We need the church to come alongside us and help us, and we need to be able to attend a worship service to get ourselves filled.
Many new parents start coming to church once they have kids, even if they haven't been to church in a while, because it suddenly hits you when you have kids that this is the time to shape your kids' foundation and get your life right with the Lord, because you need Him when you're a parent! So how can churches reach new parents, and minister to them? Here are a few things I think the church can do:
1. Make sure your nursery is meticulously clean, safe, and staffed with loving volunteers. We new mamas are crazy about germs. Our nurseries are meticulously cleaned and filled with fun, age appropriate toys for babies. There are safety policies and procedures that I can count on to protect my baby. I know that the church can get ahold of me if my baby is upset or needs me. And I know that my baby will be loved and well cared for. Those are all things new mamas care about. I LOVE the feeling of walking into the nursery and hearing the nursery volunteers excited to see my baby and cuddle him and play with him. He loves going in the nursery. New mamas can go to the worship service and enjoy an hour and a half to themselves while their babies are enjoying being in the nursery.
2. A Meaningful Baby Dedication. Our Baby D is an amazing experience, and I cannot say enough how special it is to be a part of a church that gives parents the opportunity to be a part of this experience. We participated in Baby D last October, and loved being able to commit to the Lord that we would raise our baby to know the Lord and would live out the Gospel as parents. This is the first step for churches partnering with parents as spiritual leaders.
3. Give new moms a place of community. Our church focuses a lot on community in small groups. I'm a part of a couples small group with my husband and I lead a new moms small group. I love getting together with other young moms to pray, encourage each other, and grow in our faith together. New mamas especially need community with other people in the same stage of life (or further down the road).
4. Don't make church hard for us. Being a new mom is hard. One thing I love about our church is that the nursery has thought of everything. You forget to label your diaper bag? They have tags. You forgot a snack? They serve Cheerios. You need to nurse your baby? They have pagers to get ahold of you, and a nursing moms room where you can stream the service. It's hard enough being a new mom. Getting your baby to church shouldn't be stressful. The check-in and check-out process are streamlined and easy.
When babies can learn that people in the nursery love them and care for them, you lay the foundation for them that church is a good and loving place, and that God is a good and loving Father. That lays the foundation in their lives to go to the preschool ministry, where they learn to worship and learn the Gospel, and that lays a foundation for them to love church in the elementary ministry and the youth ministry. It all starts with babies having a safe and loving experience in the nursery. I love that my baby loves coming to church, and I love having a church where my baby can grow up knowing he is loved.