on Campus

Whenever you are invited by a friend to an event at a stranger’s house, you go there with a certain set of expectations. You expect to find the destination easily, be greeted upon your arrival, and enjoy your time with newfound friends. The same is true when a new young family visits your church.

Once they find out all of the information about your church online through your website and social media accounts, young families carry with them a set of expectations when they visit your church on a Sunday morning. Here are some of these expectations. Young families want to:

  • Locate your church easily using Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, etc.
  • Find a convenient parking spot
  • Check in their kids as pain-free as possible
  • Meet some people in the same life-stage

If you want young families to find a home in your church, meeting these expectations is the bare minimum. Exceeding these expectations is the best way to ensure their return. Your church can really impress these young families by showing them smiles on the members of the parking team, by having a staff member or key volunteer meet them at the front door and walk them through the process of checking in their kids, and by introducing them to other young families. Fulfilling these tasks helps prime young families to engage with God through your church.

  1. Engage Them in Community

How does your church help young families find community? Here at Prestonwood, we believe deeply that small-group ministry is the best way for people of all ages and life-stages to connect with one another and grow in their walk with Jesus. All of us have needs that can only be met through relationships with others. Whether your church has the capacity for small groups (we call them LifeGroups at Prestonwood) to meet on campus, in homes, or a hybrid of the two, young families need opportunities to connect with other young families. They need a place to study the Bible with other believers, have accountability in their walk with Jesus, and receive encouragement from their peers. Your church’s worship experience is vitally important. There is no substitute for the “big room” where corporate worship takes place and where God’s people sit under the preaching and teaching of His Word. But as I mentioned before, people need community. If you want to engage young couples in your church, be sure you have opportunities for them to meet other couples in their own life-stage and find deep, meaningful relationships with others.

Tim Matthews is Minister to Adults at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

Credit to Peyton Coker and Luke Humphrey for research and assistance.

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