Two out of Three Families Attend Church Because of Children

By Roy Maynard

Kingwood United Methodist Church’s Wrynn Homann knows how busy young families are, particularly in the fall, as school begins and everyone learns their new routines. But that’s also when families can feel the least connected—and when the church can step in. After all, two out of three families that attend church say they do so because of their children, the Pew Research Center reports.

“What we find is that young families aren’t just looking for things to do as families, though that’s important,” she said. “They’re also looking for someone to come alongside them, to help them with the different challenges they face.”

Kingwood UMC’s Young Families Ministry has gone beyond its successful Vacation Bible School and Sunday school classes to include missions activities, small groups for parents and even parenting classes.

There’s a kind of isolation that can come with a new and growing family, Ms. Homann explains. Just as with the paradox of people feeling less connected in a hyper-connected world, there’s a role for the church here, to help families establish real relationships and meaningful connections.

“Families go through a lot of transitions, and we want to help with that,” she said. “The transition to starting elementary school, going into middle school—these are stressful times for families.”

The goal is to show them they’re not alone, she said, and help them understand the issues their children are facing. That’s where parenting classes have been particularly useful. The church has brought in experts on things such as technology and mental illness. They’ve also focused on parents of children under the age of 10.

“Also we’ve had a class for the teens, talking about how to keep the lines of communications with their parents open,” she said.

The ministry has also held family retreats and hosted missions opportunities. In June, for example, the ministry held a four-day Mission Madness event.

But it’s not just about the events. To make the program successful, Ms. Homann added, she had to rethink her definition of success.

“When I first stepped into the role, I felt like I needed to have this many people at this event,” she said. “But that’s just numbers. The quality is more important—and your goals. What do you want people to get out of this? Is it just a bouncy castle to jump in? Or is there more to it?”

Growth is important, she said, but growth should be measured by more than just head-counts.

“What we really need to think about is how we’re affecting people,” she said. “Are we making an impact? You have to look at all of that.”

The ministry is now looking for ways to reach out to a growing segment of the community that is being underserved—foster and adoptive families.

“These are often families with lots of foster kids, and they don’t have a lot of money,” she said. “They’re looking for things to do that are both free and meaningful. So when we have events, we reach out to those families to make sure they know.”