In the past few decades, the typical employment pattern in families changed. While 41 percent of mothers with a working husband were considered “stay-at-home moms” in 1970, that number dropped to 20 percent by 2012.
But what hasn’t changed? Parents of both genders, whether or not they work full-time, need support as they raise their families. Moms and dads who shoulder the responsibilities of a job then return home to start their “second shift” – caring for the family. That means house-cleaning, food preparation, laundry, after school activities and homework, extended family obligations and more.
When do working parents have time to participate in their church community? Families are busier than ever and it’s critical for churches to recognize the needs in their congregation and adapt to ensure parents, full-time workers or not, are finding encouragement and peace at their community church.
Offer a Range of Small Group Meeting Times
Traditionally many study groups geared towards mothers are held during weekday mornings. This time may fit the schedule of a stay-at-home mom, but working mothers find it impossible to attend.
If a family already attends church during the week, schedule small groups for parents at the same time. For example, families already dropping off children to programs like youth group or Awana on Wednesday nights may find that a corresponding Bible study for parents fits their schedule. Sunday morning before church could draw attendees as well.
Start a Lunch Group
Everyone needs a lunch break. Working fathers and mothers could attend a small group meet-up during their lunch hour, especially if the church is located in a populated city region. You could also organize small groups by work area, so participants who all work in one neighborhood get the opportunity to gather during the week to connect and encourage each other. It’s also a great outreach opportunity – your small group members can invite their co-workers!
Offer Babysitting and Nursery Care
Due to the investment working parents are already spending on childcare during the week, it might be difficult to encourage adults to attend an event without their children if they have to spend money on a babysitter. Work to offer free or low-cost babysitting for children of all ages to remove one of the obstacles for attending helpful outreach events – it’s a plus for all parents!
Provide Ministry Opportunities
It’s not just about fitting church events into the busy schedule of dual-career homes – it’s about giving every member of the family opportunities to minister to others as well. The more you hold events in the evenings or on the weekends, the more chances the 9 to 5 workers gain to serve others. For example, holding Vacation Bible School at night gives working moms and dads a chance to participate.
Come Alongside Your Flock
Discipleship shouldn’t stall and ministry shouldn’t be neglected just because busy working parents are just that – busy and working. As a church leader, how could you flexibly adapt to meet the needs of all parents in your congregation?