If you’re looking to make your parish more family-friendly, the next best thing is not free parenting classes or Dave Ramsey money management classes. It’s committing to child care. That’s it.

The number one thing stopping young families from becoming more involved in your parish is not that young people are godless heathens or shallow goof-offs who don’t love Jesus. It’s simply that every time you offer an event or prayer experience, parents have to decide: Can we budget for 1-4 hours of childcare to deepen our spiritual lives and our commitment to our local church? So often the answer is, “No, we can’t.” Over time, those young fathers and mothers drift out of parish life – all for want of a little childcare.

In this new year, now is the time to take a look at your calendar of key events and ask yourself, “What would happen if we offered childcare at these events?” It may be easier than you think. Child-proofing one room in your parish, staffing it with skilled childcare volunteers, and letting parents know they can drop their kids off for 15 minutes while they go to confession isn’t really all that difficult. And the benefits have eternal consequences.

What’s great about offering childcare in your parish is that after the first year, it becomes a self-perpetuating ministry. As children grow, parents are freed up to volunteer as part of the ministry. Their gratitude will turn into action and commitment – if you’re willing to put in the hard work on the front end! Committing to child care now will pay huge dividends later.