by Rachel Schilling

Congregational life has changed dramatically during the past two years. Perhaps the most noticeable shift has been the families and young people that once were a part of the community are now much less regular in their attendance, if present at all.

Acknowledging in the midst of this change, churches within Australia have all been affected by COVID-19. This has happened in varying degrees depending on which state mandates they fall under and whether they are city, regional or country congregations.

What is safe to say, is that some things are different especially for our families. The space and time that many families used to give to the local church may have diminished. But the need to care, encourage and support parents, children and families in their faith has not.

So how do we best support and encourage them at this time?

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What do you know about the families in your church?
  • Do they know you have noticed that they are not there?
  • Has the habit of regularly coming to church been filled by something else?
  • Are families enjoying the extra space not going to church has given them?
  • Did they ever feel connected, that they belonged, and were welcome and valued in the community?
  • How do our families want to be cared for?

We know that some families don’t want to come back. Others are enjoying the time to be more involved in their children’s spiritual development. Others are cautious, careful, and fearful of crowds and possible COVID infections. So many questions!


Relationships are always the key and lead to deeper connection. We need to continue to build the bridge to be with our families.

  • Begin with prayer and let them know you care about them and pray for them. Rather than a phone call, send a text message, which may be less confronting. Ask what would they like prayer for?
  • Encourage their role as parents. Encourage the informal and ordinary conversations that happen at night in the home: for example, when tucking their children in at night, praying together, reading a psalm or a story. These questions and pondering together are precious gifts of time spent with God.
  • Who is supporting them as adults? Do they have people around them who care? Perhaps it’s practical support that busy families require, some time out, or a meal.
  • How can you listen to the hurt and brokenness of the past few years? Listen with grace and mercy to the complicated feelings they might have about worship, prayer and other people. Have you simply asked, ‘What is it that you need?’

Asking these (and many other) questions require us to re-think and move beyond our programs and our buildings. We need to establish meaningful relationships and nurturing communities.


If you would like to learn more about how to intentionally minister to all generations, please contact the team at Grow Ministries. Email us at and a member of our team will contact you.

Rachel Schilling is a member of the Grow Ministries team.

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