Many churches are enthusiastic about cell group meetings in homes, but parents with younger children face a crunch: Shall they hire a babysitter, or shall they bring their kids along and hope they behave during the adult interaction? Here's how two groups are dealing with the problem.
In Durango, Colorado, Sam Holt's small group has a special family night once a month. Each family presents a project—a skit, a song, a puppet show—to the other five families in the group. The continuing Bible study is laid aside this evening in favor of the six presentations.
"This not only includes the children in our group," says Holt, pastor of First Baptist Church, "but it also gives a focus to family worship throughout the month.
"I'd tried several other approaches to home devotions that failed, and I was asking myself, 'What can I do to get families moving in this area?' The monthly project has finally brought results, because it has accountability tied to it. Parents teach biblical truths at home in the process of preparing something to present to the rest of the group.
"Actually, the kids are the ones who pull the grown-ups along. They love getting ready; my own young children are constantly pushing me: 'Let's make up another puppet show for the Bible study.'"
Holt tells about one family who arrived unprepared one month. "Even that became a learning experience," he says. "They began analyzing what had hindered them in the preceding days—was it busyness, too much TV, fatigue, or what?"
On the other three Wednesday nights of the month, the group's children stay at home with babysitters.
The Chinese Alliance Church's study group in Wheaton, Illinois, brings its children each Friday night and entertains them with a children's videocassette, a hired teenager, and popcorn.
"Our children range from infants to seven-year-olds," says Pastor David Wong, "and we tried having some very creative people teach the children while the adults had their Bible study. But no one seemed to be willing to stick with this ministry; they either ran out of creative ideas or patience.
"One night we met in a home that had a video player. We rented a children's movie, and our problem was suddenly solved.
"So far we've used Walt Disney films, cartoons, and some Warner Brothers features. Our town library rents videocassettes for as low as $2 a day, and video stores aren't much higher. Meanwhile, the teenager has a standing job for every Friday evening."
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