Helping couples to date their spouse is excellent marriage advice. But it often falls under the easier said than done side of the to do list.
When you’re elbow deep in diapers, and bills, hiring a babysitter doesn’t even make the list of possibility. In the same way, providing childcare is pretty far down the priority list when it comes to planning a marriage event.
This lack of urgency does not come from apathy. Instead, it comes from the stress and difficulty we know will follow trying to fulfill required coverage. Church leaders know couples need help with childcare, we just aren’t always prepared to provide a solution.
The reality is that your go-to leaders for childcare are those who will be attending your event. So either you don’t offer childcare and your event attendance suffers, or your offer childcare and your event attendance suffers.
Our church has tackled this catch-22 in a few ways that you may find helpful.
1. Contact Local Schools
We’ve had great success with using our local high school for childcare. Many clubs—such as the National Honor Society, DECA and Key Club—require service hours for their teens. The high school students also provided the evening’s “entertainment” as part of their service commitment.
With advanced notice, the school faculty sponsors also came to serve as the adults in the room because we were providing the opportunity for so many of their kids to complete hours.
2. Contact Local Babysitting Sites
If you don’t want to go for the volunteer route and you have room in your budget, many wonderful websites are available that specialize in finding and hiring childcare. Here’s a few resources:
3. Contact Local Civic Groups
We have offered to provide craft activities at local events in exchange for local civic groups providing childcare out our date nights. Reach out to someone at your local Rotary Club, Kiwanis International, or Chamber of Commerce to see if they’d be interested in helping out.
4. Contact Neighboring Churches
Swap childcare with other churches for your events. This is a wonderful opportunity to begin viewing neighboring churches as co-workers instead of competition. Your volunteers can provide childcare at their event in exchange for their volunteers covering yours.
While you’re at it extend the invitation to attend date night to their congregation and promote their next marriage event at your event. This has proven to be a win-win partnership.
5. Contact Local Colleges or Universities
Most local colleges and universities require community service for athletes or those on scholarship.
For example, my niece is a member of her college cross country team, each member of the team is required to serve at least eight hours a month in the community.
This is also a great way to get college kids onto your church campus.By extending the opportunity to serve into the community it has helped to build bridges and partnerships for other events and has made the church “a first call” when community events are being planned.
Why to Look Outside the Church For Help
Sometimes the best thing we can do for the marriages in your church is to go outside of our church for help. We came to this conclusion after we missed something big on our team.
The first three years of our marriage ministry, a couple on our leadership team took on the responsibility for recruiting and covering childcare for our marriage events. This meant that often they missed events to take care of the areas we were unable to cover. They were part of our team and they seemed solid. Because of them, our kids had a safe place while their parents relaxed and focused on their marriage.
Unfortunately, earlier this year our “go-to couple” finalized their divorce.
While their ministry roles did not cause the collapse of the marriage, it did nothing to help it. We were so focused on the needs of those in our church, we missed the needs of our team. The last-minute panic to cover childcare should never keep couples in your congregation or on your team from attending an event designed to help them.
Where does your church go to for childcare help?
Heather has been serving in ministry at Rolling Plains Church for over a decade, including the last two years as the Director of Family Ministries. Although her job titles have changed, marriage ministry has always been a vital component of her job description. She and her husband, Rob, have been married 17 years and have three daughters together.