We are getting so excited about kicking off small groups again for the fall. We are looking forward to helping everyone in our church body find a home in a small group.
We were planning to begin small group sign-ups this Sunday. However, we decided that we want to give you one more week so we can equip you with information to help decide which group is best for you. To do that, we will be handing out information on Sunday morning with details about each group — when the groups meet, and their location. We would ask you to pick up those sheets on Sunday or find them on our web site and then pray over them next week before we begin sign-ups on Sunday, Sept. 5.
We know that in the past, one of the issues that has helped families determine the best small group to meet their needs was the issue of childcare.
This fall, we are asking you to think about childcare in a new way. You can assume that each group will make arrangements for childcare; however, those arrangements will look different than they did in the past.
The reason we are making this change is that our heart’s desire is to see every adult in our church body plugged into a small group and building significant relationships. Our desire is for each person to be able to fully participate and engage in the group so that they can build a home of faith. We want fathers to lead their homes spiritually, we want moms to be refreshed when they walk into a small group and when it is possible we want them to do this together. Small groups are a safe place where people can grow together in friendship, accountability and their walk with God. We have found that, as hard as we try, it is more difficult to do that when a significant number of people are bringing their children to the group.
We all love our children. In fact, we know that our children love small group as much as the adults in many cases! That is true for our children and our group. But we also have experienced that having a house full of children can be disruptive to fostering those relationships. As much as we love our kids and we love for them to have fun, they are kids and they have needs. Those needs often happen right in the middle of a deep discussion or an emotional moment.
So, we are asking our groups to think creatively on how to provide childcare this fall. Here are some ideas:
1. Group members can still bring their children to the host home where they will be watched by a babysitter, as they have in the past. However, the adults will go somewhere else to meet. Think about a meeting room at a firehouse, Panera, Caribou or the church office as a few options. Be creative!
2. The church will provide a list of babysitters and each family can be responsible for setting up their own childcare. Several families might even want to rotate their homes and share a babysitter. Others might want their children to go to bed, and they will choose to hire their own babysitter.
3. Go in together with another family that has small group on a different night and swap children. You watch their kids, and they watch yours! It’s a win-win. And it’s free!
4. If none of these ideas work, obviously, we don’t want to break up a group because of it! If your group decides to continue having children at your group, then we would ask that the group establish guidelines for how that will work. For example, the children will be respectful to the host home by helping with clean-up. And the babysitter will do his or her best to keep the children in a basement or separate room throughout the meeting time.
Of course, we would not expect infants to be left at a location away from their parents. Please feel free to bring your babies to the group.
We realize this is a new way of thinking. And we know it can be more work than in the past. But we are asking each group to try it!
So, here are your next steps:
1. Pick-up an info sheet on Sunday to learn more about the small groups that are available.
2. Begin praying about which group might be best for you.
3. Give a group leader a call, if you have more questions.
4. Sign-up for small groups either at the Welcome Table or online beginning Sept. 5.
5. Your group leaders will work with the group to come up with the best childcare situation based on the membership of the group.
We would love to tell you in advance exactly how that will look for each group. However, we also realize that some of those decisions will depend on who signs up for each group.
We want to thank you in advance for your open hearts and willingness to try something new. We truly believe that in the long-run, it will help create stronger small groups and help each person in our church body grow in his or her relationship with Christ.
Serving together with you!