In this audio from our October 2014 Leader Meeting, pastor Jon Ludovina discusses how to think about childcare in the context of your LifeGroup:
We encourage all LifeGroups to adopt weekly and monthly rhythms to ensure that we are doing life together. Rhythms are intentionally doing things together with regularity and gospel intentionality. Rhythms are practical ways we are going to be involved in one another’s lives. We encourage groups to start with three basic intentional rhythms: 1) Gather Together—attend a gathering together, 2) Grow Together—group time for intentional training, and 3) Go Together—a social gathering in a non-threatening environment to invite people into your community. So how do we involve our kids these basic rhythms?
Ideally the group chooses one of the Gatherings to attend together. Of course, kids should attend Kidtown while adults attend the Gathering. We also encourage groups to plan to eat or hang out before or after the Gathering. This mealtime is a great time to involve kid-friendly discussion about the sermon and Kidtown materials. In addition to the questions from the Kidtown Homelinks, here are some of the questions I ask my three-year-old:
- How was Kidtown?
- What friends were there? Who were your teachers?
- What did Mr. Bailey talk about today?
- Is there anyone from Kidtown that we can pray for this week?
LifeGroups are more than a once-a-week meeting, but we do highly value our group time and every group should commit to a regular weekly meeting for this purpose. Group time is focused on intentional training to push each other toward Jesus. A typical group time will involve four elements: catching up on life, discussing the sermon, reviewing the group’s mission and rhythms and engaging the heart through confession and prayer.
Because of the intentionality and focus needed during group time, this is not the best environment to be supervising kids. We encourage every group to talk about childcare for group time and to come up with a group plan. This is a group discussion, not just a families-with-kids discussion, because it is a group issue. Childcare options can vary because each group needs to make a plan that works best for them. Listed below are five examples of how different groups have handled childcare during group time:
- Group A: Everyone arranges childcare for their own families, unless it is a baby (babies usually mean under 1, still nursing, and/or not able to walk). Babies are welcome at group time, and any given week there are one to five babies present during our group time.
- Group B: Families in a group pitch in to hire a babysitter to keep the kids during group time. Depending on the number of kids and the size of the home the group meets in, this could happen at the same house as group time or at a nearby group member’s home.
- Group C: Two or three adults from the group rotate pouring into kids while the rest of the group has intentional time. The group could eat a meal together, and then the adults watching the kids could take them upstairs to hang out. This would give everyone time with each other’s kids, and also give single people and couples without kids opportunities to disciple kids in a way that they would not have otherwise.
- Group D: 1st week: All together—bring your kids and let’s party. 2nd week: Women take the kids and hang out at someone’s house, a restaurant or a park, and the guys prioritize to be there that week for intentional group time (flexible for the women: if they need to miss a week this is the one to miss). 3rd week: Reverse roles from the 2nd week. 4th week: Get two people from within the group (on a rotating basis) to keep the kids while the group has an intentional time all together (or people can get their own childcare if they so desire).
- Group E: The older kids in the group (including a few middle or high school students) view it as their responsibility to watch and take care of the younger kids while the adults meet.
We want groups to be on mission together and build relationships with people who do not know Jesus. This rhythm (called a Third Place) is a social gathering in a non-threatening environment where we can be family in front of others. This rhythm should be a welcoming environment to invite people into community.
For my group, we tend to have missional rhythms that involve kids and some that do not. If you are planning ways to involve your kids on mission here are two good questions to ask: “What are my children already doing?” and “How can I involve my community in those activities?” Here are a couple of the missional, social rhythms that our group uses to involve kids:
- Many of the women in our group get together with other moms during the week to hang out and eat a meal. This is a great environment to invite new mothers and kids into.
- We host cookouts at our homes, and we have even done one at the local park. Having a cookout outdoors is a great way for all of us to be in one spot with all the kids and still have room to invite more families.
- We eat three times a day every day, so we try our best to use meals as an opportunity for mission by inviting both members of our LifeGroup and people we are building with to join us for dinner. In fact, this is such a rhythm in my family that I recently had this conversation with my three-year-old Zoe as we are sitting down for family dinner:
Zoe: “Who’s eating with us?”
Me: “Oh. No one tonight. It’s just us as a family.”
Zoe: “But, Dad, I want to see friends.”
This is a simple conversation, and I think two quick conclusions can be drawn. One, I have a very social daughter. Two, Zoe is recognizing a pattern. We do life with other people and seek to practice hospitality as Scripture commands us. We eat with people and plan ways to hang out with people. She is seeing the value we as a family put on community and mission and, by God’s grace, it will impact her for the rest of her life.
Learning how to do life on mission together with our children and involve them in our communities is essential. Neglecting this will be to the detriment of our families, our church and those around us. So let’s disciple our kids together, as a family, and in doing so put the gospel on display for everyone around us.
The goal of LifeGroups is to help people take the next step toward Jesus, making disciples in the context of everyday, ordinary life. If the goal is discipleship in the context of everyday, ordinary life, then my kids have to be part of the plan because they are part of my everyday, ordinary life.
My LifeGroup can't know me if they don't know my family.
Therefore, my kids are a part of my LifeGroup. In fact, in total we have 14 kids who are a part of our LifeGroup. They have to be. My LifeGroup can’t know me if they don’t know my family. I want my group to help raise my kids. I want my group to make me a better parent by seeing where I don’t apply the gospel to my parenting. Integrating kids into the rhythms of our group is beneficial for the kids and for us adults. My kids develop relationships with other Christians who have a real, active relationship with Jesus…I get support and help in shepherding my kids…and, hopefully, others in my group get a model of how the gospel changes parenting.
Ultimately, I am responsible for raising my kids in the Lord, and a large part of that includes allowing them to learn what Christian community is all about.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
- Deuteronomy 6:4-7
The most effective discipleship happens through modeling.
Discipleship is not just the transferring of knowledge. Yes, we want to teach our kids about Jesus and the Bible. The most effective discipleship, however, happens through modeling. Kids get to observe and see the impact of Jesus on our lives. They learn how to be missionaries from us. They learn how to talk about Jesus in everyday life.
My kids are going to learn from me how (and if) Jesus impacts my everyday life. They will see if a relationship with Jesus is worth pursuing. My wife and I are the primary model in their lives for understanding who God is and how we relate to him. The good news about LifeGroup is that we don’t have to be alone in this journey. We have a support system, a team of people to help and encourage us in discipling our kids.
Christian Community is the best way for your kid to live life. Including your kids in ministry is a part of being a good parent.
We have a growing number of young parents in our church family, and when kids come along, the question inevitably arises: “Can we still do this with kids? Can we be a part of communities that change the world now that we have the challenging task of keeping these little humans alive?” The answer to that is, of course, yes you can. And not only that, but, for the good of your kids, you must. Just like Christian community is the best way for you to live life, it is also the best way for your kids to live life. The way you approach LifeGroup will reveal to your kids the importance of community, what it means to see all of life as mission and how to develop interdependent relationships. Your decisions are actively teaching your kids what is important about life and what is not significant enough to make the cut. It isn’t that you have to pick between your family and doing ministry—you include your family in ministry and mission. Including your kids in ministry is part of being a good parent.