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5 Solutions to Providing Childcare at Your Next Marriage Event

5 Solutions to Providing Childcare at Your Next Marriage Event

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?

Take Our 2019 Marriage Ministry Annual Survey

Take Our 2019 Marriage Ministry Annual Survey

Married People exists to serve church leaders like you. All of the resources and content we create is with you—and the couples you reach—in mind. Everything we do is built around helping churches help marriages.

That’s why we value the input of church leaders like you. We want our resources and content to better serve you and your congregation. Our hope is that we can provide something that can help any church create an amazing marriage ministry.

To do that, we need to hear from you. How are we doing? What could we do better? How can we best continue to help you and churches like yours?

Who Are You?

For the first-time ever, we have separate surveys for churches who use our resources and those who don’t. So you can participate regardless of if you’re a long-time partner or if you’re hearing about us for the first time.

Both surveys are short and easy to fill out. And if you complete either one before the end of October 2019, you’ll be entered to win one of six $25 Amazon gift cards!

 

Take a Survey

The Most Important Thing Your Church Can Do All Year

The Most Important Thing Your Church Can Do All Year

For several years, Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs has offered regular “respite” events for families of children with special needs. Katie Garvert has led this ministry with the mindset that special needs ministry is a part of a holistic family ministry.

As the special needs ministry grew, the church added the respite piece of programming. The purpose of the respite was not only to provide parents a break, but to provide spouses the opportunity to reconnect through time together alone.

Encouraging Couples to Date

About a year ago, Katie noticed that mothers who once showed up at respite check-in with their husbands were arriving without them. Instead of enjoying a date night, parents were doing their own thing, like running errands, while their children were in the church’s care.

As a mother herself, Katie recognized the value of a peaceful shopping trip, but was concerned parents weren’t taking the opportunity to refuel their marriage. Even some of those couples who did go on a date night were returning to pick up their kids more sad or tense than before.

Fresh off these observations, Katie felt burdened to work more proactively to help the marriage inside the family with special needs. Katie wanted to give these parents something that would keep them focused on each other—a tool that would facilitate constructive and encouraging conversation.

To that end, Woodmen Valley Chapel started using the Married People Date Nights.

Married People Date Nights

As parents dropped off their children, they received a 8.5 x 11 printed document with step-by-step date instructions. They were told to spend the evening following the instructions together.

Katie said the response was amazing. Couples were refreshed. Their enthusiasm rejuvenated the church’s approach to helping marriages. Parents were going on dates instead of just running independent errands. Spouses were arriving at pick-up obviously happy and refreshed.

Katie said, “We realized these parents had forgotten how to connect. They were too tired and overwhelmed to plan a date for themselves. They didn’t even know what to talk about aside from managing life details, usually related to the complex needs of their children. Many of these spouses had forgotten how to laugh.

Among many things, these date nights gave our couples fun conversation starters. For the first time, husbands and wives were focused on each other. We saw this in their eyes and attitude when they arrived to pick up their children. I honestly had no idea that adding this simple tool would have such a huge impact on the families and on our entire ministry.”

A Resource For Every Couple

It stands to reason that parents of children with special needs may carry a heavier burden than most parents. However, all married couples know what it’s like to be too busy and overly stressed.

Every couple—both inside and outside of your church—could benefit from connecting in new and creative ways. All marriages benefit from making memories that will enhance their relationship. Going out on a great date is just one way to do that.

Not only that, but providing these dates is something every church leader can do, too.

Every year, church leaders like you have taken these date night resources and packaged them in fun and creative ways. You can see some examples of how on this blog post or in our private Facebook group. This is the easiest step you can take to start improving marriages at your church.

This post was adapted from the book, Married People, How Your Church Can Build Marriages That Last, by Ted Lowe and Doug Fields.

Customizing Date Nights for Couples

Customizing Date Nights for Couples

One of the most important resources Married People provides for churches is date nights. That’s because dating is important in every marriage. But most couples are too busy to find time to date. So they slowly grow disconnected.

But your church can help couples to date more and stay connected. Couples just need encouragement and a little push to go on dates. Your church has the relational equity to make that happen. And Married People can help.

Every year, we create Date Nights that your church can give to couples in your church and community. Many of our church partners take this content to the next level by customizing the date nights. Want to know how you can do the same?

1. Custom Packaging

The first step to customizing a date night is the packaging. Packaging makes the date look good and easy to grab and go. Here are some creative ideas that some churches have used in the past.

  • Brown paper bags
  • Gift bags
  • Chinese takeout containers
  • Popcorn bags
  • Ziplock baggies

This can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like. And you can get volunteers to help you assemble all of these bags when it comes time to share.

