Whether you are a small group leader/host or the small group pastor/point person at your church, here are 7 childcare solutions to help your small group(s) thrive.
Childcare Solutions for Small Groups
#1. The “Swap” Solution
My personal small group consists of 3 families with a combined total of 6 kids under the age of 4! This solution that I’ve dubbed the “swap,” is what we currently use, and it’s been working well. After everyone enjoys some food, fun & fellowship together on the front end of your small group, separate the adults of your group into two parts when you get to the study/ discussion portion of your gathering (example: either men & women or these 4 people & those 4 people). While one half of the adults take 30 or so minutes to watch the video curriculum, talk & pray, the other half is watching the kids, drinking coffee and eating dessert in a separate area. After the allotted time, the two adult groups swap places.
#2. The “Rotate” Solution
For this childcare solution, rotate two parents or members out of the group on a weekly basis to provide childcare in another room. This is best done in pairs to provide company for the adults and to add accountability for the kids. Never rotate out a married couple, but instead send two men or two women so that relationships are built. (from Steve Gladen’s “Leading Small Groups with Purpose“)
#3. The “Trade” Solution
If your group meets on Tuesday and you know of another group that meets on Thursday, offer to watch their children while they meet & ask them to do the same for your group. (from Steve Gladen’s “Leading Small Groups with Purpose“)
#4. The “Use Your Church’s Midweek Ministry” Solution
If your church provides some type of midweek kids ministry or childcare, parents can drop their kids off at the church and then head to their small group afterwards. Some churches who have the space, will also allow for small groups to meet on campus during this time. If your small group meets in a home that seems too far away from the church campus, ask your small group point person if meeting on the campus could be an option for your group.
#5. The “Subsidize” Solution
Some churches are able to work into their budget the ability to subsidize each small group for a pre-detertmined childcare cost. In this instance, the small group is responsible for finding their own childcare worker, and one group member (usually the small group leader/ host) will front the money to pay the child care worker on the day of the small group gathering. Then the group leader will usually fill out a digital reimbursement form and email it to the small group point person. The church will then write a check and mail it to the group leader. If you are a small group leader/ host, ask your small group point person if this could be an option.
#6. The “Partner with your Youth Ministry” Solution
Some churches have a partnership with their youth ministry where responsible students can provide child care as a ministry project to small groups in order to earn hours towards a camp or mission trip. (example: a student may earn $10 per hour. They don’t get the cash, but the hours are tracked and put towards their camp/ trip). This can be a win/ win where the youth get to go to camp for free, parents can enjoy themselves during the group study/discussion and the kids have care. If you are a small group leader/host, ask your small group point person if this is an option.
#7. The “All Family Group” Solution
When all else fails, embrace the idea that your group is an “all family group” where children are allowed to play in the same room as the meeting. This works best when the children are small and are not likely to catch much of what is being said. Or, kids that are elementary age and older can participate with the group. The positive of this is that families will grow together, but the challenge is that you will need to limit discussion time. (from Steve Gladen’s “Leading Small Groups with Purpose“). The key here is to create a flexible plan in advance that is tailored around the kids. Also, if you have older kids or trusted teens in the group, you can give them incentives to help play with and lead the younger kids in an activity during the discussion time, which may help to eliminate some distractions.
Childcare Solutions Bonus: The “Pool Your Money Together” Solution
Each couple or parent can bring a couple of dollars to combine with everyone else’s. Then (even if it’s just for one hour during the study/ discussion time) hire a quality childcare worker to look after the kids in a separate area while the adults enjoy the discussion with minimal interruption, and no one goes broke.
This article about childcare solutions for small groups originally appeared here.