I have found that many leaders of small groups think that children will bring with them difficulties that can only be resolved by having an "expert" on hand. In this article I want to give you a very simple tool that will enable every small group leader and every member to facilitate the inclusion of children very naturally, and overcome difficulties they may bring with them.
The tool is very simply "As with adults"! This simple statement can revolutionize your group (whether it is a small group for children or an intergenerational one).
Children have the same needs as adults in many areas of their lives. Most of the difficulties that are encountered are because they are expected to be totally different, and the result is that they behave differently. In handling difficult people, (including children) I often start by examining my own approach and heart towards them—looking at my relationship and interaction with them and that of the rest of the small group. Are their relational needs being appropriately met? Relationship is a key that will resolve many difficulties and build a bridge that can be crossed by others.
I have done a brainstorm on what an adult needs as a member of a small group. Responses can be varied but they include:
To meet with Jesus
Unconditional love and acceptance
Support in reaching unsaved friends etc
Then we look at the list and see how many of these a child would not need. Always we find it is the same, so it is "as with adults". From this baseline we can begin to adjust our thinking when we encounter difficult children. Sadly, when difficulties arise with children, completely different attitudes and actions emerge: exclude children from our group, shout ...