Lots of families struggle to attend church because Sunday mornings become filled with taking children to sporting activities, going shopping and other regular activities. These families are never going to join you at 10:30am and worse still, those children who already attend your church may well stop attending if they join a sporting activity that meets on a Sunday morning.
In order to connect with these families perhaps we need to consider a new service at a new time that is carefully designed to meet the specific needs of these families.
‘Breakfast Church’ is one such suggestion: come to church in your sports kit, share breakfast and a participatory act of worship together and be sent out into the rest of your day as Christ’s ambassadors to all the places you go.
Breakfast Church could easily be a monthly service held as part of your regular pattern of worship.
One observation is that churches in a middle class suburban context tend to run with the early morning breakfast time slot as families here are off shopping or to sporting activities later in the morning/day. By contrast churches in an outer estate context tend to adapt the model and run during the early afternoon as ‘picnic church’ because the Sunday routine for families here starts later.
The key is to do your research, know your community and provide something at a time that is relevant for those you are seeking to invite.
Questions to consider:
• What do the families who are not part of your congregation do on a Sunday?
Where are they – what things are already a fixture in their regular Sunday activities?
What are the barriers to these people attending church if they wanted to?
• What about the families that are connected to your church. What are their priorities and what are the challenges that they face as a family on Sundays?
• What is your desire in exploring ‘Breakfast Church’? Do you want to start a Fresh Expression, add a new service format to the menu of worship styles you currently offer, provide a bridge into ‘normal church’, engage with a new section of your community who you wouldn’t otherwise connect with.
Values and Programme
• Warm and relaxed welcome with food and refreshments
• Make sure people know that they can come in their sports kit
• Seating around tables that are larger than ‘1 family’ – so that people have the opportunity to engage with those beyond their family grouping
• A rolling opening activity related to the theme that is too hard for the children to do on their own. This encourages participation rather than ‘watch the kids’. A good idea can be to engage the dads with construction based activities or ones with a low degree of competition – “look how tall our one is..!!”
Where possible the output of this activity can be used within the short interactive talk or the prayer response
• Sung worship: not action songs. Well known hymns or easy to pick up worship songs. Songs that adults remember from when they were young can also work well
• Bible reading – this can be done well by all reading together from a screen as this makes bible reading a participatory activity
• Short interactive talk that teaches adults while engaging children
• Prayer response
• Less than an hour in total – make sure you do your research and find out the common time that you need to finish by in order to allow people to get to the next activity in their day. Regularly review this by talking to the congregation – “do we need to finish 5 mins earlier to make next part of your day less stressful?”
• Always publish your finishing time and stick to it. If the next thing in peoples days is getting the children to a sports club, then they need to know in advance that they will be able to get them there on time. Finishing promptly when you have said you will ensures that people don’t have to sneak out early and feel embarrassed about doing so.
• No ‘shusshing’ or enforced participation – invite people to participate don’t ‘tell’
• End by sending people out into the rest of their day to be Christ’s ambassadors wherever they go.