As I wrote, there are many life-events where the church has the opportunity to step in and capture the attention of young people.
The first life-event I am going to tackle is pregnancy/birth. Not because it’s the first life-event for a young adult and not because it’s the most important. I’m writing about it first because it’s the most fresh in my mind.
My son, Wesley, was born on January 11, 2012. He was one week late and gave us, his organized-planner parents, plenty of time to have the nursery ready, freezer stocked with food, and a game-plan on how to manage visitors. We told our church to let us have the first week alone as a family and then we would welcome visitors. We scheduled a small gathering for friends and family when Wesley was about 2.5 weeks old, assuming that would appease visitors wanting to stop by and see our little man.
Little did we know our church would have no idea how to respond to us as new parents. I do not fault the church but hope that we can all learn and use the birth of a child as an opportunity to love a young family.
Here are a list of things that I found/would have found helpful in the first few weeks following the birth of our son:
- Visit from the pastor, laity, or other member of the church to the hospital to pray for us as a new family
- Flowers, fruit, or candy delivered to our home when we returned from the hospital
- Meals delivered, especially the first few days after we arrived home from the hospital
- A house keeper/cleaning crew/laundry services following Wesley’s birth
- Notes or cards sent to the home expressing prayers and kind words of congratulations
Bringing meals to a family can be an easy way for churches to show love and grace to a family following the birth of a child (or after a hospital stay, family trauma, etc.) I argue that this can be one of the best ways of loving a family with a new baby, provided the meals are dropped off quickly in disposable containers.
As I was struggling with new motherhood, I read this article about 100 things you can do for a new mom. I think every church needs a copy of this article and a team of folks ready to act once they hear of a family with a new baby. These are very practical helps anyone can do, regardless of the relationship with the family. Friends should come over and do laundry, wash dishes, and comfort new parents.
Acquaintances and members of the body of Christ often need some suggestions of non-intrusive but very helpful things to do for new parents.
- Drop off food – make sure you do not stay, pay attention to food allergies, and have everything in disposable containers so mom and dad don’t need to worry about returning anything
- Put together a package of high protein snacks mama can eat in the middle of the night.
- Create a mentor program that begins when pregnancy is announced. Pair new moms and dads with wise mentors who can guide them through pregnancy and new parenthood.
- Organize people to babysit older siblings for a night so parents can focus on new baby
- Offer to run errands for parents or drive mom or dad on errands and stay in the car with baby while he/she shops
- Encourage new parents on the things they are doing well – don’t mention how early your kids slept through the night – just make sure parents know life will get better or easier and it is all worth it
- Send occasional notes of encouragement and prayer to parents
- Coordinate one point person who can contact mom and dad to communicate what needs they have with the rest of the church, rather than overwhelming them with numerous people contacting them.
Any of these items can be from the church as a whole, a specific committee, group or class, or individuals as representatives of the church. Whatever is done, as with any other point of evangelism, it should be done with intentionality and purpose.
What does your church or ministry do when a new baby is born into the community? If you’ve had a child, what did you find most helpful?