Children and Community

The many ways to include children in your community life.

The greatest issue for small groups that want to bring younger families together is how to include children or to provide childcare. Lorna Jenkins says:

"In churches where small groups are the basic growing units for the adult congregation, the children need the same context for growth, a place to find peer acceptance within their spiritual family…A group of children who are walking together in the Christian way have a profound effect upon each other."
– Lorna Jenkins, Children's Cell Groups

Here is an overview of the process and the options:

Biblical Foundations for Children as Part of the Community

  • Scriptures suggest that children were a part of the gatherings of the early Christians (Colossians 3:20; Ephesians 6:1-3).
  • Adults need children as much as children need adults (Matthew 18:1-5; Luke 18:15-17).
  • Children are models of faith, little bearers of the Kingdom of God (Mark 10:15)
  • The small group creates a learning environment, contributing to the fulfillment of every parent's responsibility (Deut. 6:4-7).
  • Children create a greater sense of community among participants, enriching our understanding of one another.
  • The kind of faith and humility children embody is an example of how we are to relate to our Heavenly Father as His children. (Matthew 18:3-4;Romans 8:16;1 John 3:1).

First Steps

If you plan for childcare to be a part of your group…

  • Contact those who signed up to be a part of your group in advance so that you can plan for your first meeting.
  • Get the necessary details.How many children do they have? How old are they? Will they be joining you every time?
  • Probe parents' expectations. Do they want their children to be involved in the group's interaction, or do they imagine children being in a separate room?

- If a separate room, will a caregiver be necessary?

- Are they presuming there will be organized activities?

Childcare Options

General Options for Childcare:

  • Children are integrated in part or all of the group's life.
  • Children are by themselves in a separate room.

- Activity is prepared (e.g. VegieTales video with questions)

- Parents have responsibility of providing activities for their own children, or they agree to rotate preparation.

  • Children need a caregiver.

-This might be the same person for a season.

- Participants can rotate responsibility each time.

Summary of Specific Options for Childcare:

  1. Children remain present with adults every meeting at the host's home.
  2. Children remain present with adults for part of the meeting, and then sub-group by breaking into a separate group in a separate room of the host's home.
  3. Children and adults meet separately every time in the host's home.
  4. Children join the adults every other meeting or once a month (meeting separately during other weeks in the host's home).
  5. As a group, arrange for a caretaker for all of the children in the group.
  6. Allow only for nursing infants to remain present with adults during the small group meetings, and arrange other care for older kids.
  7. All of the small group participants rotate caring for children each week/biweekly/monthly.
  8. Only those who have children in the group rotate the responsibility of caring for children each week/biweekly/monthly.
  9. Each parent arranges for the care of their own children outside of the small group through a relative or sitter.
  10. Each parent is responsible for arranging for the care of children inside of the small group through a relative or sitter.

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