If you are in a Small Group, more often than not, you need to answer the question: what do we do with the kids?
Childcare can create one of the biggest logistical hurdles to overcome when starting and running a Small Group. Your group might need to ask questions like: Do we pitch in money to hire a babysitter? Do we rotate parents watching the kids? How many kids can we handle? Do I really want to host if someone’s kid may write on my wall?
Rethinking Children in Small Group
But what if we choose to change how we think about this “problem”? I believe Small Group actually provides an untapped opportunity for discipling the children in our family and church.
Think about it: we are diligent in discipling our children within the context of our family. We also receive help from the church in our child’s age-appropriate Sunday School classes. But outside of the Sunday worship service, how many opportunities do our children have to see the body of Christ at work beyond their family?
Almost every day, smaller parts of our local church meet in homes across the city for Bible study, sermon application, mutual accountability, prayer, and fellowship. This is a tremendous opportunity to let your children look in on how Christians operate and to let your church bless your child by reinforcing the truths of God’s Word, the importance of prayer, and the joy of worship.
With an understanding that every group has different sizes, space limitations, meeting frequencies, giftings, and number and age of children; here are some suggestions for how to leverage your Small Group for child discipleship.
Tip #1: Include the Kids!
I am a firm believer in bringing children into the worship service. No Sunday School can replace the benefit of your child sitting week after week under the preached Word; seeing dad, mom, and all the assembled saints worshipping God. For the same reasons, you might consider bearing with a little more distraction and inconvenience to include your children fully in the group. Plus, if your group recaps the sermon, your child can actively participate. Variations on this idea include:
- Only including older children, those who have professed faith, or those who have been baptized
- Meeting all together once per month, then separate the other weeks
- Meeting all together for a set number of weeks to do a special study
- Including children in the first portion of your group for activities, fellowship, and worship—then releasing them for one of the options below
Tip #2: Consider a Children’s Lesson
If your group decides to keep adults and kids separate, consider using at least part of that time teaching children their own lesson. The length, depth, and consistency of the lesson will vary for each group based on who you have available to lead the children. Ideas from most to least involved include:
- Full curriculum – Consider something intended for a mid-week church program.
- Devotional – Good options include those by Marty Machowski and Truth78.
- Use The Storybook Bible or utilize gospel-oriented kid’s books. Some of my favorites include:
Tip #3: Find Small Ways to Inject Discipleship
If your childcare setup is less “biblically-informed parent with well-behaved kids” and more “twenty kids in the basement with a teenage babysitter,” you may not have the capacity for a lesson. Or you may do one of the above options but want additional ideas to fill out the night. In either case, here are small ways to capitalize on the time your group gathers in order to influence your kids:
- Music – Kids (and adults) learn tremendously well when we put truth to music. In addition, having musical worship time models the kind of worship we hope that children will someday engage in with hearts that love the Lord. Some great artists producing music for children are:
- Video – if it works best to have the children watch something, here are some edifying video options:
- Bible Memory – Kids can memorize Scripture! What could be a better use of time than shaping our children’s minds into storehouses of biblical truth?
Seeing the Long-Term Benefit of Kids in Small Group
Your children already benefit because you meet in a Small Group. Growing up seeing their parents sacrificing time and convenience to regularly meet with other believers, maybe even opening their home to do so, will surely impress on them the value of redemptive community. But no matter the shape, size, or makeup of your group; consider how you might leverage this time for additional, life-shaping impact.