Why Churches Fail to Reach Young Families

Why are churches falling to reach young families? Chances are last Sunday your church did not have a new, young family attend for the first time.

  • It is probably not because you didn’t pray.
  • It is probably not because didn’t have appealing music.
  • It is probably not because there are no young families within a reasonable distance from your church.

The reason most churches didn’t have new young families is because they didn’t aim.

Instead, they hoped.  Hoping is not the same as aiming.arrows and missed target

Most churches in North America have inherited a legacy of practices and programs, that in this new decade are anti-new family.  This is not on purpose, it just happens. They live with hand-me-down schedules, hand-me-down outreach techniques, and most of all, hand-me-down strategies that have not been adjusted over the years.

Mind you, I am not talking of doctrinal or theological adjustments. I am speaking of cultural norms and cultural ways of doing things that have nothing to do with the Bible, but everything to do with aiming at young families.  Folks,….. things have changed since the architects of our churches created their systems. Just as they (in many cases our heroes), created new and exciting ministries and programs, we too can be led of God to create new and effective ministries that reach people in our current era.

Let me give you some facts and figures that demonstrate we live in a new and changing world, and then let me give you some ideas to help you adjust your strategies and AIM at reaching new, young families.

  • A local school district recently released a report showing that 75% of all the kids in the district lived in some sort of blended family, non-nuclear family situation (step-parents, step-siblings, cohabiting, and divorce).  That, of course, means only 25% live with a married mom and dad and biological siblings. Research shows, children who live in a blended family are three times more likely to need psychological counseling or psychiatric care than other children. Has your church adjusted for this?
  • Nearly fifty percent of children are raised in families headed by a mother who is the sole or primary wage earner. This has quadrupled since 1960, when most of our mentors were developing programs and ministry models. Has your church made any adjustments for this?
  • Children from broken homes are far more likely to have lower grades and need psychological counseling. Again, children who live in a blended family are three times more likely to need psychological counseling or psychiatric care than other children. Has your ministry made any attempts to help in these areas?
  • Close to 90% of single-parent families are headed by women. That means the ladies are the leaders in a huge percentage of the families that we are trying to reach. Has your church made any adjustments for this?
  • Dual income families have almost tripled since 1960. Parents working two jobs (moonlighting) are also at an all time high. This has had a dramatic effect on discretionary “family time”. Evenings for family dinners, discussions and homework have been consumed with wage earning. Evening church attendance on Sundays and at midweek services are at an all-time low. Has your church made any adjustments for the working families?
  • Millennials (birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s) are unique in so many ways that churches must adjust for.  They have never not known computers, email, and online access. Their primary Bible is often digital. Their preferred mode of communication is texting or some form of social media messaging, using the phone in their pocket. All of these are areas in which the local church must make adjustments.

So here are some areas where we can adjust our methods, and thus increase the effectiveness of our ministry. In other words, here is how we can AIM at young families and not just hope they show up. All of these are covered in great detail in our online training course called –Reaching Young Families Through the Local Church

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Looking at new ideas can often be exciting and bring great hope; however, I have learned that implementing ideas can be a long and difficult undertaking. One of the best things to help me get things accomplished is when I have a set of step-by-step instructions or someone acting as a guide or coach. Great ideas can turn into great progress when properly implemented.

ReachKeep’s goal is to help creating flourishing churches. Our online training is unique, in that is comes from a proven and working local church model. A simple example is our number one product called Facebook for Pastors. It has been a help to thousands of church leaders around the globe. Let’s take advantage of resources like these and aim our efforts with passion!

The bottom line is YOU CAN reach young families through your local church.

You just need to make sure you take time to properly AIM!


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  • Brian

    I get it, these are all valid points and in some ways the church needs to pay attention and evolve. Yet I’m honestly still struggling with what should be the draw and the cement that keeps people or as stated young families in the pews? I’m not part of any think tank and am most definitely not skilled to answer such difficult questions about Why Churches Fail to Reach Young Families, but something inside me believes that the problem isn’t the churches. Despite the increased need, Young Families just don’t want Jesus, they want all the bells and whistles that go along with a theme park/country club church routine on Sunday but following Jesus isn’t as exciting (because they never tried) as other activities they can put their in to. The main reason why young people don’t come to church:…. they do not value it….. they do not value a growing relationship with Christ through the local church.

    • Brian, Thanks for the feedback. You raise a point that is commonly held, that is young families don’t value a growing relationship thru the church. This is very true. No one values what they have yet come to value. The answer is in the flip side. Do we value them? A local church should love and value an unsaved/unchurch young family as much as possible. That is where some of the techniques come in. It is through our love and concern for their needs, kids, unique situations etc… that we able to have the open door for evangelism. Once they are born again, then they begin to have new values.

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