Every member of the family is created in God’s image, from the youngest to the oldest. Children are meant to be a part of the cell group. They can hear God and they can minister to other people just as powerfully as any adult.
I was talking to someone a month or so ago who said their cell group hadn’t met all year, partly because some of the children were a problem. They hosted the group at their home, but were tired of the children spending group time in their children’s bedrooms and “trashing the joint.” They were thankful when renovations made the home unsuitable for hosting the group.
My wife told these people, “If you do not include the children now, you won’t have them at all later.” We shared some resources and tips to include children in the group.
I lead a group in our church that is specifically family focused. We try to make it children friendly and also relevant to the adults. I am always sure to include worship music and some child-related videos that relate to the theme of the day. We also have a Bible passage that I encourage the children to read.
Food is important. We have the children prepare something that can cook during the cell meeting and they look forward to that for the end of the group.
Sometimes the kids are unruly, and the parents don’t discipline them or hold them accountable for their behaviour. Sometimes the adults are out of sorts and refuse to join in.
But other times I see the lights go on in the hearts of a child or a parent and I think, “Yes! God is working here, despite everything!”
Children need to be included as much as possible in group life. Some groups have a separate lesson time for children. They include the children for the Welcome and Worship segments, and then a different adult each week takes the children to another room for the Word part. That approach works, but make sure that you have child safe protocols in place- both the legal requirements for Working With Children Checks and your church policies and guidelines for children’s ministry.
Also, when you are thinking about whether the group is getting to the size where it needs to multiply (i.e. 12-14 people), make sure you count the children. They are people too, and they are apart of the inter-personal dynamics of the group.
So let’s keep on persevering in including all people of all ages in our groups, and celebrate the wonderful things that God can do.