Every now and then, our Sunday night children's ministry team takes the night off. So, what do you do with the children when your small group is meeting, but, the children's ministry is not? Include them! Whoa, before you hit the send button canceling your small group, keep reading. These ideas may help out, and, if you have one of your own, add it in the comment section to share with all of our readers.
Keeping your regular schedule:
1) Pray together. Children can easily be included in prayer time before dismissing to some other activity. Some small groups present the same Bible story the parents are studying using a kids Bible, they pray with the kids, and then the kids are dismissed to another room while parents study.
2) Be prepared. Think about the age of the children involved. Make sure the children have an age appropriate place to play or to watch TV. If your small group moves between homes, this may be a good time for someone with a kid-proof home to host the small group.
3) Don't feel guilty. Many parents feel that the kids must have a deep Bible story, craft, and application to get anything out of the meeting time. However, the example of adult Christian friendship and support as well as the relationship building time for kids cannot be duplicated in our Bible classrooms.
4) Include the kids. Choose a lesson that they can be part of and let them teach you as they answer questions. I have curriculum for this if you need it.
5) Hire a sitter. My small group has 1 six year old, 1 two year old, and 3 18 month and under. We, unashamedly, hire two sitters to be with us during small group. Our sitters and children share in the fellowship meal and then the kids go play while the parents pray and study. River sometimes sits in for the prayer time.
Changing Up Your Small Group
1) Go to a family friendly location. Choose a park or a restaurant for your small group.
2) Choose a family service project. It is a great experience to serve with our kids and our friends. Visit a shut-in, bake cookies for a hospital visit or serve the homeless are all great ways to Serve the World through your small group.
3) Have a party! The small groups I've been in enjoyed some down time to socialize. Maybe this is the best time for your small group to fellowship.
4) Consider your day and time for meeting. If there are no children's classes at church, then, think about meeting at a time that may be more convenient for young children.
5) Make it a family devotional night. Choose a movie, a story book, or an activity that has a spiritual truth and do these family activities with your small group.
If you have an idea of a project, lesson or activity you'd like to try with your small group but don't know how to make it work, drop by my office! I have materials to help you with any situation.