Committing to a small group for the purpose of developing and living out Christian community is no light decision, but the possibilities for maturing as a disciple of Jesus Christ and sharing in the maturing of others far outweigh the many challenges. The most often sighted challenge is what to do with children while parents attend a weekly small group meeting. Here are some suggestions. By the way, if children aren’t a concern for you, please keep reading. At minimum, you’ll be able to offer counsel to young parents and maybe even help.
- Use the built in care of older siblings. Being the oldest kid has its perks – for example, acting like a CEO when mom and dad aren’t around. One night a week for a couple of hours ask your older child or children to help you and your spouse grow in your Christianity by watching their little brother or sister. When you get home, remember to heap praise and thanks for the service and tell the older child what good things God did for you and the group while she was supporting your Christian growth.
- Use extended family who live in the area, like grandparents or aunts and uncles. If you happen to live close to relatives, take the kiddos over to grandma’s house or ask auntie to come to yours. They love your kids and want time with them. Like the suggestion above, remember to convey how much you appreciate your family member’s support of your moving toward Christlikeness. If the family member providing childcare is not a believer, maybe watching your children will provide an occasion for a gospel conversation around the inevitable question, “What are you doing every week when go to this meeting?”
- Rotate childcare responsibilities among group members.Eevery fourth, fifth, or sixth week, one couple serves the others by caring for the children. If your group has families with a lot of kids, maybe the kids come to the hostess’ home where someone in the group supervises children while the rest of the group meets.
- Offer to provide care for a small group that meets at a different time. Small groups in our church meet many different times during the week. Consider taking initiative with a young family in our church. Ask, “What do you do with the kids when your small group meets on Monday nights? If you get in a bind, give me a call. I’d like to help if I can.” Further, not every person in our church can be a part of a group. Some logistical matter prevents participation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help others be a part of their small group. Providing child care could be a way to help.
- Students in the church can serve others in the body by offering to babysit children as a ministry. We’ve got some great kids in our student group. Many of them would happily take the opportunity to serve you by caring for your children a few hours one night each week. By the way, we are teaching our students to serve without expectation of compensation. Just serve and leave the rewarding of the service to our Lord.
- Pool together to hire childcare while using the church facilities.A group with a lot of children could pitch in a few dollars per kid and pay some hungry college student to watch them for a couple of hours. Using the church building with its nursery, playground, and huge open field makes sense.
- Hire a babysitter. When all else fails, pay someone to watch your kids at your home. This happens all the time in the American culture when parents want or need to be away from the house. It will cost you a little money, but meeting with your group is so important to your group and to you, you are willing to invest a little money to make it happen. You pay for a babysitter for an occasional date night; it’s make sense to pay for a sitter to foster your Christian growth.
Our world is not simple. Christianity is not convenient. We are not consumers looking for the easiest, least expensive, or best deal. We are Christian disciples trying to become like Christ and help other followers of Jesus do the same. Let's not allow a really great gift from God, our children, hinder us from the greatest pursuit -
As always I welcome your feedback and any suggestions you might have for an upcoming Lunchtime Musing.