Over the past few years more and more churches are encouraging small groups that meet somewhere other than the church facility. From the beginning there’s been a question that certainly needs an answer, “What do we do with the kids?”
I wish I had an easy answer. There just doesn’t seem to be one. However, there are some principles that I would encourage anytime and anywhere you have the opportunity to lead kids. I think these principles apply for Home Groups, too.
Understand Your Organization. Start by answering “who, what, when, where, and why?”
- “Who” will be in this small group? Will all the kids be close in age or, more commonly, will there be a wide age range of children? That makes a difference!
- “What” is the point of this small group? Are you there to teach or provide childcare?
- “When” will this small group meet? Will this meeting be a standard one hour or do you need to have more content ready “just in case” the parents go long?
- “Where” will this small group meet? It’s important to provide an environment that encourages learning and not lounging or playing.
- “Why?” Perhaps the most important question is why. Why are we doing this? Identifying the why can answer the “what” and the “how” as you prepare.
Safety and Security are Vital for Success. Make sure that your church and your small group have developed policies and procedures and that you and your teaching team adhere to those policies. Included in your policies will be the screening of all volunteers with references and a background check. Also remember the “two in a room” policy: no adult will ever be left alone with minor children. Protect the kids, the church, the host family, yourself, and the Kingdom. Just because you’re not at the church doesn’t mean that safety and security is any less important. It actually may be MORE important.
Understand and Value Kids. Regardless of where a kids small group meets, understanding the basic needs of kids, the general characteristics of kids, and valuing who kids are is very important. Don’t fall into the “babysitting’ trap but value their need to be discipled in age-appropriate ways. Do your research and be prepared.
Follow Good Teaching Practices. When you truly value kids, you’ll want to do whatever it takes to make sure they have a good learning experience.
- Preparation is key. The best session is a prepared session. If you don’t have a plan, you’re planning to fail.
- Understand general characteristics of the children you’re teaching and choose age-appropriate learning activities. Activities that work for a 4-year-old most likely won’t work for a fourth grader without some adaptation.
- Use a variety of learning methods to teach children of various learning styles. Different crayons and a different coloring page isn’t variety. Consider Art, Drama, Games, Research, Creative Writing, and Music. Sprinkle them all with a little technology and you’ll have the variety you need.
- Remember that guided-conversation is key. While allowing kids to independently learn through activities you’ve prepared, participate both in the activity and guiding the conversation to reinforce the Bible truth you’re teaching that session. Kids might be painting a picture on a blank canvas but the conversation while painting is about the Bible story or Bible truth. It’s TEACHING with intentionality.
Use an Ongoing Curriculum Line. An ongoing curriculum line offers several benefits.
- It removes the need to create something on your own, which is a lot of work, pressure, and responsibility.
- It removes the temptation of showing theologically poor videos (video supplements can be helpful but be careful about poor doctrine and theology).
- It allows your small group to follow a developed sequence with age-appropriate learning activities.
Don’t forget to “FROG!” As much as you want to be successful, much more so the Lord wants you to be successful. PRAY and Fully Rely On God.
Bill Emeott serves as Lead Ministry Specialist for Lifeway Kids. A graduate of Mercer University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Bill has served as a Kid’s Minister and currently teaches 2nd Grade Bible study.