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Why I Drove Past 50 Restaurants and Didn't Stop

I had family in town this past week. We had a wonderful time fishing, eating out and going to see Brian Regan perform (he's one of my favorite standup comedians).

Friday night, we drove over 70 miles to eat at a specific restaurant.

I must have passed at least 50 or more restaurants on the way to where we would be eating.

Why would I do that? I'm sure the food was excellent at many of the restaurants we drove by.

But for us, that night it was about the experience and making memories as a family.

The restaurant we drove to is called the Rattlesnake Saloon. The food is average, but we didn't go there just for the food. We went there because they offer a fun experience. The restaurant is located in a cave under a cliff. They drive you down to the restaurant by truck. Here are a few pictures. We made some good memories that night.

Here's where this translates into children and family ministry. Families are looking for opportunities to make spiritual memories. They will drive by 50 churches to be a part of a church that creates experiences for families.

In a previous post, I shared that while Toys R' Us went out of business, there is another toy store that is thriving and continues to grow. It's called Build-a-Bear and they offer families the opportunity to make great memories as they design and build a bear together. Here's the article I wrote about this.

If you want to attract families to your church, then start thinking of ways you can give them the opportunity to make memories together. Here are a few examples.

Family Worship Experiences. Create a worship experience that incorporates kids and their parents. An example of this is the Christmas Family Experience that I and my team created. It gives families the opportunity to celebrate Christmas together. When we offered this experience, we had over 4,000 kids and parents show up. It is available at this link.

Making things together. Example. Put blank, wooden Christmas ornaments on tables along with items families can use to decorate them. Markers. Glitter. Stickers.

Family events like Father-son campouts. Mother-daughter tea events. Daddy-daughter dances. Family camps. VBS family nights.

Serving together. Dismiss service early and have assembly lines set up where families can help put together packets for missionaries and families in countries that are in need of help. The first time we did this we were wondering how people would respond? Would they not show up? Would they skip the assembly lines and head home?

The opposite happened. Attendance spiked up that weekend as families were eager to make a spiritual memory together.

Milestones. These are some of the best opportunities you have to help families make spiritual memories. Here is more information about Milestones and how it will help you make a big impact with families.

This should not be about churches competing for the attention of children and families. And by the way, families are comparing their experience not just to other churches. They are comparing their experience with you to Target, Disney stores, restaurants and places that they frequent.

Think about this today. How can you improve the experiences for families that you are currently offering?

You start offering great experiences for families and they will drive by 50 other churches to get to yours. They will stand in line to get into your event. They will bring their friends, neighbors and other family members.

One final thought. We drove over 70 miles not primarily for the food, but for the experience. The physical space where the restaurant is located plays a big part in the experience.

This children'salso translates into children's ministry. Families are looking for a church that believes in the importance of children ministry. One way you can show them that you are committed to children's ministry is the environment you have for children. Facilities are not everything, but they do make a statement that you are highly invested in reaching and discipling the next generation. Do the best you can to built great kid's spaces and theme it out.

If you are ever in North Alabama, check out the Rattlesnake saloon and restaurant. It will inspire you to create a place where families will drive past other churches to get to yours.


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