Have you ever tried to find a church home group that would allow your children to tag along? Have you ever had to skip going to a small group because you couldn’t find childcare? Have you ever wondered how to connect with your children in a spiritual way? We were faced with these same issues as a family. I believe we shouldn’t have to give up community with others because we have kids, so we began a family home group in our house.
Our vision for the family home group is to include the kids in our worship, prayer, and community experience. It is a trial and error ordeal, because all 12 kids attending are under the age of 5. Preschoolers have very short attention spans and we try to take this into account.
Here’s how we do it.
My husband will tell me what topic he will teach on that night. For example, one night he said that he wanted to teach on how to hear God speak to us or give us prophetic words for others. He specifically wanted to address how God uses all five of our senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) to speak to us. Once I know the topic of discussion for the home group, I begin to develop a correlating activity for the kids.
After we welcome everyone into our home, share snacks, and get to know the visitors, my husband speaks to the crowd about our topic. We don’t send the kids away to another room, but gather them into a section of the room to teach the same topic. This particular week, I simply told the kids that God talks to us through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and fingers. That was all I needed to say, because they actually continued to learn through watching the adults and using their hands to create.
I gave the kids play dough, paper, and, crayons. I told them to look at all of the adults in the room and ask God to give them a “word” for one of the adults. As they received the word, they drew a picture or molded their play dough to represent what God was saying. Preschoolers don’t usually have the words to describe the complex feelings they have. They also may not have the courage to stand in front of an adult and deliver a prophetic word, BUT they do love to give adults drawings and creations molded by their little hands.
This project went beautifully. As we reflect on the past 2 years of this home group we see how a little picture made of markers and crayons became a direct word from God to heal a broken heart or provide direction for an entire family. It's not just the adults ministering to the children. The children are ministering to the adults.
Our home group kids also love to worship. They don’t know the words to many songs and they rarely sit still, so I bring out kids instruments and we dance and play our shakers, while the adults sing well known worship songs. One week, a 4-year-old sang a "prophetic song" in front of everyone.What is a prophetic song? She created words on the spot and they were powerful and anointed and way beyond her natural ability. How did she do it? She listened to the Holy Spirit inside of her. She listened to the melody and the words that the Spirit was singing to her, then she released that song out of her mouth and into the room.
Now, don’t get me wrong. These are still kids. After 15 minutes of serious time, they get bored. Playtime is community time. They go to the play room and play dolls and kitchen and swords and cars. They will still fight with each other, run through our adult meeting screaming so loud that we can’t think. They still get locked in the bathroom and try to steal cookies while their parents aren’t looking. Sometimes it’s a big fat mess, but sometimes it’s a beautiful, unexpected joy.
We want to foster a mindset of family style worship, so that we can cherish the multi-generational way God speaks to everyone in their own language. We have a lot to teach our kids, but they have a lot to teach us too.