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 its 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.
My small group coach—Dave Thomas—called me earlier this week and asked to have breakfast with me. We met at the Original Pancake House this morning, the morning after our first meeting. He asked how our first get together had gone. He asked helpful questions like, “Do you have an intern yet?”
What I really liked is when he asked, “How can I pray for you?” I had several things I wanted prayer for related to my personal life, my family, our group. I feel cared for, encouraged, and supported.
He and his wife Tina are planning on visiting our group next month. It’s great to be part of a supportive Small Group system with caring coaches.
We launched our own small group tonight. Just as always I drove to group feeling very unprepared. Yes, I had prayed. And I had also prepared my lesson, but lots of other things were foggy in my mind. What icebreaker should we use? Is anyone we invited going to show up? I ask my wife Vicki, “Are we doing worship?” She answered, “No, not this week.” Fortunately, she and the host had worked out a lot of the details. (Whew! We do have a good team to start with–a host couple, the husband will serve as the worship leader.) Feeling inadequate, we prayed asking God to show up and make Jesus real to people. We invited him to breath on this small group and on this first meeting. He did.
This first meeting was a potluck. It was stormy weather. There were some tornado warnings for nearby areas. One person called and said she wasn’t coming because of the stormy weather. Besides us and the host couple, four others came—a couple, a wife, and a single gal. Almost everyone was unconnected to a small group, three of them had never been in a Vineyard group before.
We did an icebreaker over the meal, “What’s your name? Where were you born? What is one interesting thing about yourself?” I explained my vision for the group—experiencing Jesus together and sharing him with others, seeing miracles, including children to an extent. Then we moved to the living room and did Outflow week 1. Superb curriculum. Great discussions. We broke up into men and women for ministry. We ask the Holy Spirit to give words. He did. We prayed for each other. It’s good to be entering into community. Thanks, God for a good start. For using ordinary people like us to show your extraordinary goodness through.