Churches come in all shapes and sizes. Churches also reflect many kinds of people, sometimes called “tribes.” Some are defined purely by theological interpretation of the Bible, while others reflect the people and demographics of a church.
A family church is a congregation that is made up of mostly multi-generational families. These can include a nuclear family (mom, dad, kids), extended family (with aunts, uncles, cousins) and blended families like step parents, single moms, etc.
While some churches cater to singles and young working professionals, and others are dominated by downsizers (retired seniors, empty nested), family churches are anchored primarily by families of all ages.
I would make the case that churches that strive to be held together primarily by families, especially extended families, can have the greatest opportunity for discipleship. For example, a young, single college student, who moves to town to go to school, is in a point of need. While many people assume that this student is trying to “get as far away from his parents as possible”, he may actually be missing older fatherly and motherly figures in his life. Elderly can also play a grandparent role for many of the youth within the church.
Churches that have a significant proportion of their congregation as families, with parents and children, can bring a wholistic approach to the social dynamic of a church.
Children are the next generation. Whether kids are toddlers, or teenagers, a church that has that entire spectrum of children can find hope and opportunity to Christ-like fruitfulness.
In addition, parents can often come to church exhausted. Church can be a restful reprieve, as kids meet other kids, and all can hear from God.
Throughout the Bible, God’s model often used households (also called families, ethne or oikos). In fact, many of the early church churches in Acts met in homes. Families gathered, and often, one large family, including business partners, servants, and extended family members, became the foundation of the church.
A church is people, rather than a building or a program. And it makes Biblical sense that if a church reaches families, it will reach many generations.
Family churches should also strive to help parents raise their children up in the Lord. Youth group and children’s programs should not be the primary discipler in a child’s life. Their parents should be. Discipleship should begin in the home.
But it's understand that today’s family may not function that way. Parents may have different beliefs. Single parents may be busy simply trying to keep the house running. Blended families have complex schedules and relationships.
While it is ideal to read the Bible together, pray, and even be involved in church activities together as a family, kids programs should help supplement that.
In our city, we’ve discovered several Reno family church distinctives. Are the leaders approachable? Is the children’s curriculum shared? Is there more than just gatherings on Sundays? Answering these questions positively can make a big difference.
How can you fnd or develop a church for families? Well, first, it all starts with prayer. Being focussed on depending on God to “build his church”.
In tactics and strategy, many churches in the USA assume that building a church for families starts with attraction and marketing. If the youth leader is cool enough, if the marriage conference has the best speakers, if the music is edgy. While these tactics can at times work, what is really needed is a deep community, that understands the needs of families, especially families with young children, and welcome them with wide arms. This includes adapting the space, program, and atmosphere to make church a place of ease and rest for parents, while kids are pointed towards Jesus.
Churches can try too hard to attract certain groups. Instead, it is important to simply be the church. Offering small groups that are designed for busy family life. Creating childrens church opportunities that are accessible, as well as opportunities for families to do church together, provides an ease of access and collaboration. This creates a healthy balance between focus, and integrated worship sessions at Sunday services.
There are traditional, larger churches in Reno that have typically been churches for families. God is using all of these churches to help reach families in the region.
But new families to Reno may also be looking for smaller church congregations, ones that are easier to get plugged in. Smaller churches can be beneficial in that their children and youth groups are not so overwhelming and institutional for newcomers to the area.
Whatever church you are looking for, look for one that reaches families as a major part of their congregation.
All People Christian Church has found a way to make family church accessible, doable and fun. The Sunday Service kids rooms are right next to the main Sanctuary, and the mid-week small groups have openings for students and families of all ages. If your family is looking for a church to connect deeply with, click on their contact us button or visit them on a Sunday!
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