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When Churches Want a Pastor Who Can “Bring in Young Families”

When Churches Want a Pastor Who Can

Almost every church I’ve ever known has wanted to reach young families. The reasoning behind this includes the following:

  • If we don’t regenerate, everyone will eventually get old and die.
  • It’s energizing to have young people around.
  • Younger members can do the work that older members can’t/won’t do anymore.
  • Older members tend to be on fixed incomes and younger working members are needed for their pledges.
  • Young families (i.e., mom, dad and kids) remind us of church when we were (or wish we were) part of young families.

There are a few things wrong with this reasoning, including the fact that “attracting” people in general feels manipulative—as if people are “targets” to be used for our own purposes. Yuck.

Why Do We Want Young Families?

Let’s be honest about the “why“ when we want to reach young families. Are we saying that we want these rare and valuable young families for what they can give to us? What if—instead—the “why” of this demographic quest was about feeding souls and sharing authentic community? I always hoped—as a young mom—that church would provide adults that could help me nurture my children. I always wanted to know that—if my kids couldn’t come to me or HH with a problem—they would have other trustworthy adults to whom they could go (and they did).

Young families are great. Old families are great. Families made up of child-free couples are great. Families of single people are great. Imagine if every church simply wanted a Pastor Who Could Bring in Broken People. Now that’s a church.

Also, the days are gone when young families were present in worship every Sunday. The statistics are in about how the definition of “regular worship” has changed since the 1950s. (“Regular” used to mean weekly. Now it means once or twice a month.)