6 Ways to Create a Dad-Friendly Environment at Your Church
Children are a key factor in selecting a church home. But children’s programs, teaching, and activities aren’t the only aspects we take into consideration when deciding on a church. In recognition of Father’s Day, we’ve assembled a list of six ways that churches can create a dad-friendly experience for first-time visitors and members alike:
Proximity and Convenience:
- Having dedicated parking near the children’s wing can be extremely convenient for dads (and moms) dropping off their kids. A dedicated family entrance conveys that the church puts importance on children and families, and adds an important layer of security.
- An exterior canopy located over the children’s drop-off area, or having church staff positioned near this area to receive kids is a great way to keep the drop-off experience as stress-free as possible for parents. College Park Church and The Vineyard Church utilize drive-thru canopies to help transition people into their buildings in a timely way.
- The Fields Church moved their children’s area from the back of the church to the front for better access for families, and in doing so, conveys the importance they place on serving families and children and keeping them safe while at church.
Signage and Wayfinding:
- Signage and wayfinding is critical, especially for parents coming into the building for the first time. Comprehensive site signage and lighting can help first-time visiting dads get the lay of the land and help them quickly identify where to go once they arrive on site.
- Make sure to give parents a clear and efficient way of accessing children’s areas that are located off the ground floor. First Christian Church added an attractive, easy-to-find grand staircase and elevator, leading from the first floor to the children’s space upstairs so parents with kids in strollers or wheel chairs can easily access the children’s ministry area.
- Having clear wayfinding also helps dads when it comes to the timing of getting their kids where they need to be in an efficient way, while getting themselves to classrooms or worship on time.
- Having a couch or soft seating near the check-in area—especially around wintertime—assists children who need a place to sit while taking off their coats and boots or tying their shoes.
- Hangers or hooks near the classroom entry is helpful for hanging diaper bags and coats. Shelving or desk space is also handy for dads to temporarily set down drinks or other items while checking in their child.
- The proximity from the children’s area to the coffee is also important for many dads! Every minute they can shave off and get into worship to find their seats, while grabbing a hot beverage, makes a huge difference.
- After dropping off kids at the nursery or in their classrooms, parents want to know that their kids are safe. Create one or two security barriers that families must pass through before getting to the children’s areas.
- Consider utilizing access card readers for church staff and volunteers, installing locks on classroom doors that are controlled at a master location in emergency situations, and providing a person at designated entry points.
- Baby changing stations in the men’s and family restrooms are key. No one wants to change diapers on the floor or go back to the car to do so. These stations are low cost items that can go a long way in making your dads feel welcome and give them an appropriate space to care for their children’s needs. Additionally, having the changing stations located out of the way, perhaps in the largest stall, provides dads and children with the privacy they need.
- Location of restrooms is also vital. Positioning a family restroom nearby the nursery area is a huge plus. Community Christian Church–Plainfield located children and family restrooms within steps of the children’s classrooms for those impromptu bathroom breaks.
- It can take some time for kids to warm up to a new environment. Consider creating a space for dads to hang out with their kids before checking them into the nursery or classrooms. At Hamilton Hills Baptist Church Aspen Group designed interactive spaces outside the main check-in area, providing kids with impromptu activities, and dads the needed transition time to help make drop-offs go smoothly.
How many of these factors does your church space address? What are one or two steps you can take today to make your church more welcoming to dads?