Where are the kids when we're in community group? In my time as a community group leader, I've most often hired a babysitter to take care of the kids. Often, they flip on a movie and the kids are entertained by Disney while we parents study the Bible and live life together. Unfortunately, hiring a sitter or turning to Pixar doesn't translate into an intentional time of kids learning the Bible, hearing the gospel, or developing meaningful relationships. But can it be different?
Recently, I corresponded with Casey Smith. He's a former member of Sojourn who is currently serving with Acts 29 Europe and The Crowded House, a church community in Sheffield, England, UK. I asked him, "How does THC incorporate young children into your home group / house church meetings?" He shared the following thoughts from his perspective as an outsider/American at The Crowded House:
- We ALWAYS share a meal together, which is an easy way to involve children in the life of the group.
- Some groups that meet later in the evening work it so that they put their children to sleep at each others homes so that they can be involved as much as possible.
- We try to find songs that are singable/understandable for our children but are still robust in their biblical theology and we sing those occasionally on a Sunday morning. This allows the children to be able to sing in the gatherings alongside their parents and the rest of the adults. This has been pretty encouraging to me as a parent, especially when I hear my kids singing our gathering songs during the week.
- Babysitting is common with so many kids, yet we’ve NEVER paid for a babysitter. The expectation among the community is that if you’re asked to babysit, you will babysit and you will babysit for free. Its a huge blessing and a great way to incorporate our kids into the life of the individuals in our gospel community during the week. We usually ask them to read them stories from our children’s Bibles to them during group meetings.