If your missional community has a number of younger children, how does that impact your witness and service?
Children are often seen as an excuse not to go on mission – whereas I believe they create wonderful opportunities to share the words and works of Jesus! God doesn’t want kids just to be bystanders – He fully expects them to go and make disciples.
Danielle, Paul and their children lead one of our RiverTree GoCommunities, which is focused on sharing Jesus with the families of Plain Local School District (hence their GoCo is named ‘Plain and Simple’!). The group seems to have hordes of children, many of whom are at one elementary school – which provides an obvious focal point for the group’s relationships and service.
With a Parent-Teacher conference coming up, the GoCo contacted the school and volunteered to provide a free dinner that day for the school’s teaching and support staff. They laid on a baked potato bar with lots of toppings, so that the staff could come and go whenever they had a window of opportunity. Rather than babysitting their kids at home, the GoCo parents had the children:
* Help set-up before the conference evening began
* Assist the clean-up at the end
* Serve the staff their food
* Pick out and offer beverages (which led to two 5 year old boys creating their own ‘Pepsi Dance’!)
* Make thank you cards for each of the staff
* Carry food back to the classrooms for the teachers
Of course, with kids involved not everything went to plan. The toppings bar was pre-prepared and carried into the school in a large container with many compartments – but as two children hauled it in, they managed to turn it upside down and scramble everything together! However, Danielle commented later:
“It would have been nice, pretty and quiet if my children weren’t there – but it would have been a lot less fun and far less impacting upon the school!”
A few key learnings here include:
- The prospect of including children in your missional activities can feel a little overwhelming – as a parent of 3 rowdy boys, I fully understand! However, kids are normally far more ready to engage if you give a genuine invitation and a clear explanation of why you are there.
- Plain and Simple ended up with every member of the GoCo involved in serving the school, including several families for whom this was a completely new experience to go on mission. By making it an accessible, fun and purposeful time together, new group members were able to be drawn in and see it as an achievable goal.
- The school was extremely grateful – notes and comments lasted several weeks – and the GoCo now has an open door for ongoing service and witness in that school community. Having the children as part of the evening stirred far more conversations than if only adults had been serving (and the kids immediately created a far more relaxed and fun environment!).
Children can be involved in different ways by Missional Communities – here are some of the different routes people take – and here are some reflections on how to run times together with pre-schoolers and elementary age children.
Don’t be intimidated – if the Lord has put younger children in your GoCo, He almost certainly wants them to be part of how you share the words and works of Jesus in your mission context!
Question: How can you involve children more naturally in your mission activities? How will that multiply your missional impact?