This question was asked on a message board on Christianity Online (a section of American Online): "Our church is considering hiring someone to provide child care every weeknight for our small groups, perhaps paying fifteen to twenty dollars a night. Do you think this will work?"
Child care is one of the biggest difficulties in leading a small group, and one for which there are no simplistic answers. A couple of the responses on the message board seem helpful.
One person said he would discourage hiring a babysitter. His church had tried something similar with the church's womens groups, and they needed two caregivers for the nursery-age children and one other for elementary-age children. Instead, he suggests, encourage members of the groups to put their heads together to find creative solutions. Here are just a few options.
- Parents pay for babysitting in their own homes. (Perhaps several parents who live nearby can go together.)
- Group members pool together for a babysitter at another home.
- Members rotate child care responsibilities on a weekly basis.
- Children are part of the group. (This has worked in a number of churches, but it takes lots of planning and patience.)
Another respondent said that number three works well in his church. In all groups in which participants have children, the groups provide child care on a rotating basis. He says this promotes four things.
- Each adult has the opportunity to transfer biblical values from his or her own perspective to the children. In other words, my kids benefit from your relationship with Jesus.
- It promotes more of a sense of community among group members.
- Adults have the chance to see the faith and faithfulness of the children, and are therefore encouraged by them.
- It promotes the idea that children are important in the life of the church.