We want a kid-friendly small group but are still figuring out what that will look like in this new group. There are so many variables when you want a kid-friendly group—the number of kids, the age of the children, the needs of the adults and kids, the configuration of the host home.
Last night we had six children ages 18 months to 16 years old. We included them in the icebreaker along with the adults. It was fun. As we went around the circle all but the youngest answered the question, “What is your favorite time of day?” Here are their answers:
1st grade boy, the first of us to answer: “Lunchtime”
Girl, sophmore in HS: “In the evening right after I have finished my homework”
7th grade girl: “3:17pm when the end of school bell rings”
6th grade boy: “study hall when I play paper football with my friends”
Another 1st grade boy: “playing on the computer with my dad when he gets home from work”
After the icebreaker, we prayed blessing on the kids and our evening and dismissed them to go play.
By including children in the icebreaker, everyone gets to know one another.
In some of the groups we have been in or led in the past we have had a kids’ small group time concurrent with the adult small group time (after doing the icebreaker and one worship song together). We might do that in the future in this group but right now with the age of kids and the spacious toy-laden host home, it works great to let them play together after the icebreaker and they are enjoying this time with one another. Right now we have a wonderful situation with two teen girls that are willing to oversee the smaller kids when necessary.
The children and teens joined us later for snack at 8:30. The options? Ice cream, cookies, bread pudding, lemonade and decaf coffee. (Is this a great small group or what?)
The ideal situation in my opinion, which we happen to have now, is to have a small group where some of the people have kids and others do not. If you have all families with children, it’s easy to have more children than adults and then things can easily get overwhelming. Blending marrieds and singles and people in different seasons of life has some real advantages. In that kind of group it’s a lot like a big extended family.
It was wonderful to be in kid-friendly groups when our own children were small. They loved it and it gave them other positive adult role models. Even now with our children grown, I prefer to be in a kid-friendly group. Before group, during the icebreaker and over snack, I am getting to know the children and what they are interested in and involved in. They enrich my life and, hopefully, I can also enrich theirs.
In Mark 10:13-16 we read the story of parents bringing children to Jesus. The disciples saw the children as bothersome and tried to chase them off. But Jesus welcomed and blessed them. I want a small group where children are welcomed and blessed. It takes some extra thought and coordination, but it’s well worth the effort.
This article originally appeared here.