Church Childcare Programs: Income Generators or Missional Opportunity?

0
Share:

Nursery schools and childcare programs are more to churches than a source of rental income. Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says they offer important missional opportunities as well. He outlines four simple strategies for engaging children and families.


Many congregations have daycare centers, preschools, nursery schools, or after-school programs. Some see the revenue-generating possibility of these programs as their primary advantage, but they offer important missional opportunities as well. What are some ways congregations can engage families in their childcare programs?

1. Greeters

At least once a week, have a team of greeters provide coffee for the parents dropping off or picking up children. Many parents will appreciate a good cup of coffee or tea because they will not have time to stop someplace else to get it. You might even occasionally have your pastor or church staff members join the greeting team. Over time, these greeters will learn the names of the children and their parents and become a familiar, welcoming presence. As the initial point of contact, they can be important ambassadors between the church and families.

2. Invitations

Look for fun, family-friendly events on your church calendar, such as a fall festival, trunk-or-treat, block party, or carol sing. These types of low-barrier, intergenerational events are great opportunities for inviting your childcare families. Make sure some of the greeters who are already known to the families will be on hand. Seeing a familiar face will help the children and their parents feel more comfortable and at home. There is no reason to be afraid of extending these invitations. It is a matter of being a good host. And it lets the families know you truly welcome their participation in what the congregation does.

3. Conversations

The pastor and/or other mature members of the faith community might set aside time when parents or others connected with your childcare families can drop by and talk. Like anyone else, they may be struggling or experiencing life crises. And even if they do not attend church or have no religious affiliation, they may still have faith questions or just need a listening ear. Set aside some time, perhaps two days a week, for people to just drop by and talk. Typically, this would happen right after or right before picking up a child. The goal is simply to be available for individuals who may just need to talk.

4. Adopt a child

Ask members of your congregation to “adopt” a child or two from the childcare program. At Thanksgiving or other holidays, these members could send the child an appropriate greeting card or a parentally approved treat as a way of letting the child and their family know the church is praying and thinking about them. Certainly, the ability to adopt all the children hinges on the size of your congregation and childcare program. But even for smaller congregations, this can be a cost-effective way of helping the children feel more connected to the congregation.

I often hear congregations lamenting the lack of connection between their nursery school — or other children’s programs — and the church. There are missional opportunities like greeting, inviting, setting aside time, and adopting children that can create a closer connection. The congregation has to be willing to invest the time and energy to make these things happen. These connections are unlikely to happen merely by accident. It’s up to us to initiate appropriate ways of building relationships.


Related Resources

Share.

About Author

Rev. Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr.

F. Douglas Powe, Jr., is director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership and holds the James C. Logan Chair in Evangelism (an E. Stanley Jones Professorship) at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.


Adult Education Studies from the Wesley Ministry NetworkAdult Education Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

The Wesley Ministry Network brings the best of contemporary Christian scholarship to your congregation’s small groups and adult Bible studies.These video-based group study courses encourage the energetic discussion and personal reflection that are keys to a life of informed discipleship. Courses are designed for use in small groups in a wide range of denominations, but they are also appropriate for individuals seeking self-study opportunities. Learn more now.

Ecumenical studies: Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes SenseJourney through the PsalmsDevotion to Jesus: The Divinity of Christ in Earliest ChristianitySerious Answers to Hard QuestionsReligion and Science: Pathways to TruthIn God’s TimeA Life Worthy of the GospelWomen Speak of God
United Methodist studies: Methodist Identity — Part 1: Our Story; Part 2: Our BeliefsWesleyan Studies Project — Series I: Methodist History; Series II: Methodist Doctrine; Series III: Methodist Evangelism