4 Ways to Make Space for Moms at Church
If you’ve got children and teens in your church, you likely have their mothers to thank for bringing them.
In Households of Faith, a study produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries, data finds that mothers—more often than fathers, or any other category of frequent participants in households—are seen as the confidants, providers of support, and drivers of faith formation. They’re also the ones most likely to take the kids to church (79%) and teach kids about the Bible (66%), God’s forgiveness (66%), and religious traditions (72%).
Mothers are the main spiritual coaches for teens
Practicing Christians in their teen years consistently identify mothers as the ones who provide spiritual guidance and instruction and instill the values and disciplines of their faith in the household.
Moms are their teens’ foremost partners in prayer (63%) and conversations about God (70%), the Bible (71%) or other faith questions (72%). This is consistent with Barna data through the years that show mothers to be the managers of faith formation (among other household routines and structures).
What the Research Means
“Over and over, this study speaks to the enduring impact of mothers—in conversation, companionship, discipline and, importantly, spiritual development,” Alyce Youngblood, Barna’s managing editor for this report, says.
“Churches should ask pointed questions about how they’ve set up their ministries and how they can best support moms as they help support their families,” Youngblood suggests.
“Outside of women’s ministries or a certain Sunday in May, how often do sermons speak to the experiences of moms—whether single or married, working full-time or staying at home? Are programs for families and children based on realistic assumptions about the schedules of working parents?” Youngblood asks.
“Sometimes the demands of church involvement (for themselves, or for their children) might contribute to moms’ busyness or stress—are moms also being encouraged to observe sabbath, prioritize rest and rely on community? Additionally, would participation in some areas of ministry feel like a help or hindrance for single parents who are already carrying a heavy load?
These are just a few considerations that can help churches become even more valuable partners in the sacred work mothers are already doing at home.”
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What Moms Want in a Church
In light of this Barna data that shows the critical role mothers play in their children’s faith formation, here are four additional ways that Aspen strives to create mom-friendly space at church:
1. Safety and security
For many parents, dropping their child at the nursery or children’s area can be a stressful, chaotic experience. For first-time attenders, if they don’t feel assured that the nursery and kids’ ministry areas are built with safety and security in mind, they are not likely to return.
“Security is the number one conversation churches want to have with us when we’re discussing a remodel or building project where kids space is addressed,” says Greg Snider, account executive for Aspen Group.
Here are some questions to consider:
- How easy is the check-in/check-out process?
- How safe is the children’s area for ensuring outsiders don’t have access to the children after they’re checked in?
- How smoothly and safely does the check-out process go when it’s time to retrieve your child after the service?
These are the features parents notice, and how well a church tends to these details speaks volumes about the value they place on the safety of their children’s ministry.
2. Traffic flow
Having space for the transitional check-in/check-out time—including larger corridors to relieve congestion and create easier traffic flow, especially for parents with strollers—goes a long way toward serving the needs of parents with young children, especially if they have multiple kids to pick up.
When Aspen worked with The Fields Church in Mattoon, Illinois, we focused on improving both the security and the traffic flow of their children’s area. By moving the children’s area from the back of the church to the front, they were able to better convey the importance the church places on serving families.
3. Connecting Space
What mom doesn't want a cup of coffee or tea when she's at church? Coffee stations and even full-fledged cafes are becoming "must haves" in the churches we're working with. Along with providing a Third Place space for visitors and regular attenders to mingle between services, they also offer a much-needed benefit to harried moms who long for a warm cup of comfort.
4. A Sanctuary for Moms
Another important feature for parents, especially if they’re new to your church, is to provide a section of the sanctuary that’s designated for family worship. Some churches want the worship service to be quiet and less distracting, but there are a lot of first-time visitors who might not be ready to drop their kids off in the children’s area. These families need an easy place to worship with the congregation, and yet be able to make a quick exit if needed.
Mom rooms, or cry rooms, are essential for nursing moms, or for kids who are fussing during a service. It should have a rocking chair and a monitor so the mom can have a live feed of what’s happening in the main service.
While moms want to feel comfortable bringing their children to the sanctuary, they also come to church to find peace and quiet for themselves. Does your church offer places and spaces for respite?
These are just four aspects that we know moms appreciate when they come to church, though mothers aren’t the only ones who look for safety, accessibility, connection, and respite when they come to church.
What are some of the ways you make space for moms and others who come to church with children in tow?