Churches that are "growing young" instead of growing old are the ones that look after parents, according to a Fuller Theological Seminary professor who specializes in family ministry.
Kara Powell, who also serves as executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute, told those gathered at the Orange Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday that churches thrive when they make an extra effort to help parents.
Powell explained that she and other researchers at the Fuller Youth Institute examined the traits of churches in the United States that were neither declining in numbers nor seeing a graying of their congregation.
"We looked for hundreds of churches around the country that aren't getting older and getting smaller, instead they're growing and their engaging young people or they are what we call churches that are 'growing young,'" said Powell.
"And one of our early surprises in our four years of research was how important it was for parents to be prioritized in these churches. That's one of the things that set these churches apart from a typical church that was aging and/or shrinking."
"When these churches gave a disproportionate amount of energy and emphasis and empathy to parents, the church thrived. The church flourished."
Powell called on attendees to make sure that their congregations make sure that they are not simply asking parents to help the church, but that the church is helping parents.
"Does your church help parents win or does it help parents help your church win?" Powell asked. "Is your church about what's best for parents or is it about getting parents to do what you think is best for you as a church?"