When I was in the city during school holidays, our children’s numbers increased, which was the exact opposite of what appears to happen in our suburban churches. School holiday’s seem to see our suburban churches empty themselves of children.
Even those families that consistently turn up week after week, will “disappear” over the school holiday’s. Some will say, that it’s because the family needs a rest from the structure of the term, other’s that there are no Sunday School so therefore there is “Nothing for the kid’s”. Some will travel, physically being absent, while some move into the home of their non-custodial parent.
Regardless of the reason, modern Australian families function differently during the term break, than they do during the term, but church does NOT. It continues in the same format, except that it might drop Sunday School if they still operate traditionally. Unless you have a congregation of 20, 30 or 50 year olds, almost everyone else will be experiencing a term timetable.
So we can accept that for 12 weeks of the year that our churches will be child free, or we can see if some changes might result in a greater engagement with the church and community families.
Depending on what you discover, by asking around or a brief survey of your families, will determine what strategies you might like to try.
For example if families are not attending Sunday morning services due to the need for a “lay in” or the need for some “family time”, you might want to change the times and style of your services during the holidays. Try a Saturday evening or a Sunday lunch or late Sunday afternoon service. You could make this an Intergenerational Service and use such resources as http://seedstuff.blogspot.com/2018/09/ or ENGAGE https://ctm.uca.edu.au/children-and-families/category/resources/reading/
Or you could try Messy Church during school holiday’s only http://messychurchaustralia.com.au
If you have an ageing congregation, don’t underestimate the importance of Grandparents in guiding their grandchildren to faith, so giving them some options to involve their grandchildren, could have many benefits.
If your families use this time to travel, then it might be the time to strengthen family faith formation tools so that families include worship moments into their holiday routine. You might suggest the https://www.illustratedchildrensministry.com/families/#more-12 for creative families or
https://www.seedsfamilyworship.com for those who are musical
Though some families may visit other congregations as part of their holiday’s, circumstantial evidence seems to suggest that families are unsure of attending different congregations, because of the multiplicity of expectations and programs that are available.
Are you ready to encourage such random, holiday makers into your service. Do you need information sheets or words of welcome, more obvious or welcoming worship spaces. Don’t be the congregation in this blog post https://refocusministry.org/2018/09/18/please-enjoy-the-remainder-of-the-service-in-our-lobby/
Does your congregation, change it’s services or times to reflect the term times?
Does it do something creative to involve families during the school holidays?
Share with us