Rolling Out the Welcome Mat

There are many people groups and sub-cultures right around us that we can invite into our group life.

When you think about your small group reaching out to different cultures, images of reaching out to people groups of other nations normally come to our mind, however there are many people groups and sub-cultures right around us that we tend to exclude from our group life. Let me suggest a few of those people groups and make suggestions on how to reach out and include them in our Christian community.

People Group: Children

Suggestion: It's been said that childcare is one of the biggest challenges that face small groups. What about trying to include children rather than divide the family for separate experiences. Start by including a "family feature" as part of each small group meeting. These family features can be the most memorable and beneficial parts of the group time for parents and children alike. You can do group plays, tell stories and illustrate key parts of the Bible with drawings made together. Anything created during the family feature can be saved in a scrapbook to remind children of what was learned and the fun had in doing it.

A case study of incorporating children in a small group appeared in an article from "Christian Parenting Today" (May/June 2000, pg. 32). One group brought in the children for snacks, a time of singing, the family feature and prayer. Then the kids go off to play while the adults continued to study the week's Scripture passage. To the group's delight, the older children often chose to stay for the whole study. By meeting as a small group of families, the children built an identity as members of both a Christian family and a small Christian community. One adult said, "Our children contributed to the planning and preparation of family activities and therefore began to learn how to use their gifts. ...

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