Sojourn is a church with two wings. We have large public worship gatherings, and we have smaller community groups. At Sojourn, we spend a lot of time thinking about what we teach children in our larger gatherings. But our children need our community groups too. They need an extended church community—an extended family that will come alongside their parents and support them in the gospel. Here are seven great ideas for integrating kids into the life of your community group. Some can be implemented easily during the night of your regular meeting—with a little help from the childcare servants serving your group. Others will need a little time and preparation outside of your regular group time. Some are great ideas for gathering the families in your group to hang with our kids (and your neighbors’ kids) during the summer. All of these ideas are outward—they are great ways to help your CG and the families in it to think about being on mission together to their friends and neighbors.
1. School of Life—The goal is to equip the kids in your group with new skill sets that they will use as adults. You might gather the kids in your group to teach them sewing, car maintenance, painting, or even Biology at the park.
2. Backyard Bible Club—Teach the Scriptures each week through, art, drama, music, games, food, etc. Your community group would take time to plan and determine the study. You could base your lessons around a great resource like the Jesus Bible Storybook. At the end of the study the goal would be that the children have each heard and experienced the Bible’s grand story and see how they fit into God’s great plan. Another option is to do this in your backyard as a week long Art Camp or Vacation Bible School during the summer.
3. Reading Club—Encourage families to choose one book every two weeks or so and read together. Then come together each week and share what has been read, learned, and whether they’d give it a thumbs-up or down. This is a great way to integrate the whole family into the week’s “highs and lows.”
4. Family Follies—Encourage the kids in your group to work on plays, skits, music, and comedy with the childcare help during each week’s group time. Then, at the end of each month, the kids perform their drama of choice for the community group and neighbors you’ve invited.
5. Walk, Jog, Bike, Skate—Taking time to teach the kids about our responsibility to take care of our bodies is a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Encourage your group to meet at the park or zoo and bless one another with a community work out.
6. Game Time—Even toddlers love a competitive game of Candy Land. Spend a winter afternoon inside as a community challenging the kids with fun board and card games. On a warm summer day, water is the best way to bring a smile to a child’s face… even the adults will love running through the sprinkler. You can’t beat water games for kids fun—especially if your budget is tight for time and money.
7. Kids in the Kitchen—Gather early and invite the kids in your group to help prepare a family meal. With easy to follow children’s recipes, kids are introduced to basic math skills, reading and comprehension. Using a recipe will also develop their ability to follow directions, a very important skill for children. Then, enjoy the feast together!
HT: I’ve adapted this list from a similar one put together by Linda Snyder, Children’s Ministry Director for Soma Communities in Tacoma, WA.