A Common Church Dilemma: How Your Leaders and Families Can Make a Difference

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own.

I believe this is an area where all church members are responsible….not just leaders. The church is the body, not a building. I imagine I am sensitive to making young adults and families feel welcome during a church event or worship service because I was saved as an adult with small children. I distinctly remember the warmth we felt as we entered the door on that first Sunday going to church as a family. I have noticed that younger families and young adults have a tendency to be a one time visitor rather than an active member of the body than an average or older adult coming to visit for the first time.

It's not just the leaders who are responsible for this common church dilemma. Do you agree?

How to Attract Young Adults and Families and Keep Them Coming Back

Many churches across the country are seeing a rise in the average age of their congregations. While the number of elderly churchgoers is rising or at least remaining consistent, numerous churches are finding that there is a dearth of young adults or families with young children populating their pews. Some of those in leadership believe that simply changing the style of their worship services to include contemporary music will be enough to bolster their numbers in this area. However, there is actually much more to it than that. Modern churches must find ways to appeal to the younger crowd while remaining true to their beliefs.

Surprisingly to some, young adults are not looking to get away from traditional spiritual principles; on the contrary, there is a growing trend towards high church among young adults as well as a commitment to a daily devotional life. In other words, these young people are interested in Bible reading, prayer and some forms of liturgy. Churches can also reach out to young adults by offering various ministries that specifically target this age group. Churches that offer young adult or college-age Bible studies and groups often find that they have a higher attendance in this age category on Sunday. In addition, while young adults tend to like some high church, they also feel quite comfortable with new technology. Therefore, churches can make an effort to incorporate this technology during their services and while online. Churches can create social media pages, use projectors during worship services, create a mobile-friendly website and much more.

While families with children have some of the same needs at church, they also have a slightly different set of problems. These individuals need to feel welcome even with their young children. They do not want to feel judged if their child is crying during a service, and they do not want to feel that they cannot attend events because their children are not welcome. Some ways that churches can combat this is by being sure to provide childcare during adult-centered events and by creating well-staffed nurseries. In fact, many parents, particularly those with newborns, appreciate being able to hear and even see the church service from the comfort of the nursery. In addition, churches can help parents to form playgroups where they can get together with church friends to chat, relax and have a safe place for sharing all while their children are playing together.

However, none of this will work unless spiritual leaders and church workers are genuine and caring while actively reaching out to church attendees. Leaders can find small group studies, media and more at several online sites, such as at Creative Pastors. Special interest conferences can also appeal to young adults and families. Ed Young is just one such speaker who can apply spiritual truths to everyday concerns.

Those churches that stand firm in their beliefs are much more appealing to young adults and families than are those that change with the culture. Younger people want to feel that the church is reaching out to them and that they have an important role to play in their local church. Church leadership would benefit from embracing newer technology and adding appropriate programs to their calendar of events while putting major effort into being genuine and caring in their communication.

I challenge you as a family to make a difference in this common church dilemma. Start a playgroup or small group as a family. You can be part of the restoring this common church dilemma.  Feel free to pass this message along to your friends and church body.


  1. Thank you for writing this! My hubby is a family minister and our church is at a crossroads of sorts. Our church has recently committed to doing whatever it takes to reach young families, but many of our members still don’t quite know what that means. This post is particularly helpful because it provides a voice for those we’re trying to serve.

  2. Greetings dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

    I am writing to express what had been on my heart for quite some time now and this is in no way in hopes of starting a debate of any sort.

    Our young family was relocated due to work related opportunity almost a year ago and are still in search of an assembly.

    We are searching for a place to worship our God. To remember what the Lord did for each and everyone of us. A place that shows a love for the truth. A place that puts Him above all else.

    A church should not have to compromise and try to go along with today’s fad to attract those who are truly seeking. Where then does our faith lie? Is it in Him or on ourselves?

    Technology like a microphone and speaker is nice to have so people can hear messages being brought clearly, but projectors and other technology brought into service can bring distractions.

    It is nice to feel welcomed. After all, as Christians, we are part of one body and family of God. But we should not attend thinking “what can I receive”, but rather “what can I offer Him” and that is His Son. The only acceptable offering.

    I apologize for the long post and will end here.

    • Our family suffers this every few years as we uproot ourselves and replant where the Air Force sends us. We’ve tried various denominations depending on availability where we’ve lived. We are currently going to a Lutheran church (it’s a mixed Lutheran if that makes any sense). We prefer old-fashioned, Bible-quoting, awe-inspiring instead of the contemporary world-compromising churches we’ve seen and that many of our acquaintances attend. With that conservativism often comes legalism and that I will not abide. It’s such a difficult conundrum. I pray you find a church home that welcomes you! Church shopping is worse than swimsuit shopping – what lasts for a season and makes us feel unworthy of course doesn’t compare to where we want to knit our souls and lives to others but the ill feelings are similar.

  3. Thank you for getting this conversation started! I’ve seen and experienced this dilemma. In the 11 years we’ve been at our church, we’ve lost 5-10 families, or more that have moved towns or churches. We have new families come and go. All this time, we are there, on the fence for probably half of those years praying about whether to stay or go. We don’t feel connected. We don’t feel like anyone REALLY cares. We have surface level conversations. I never receive phone calls from any ladies there unless it’s a request to sub-teach a class for them. After all the prayers, we chose to stay and try to be a part of the change. But it is a slow process. I don’t think a program, class, or formal small group is going to fix this problem. I think it starts with real life (not social media) relationship building. Inviting families over to dinner, even if the house is a mess. Picking up the phone to call and just say hi or how are you? Like you said, playdates. Coffee, Lunch…Really connecting and talking. It goes back to “Do unto others what you would have them do to you.” Unfortunately I think we forget that all too often. Yes, this means stepping out of our comfort zone. But aren’t we called to that, as followers of Christ?

    • Hi Lori,

      I totally agree. It’s relationships and love that build a church. Awesome for your family’s decision to be part of the change. If we all had the attitude of what we can do for the church instead of what the church can do for us, we would all be stronger disciples.

  4. I agree with your point of view. I have been part of serving in some way in churches in the midwest and New England for over 40 years. I see our sons searching out those churches that offer community and are willing to invest daily in each other’s lives. Our son in Atlanta has house church (small group) his home during the week and I could not be happier to see how real God is in their lives. It may be time to move South. I would like to be part of this and where I am now does not have a program like this in place.
    Nicely written… thanks!

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