2. Added Goodies

Our date nights provide the instructions for everything the couples need to do for a fun date night. But your church can add a personal touch by filling the date bags with other fun stuff.

These items can be on theme with the date. Or they could just be fun, generic things any couple would enjoy. Here are some ideas for what you can add.

  • Candies—Hershey kisses are always a good bet
  • Stress balls
  • Bubbles
  • Candles
  • Massage oil
  • Popcorn bags

Obviously, budget is always an issue—but when you buy these items in bulk it shouldn’t cost you too much to make the date night special. A few hundred dollars will get you quite a bit.

3. Local Discounts

Part of every date night is going out—usually to a restaurant, a movie, or local activity. This helps couples connect in an environment away from all the stresses at home. We make suggestions, but we don’t know your community as well as you do.

That’s why providing discounts to local places can be such a huge benefit. Not only does it lower the cost barrier to dating, but it also connects your church to the local community. Here are some local places that you can contact about potential discounts.

  • Restaurants—see about getting a percent off the bill or a free appetizer
  • Movie or performance theater
  • Fun activities like putt putt golf or an escape the room
  • Art museum or city zoo
  • Upcoming events or festivals

You could also provide a list or map of local places you recommend couples check out on their dates. Coming up with fresh ideas can sometimes be a barrier that keeps couples from dating.

4. Provide Childcare

What’s the biggest thing that keeps married couples from dating? Finding a babysitter.

Your church can eliminate that excuse by providing childcare during date nights. This isn’t always easy or feasible to pull off. But it’s something great to shoot for.

If you can’t afford to hire people for childcare, consider bringing in ministry volunteers, especially some of the older students from your youth group. You can usually convince students to babysit by bribing them with free pizza.

In fact, why not try to plan a couples’ date night on the same night as an existing children’s ministry event. You’ll already have programing in place for the kids.

Want More Date Nights?

How does your church customize date nights?

Meet Your OS: Misty Phillips

Meet Your OS: Misty Phillips

Perhaps the best part of being a Married People church partner is having access to an Orange Specialist. What’s an Orange Specialist? They’re real-life people who helps you to use the resources that you get as a part of your partnership.

An Orange Specialist (or OS for short) is more than just a customer service representative—they’re part leadership trainer, encourager, coach, community builder, and technical support. An OS is what makes Married People a partnership, and not just a product.

As a Married People church partner, your Orange Specialist is Misty Phillips. And since she does so much work behind the scenes, we thought we’d introduce you to Misty. Let’s get to know her and how she can help your church do marriage ministry better.

What’s your ministry background?

I served in preschool and elementary ministry for over 25 years. In that capacity, I oversaw birth through sixth grade, and led more than 150 volunteers.

What is your favorite part of being an Orange Specialist?

Connecting with leaders to help them WIN as they do strategic ministry to kids and families. And listening to stories of everything that God is doing in local churches of all sizes.

What do you wish churches knew about Married People?

Married People has developed a key strategy for your church to be intentional about supporting marriages. This is a year-long strategy, not just a one-time thing. We help leaders practically engage in creative experiences with major impact.

What is your role as the Married People OS?

You might have questions, or need assistance with your strategy of reaching marriages in your church. As the Married People OS, I’m here to help and answer all of your questions.

If you’d like to walk through all the great content in the Married People strategy, or have any questions before purchasing, please reach out!

Why do you think churches should pour into marriages?

I believe investing in marriages at your church is one of the best choices your team can make.  Sometimes, we forget that ministry to families includes investing in marriages. Churches who are intentional about helping pour into marriages are a smart bunch!

Are you married?

Yes! I’m in my fortieth year of learning how to do life with my husband. We’re both still learning in each phase of our lives. Together, we raised four amazing kids and now share in the joy of eight grandchildren.

Together, my husband and I have served in children’s and family ministry. Together, we’ve experienced gains and losses. We’ve been so grateful as a couple to have life experiences around other couples learning what marriage really means.

What are your three must read ministry books?

  1. Think Orange by Reggie Joiner
  2. Visioneering by Andy Stanley
  3. 7 Principles of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones

Do you have any skills that most people don’t know about?

I was a theatre major. And I can play piano by ear.

If you could be anywhere other than here, where would you be?

At a Caribbean beach with family, going paddle boarding.

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?

Singer songwriter. Or a flight attendant. (Ha! Maybe it was a singing flight attendant.)

How do you want people to remember you?

Family and fun mattered. Serving others was the best. God shined.

What’s goal would you like to accomplish in the next year?

More adventure. Connect leaders together. Grow friends.

How can people get in touch with you?

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