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.
  11. Organize a system where small group participants from other groups at your church, who meet during different times of the week, rotate the care for the children of your small group (and your small group participants return the service).
  12. Arrange to have young adults from your church's youth ministries oversee the care of children in your small group weekly, biweekly, or once a month.
  13. One person decides to oversee the care of children for a whole quarter or longer.
  14. Lean on older children or teenagers in the small group to assist with caring for children.

How to Build a Life-Changing Children's Small Group

  1. Choose a room in the host's home that does not look like a classroom (e.g. have them all sit on cushions facing each other).Make the environment fun and exciting for them.
  2. Develop and use 'ground rules' (i.e. core values & core practices) with children.
  3. Prepare and share food together with children.
  4. A children's small group should not exceed 8 children. You will need two adults to lead this many children.
  5. Allow friends to stay together, but encourage them to interact with everyone at each meeting.
  6. Do not just read the Bible to them; do story-telling.
  7. Make a special time for children to share about their week with others in the group.Have them sit in a circle facing each other for this time.
  8. Remain flexible as the leader of the children's small group.
  9. Variety keeps it fresh with kids.
  10. Encourage children to pray for one another and within the group format.
  11. Encourage children to "be a friend to each other," (i.e. minister to each other).
  12. Encourage children to sing together for worship or simply play lively Christian music in the background.

Creative Ideas for Activities in Children's Small Groups (Not Entertainment, but Involvement):

Don't try to entertain children, involve them!

  1. Invite children to use many of their physical, artistic, and musical skills during worship.
  2. Have the children do a "puppet show" or skit for the adult small group participants (vice-versa).
  3. Explain what the Lord's Supper means, and invite the children to celebrate it together.
  4. Explain what Baptism means, and invite the children to celebrate the baptism of a person together.
  5. Use "fill-in answers" to questions (e.g. When we pray, we pray in name).
  6. Do water-color painting, clay sculptures, drawing, etc. that is based on a biblical story.
  7. Do a nature walk and share about God's creation with children. Invite them to try to find or collect things along the way (like a scavenger hunt).
  8. Oversee the development of a scrap book by all of the children in the group.
  9. Compose a worship song together or act out a Bible story for a video to watch and discuss together.
  10. After asking permission from the child, share a child's special need for prayer.Invite the other children to lay hands on him or her to pray.
  11. Each week, or every other week, introduce an adult small group participant to all of the children and have him or her share briefly about who they are and about their love for Jesus.
  12. Celebrate special events and holidays with the adult and children small group participants together.

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