Home fellowships have their challenges but also great rewards, too. I came into what was called “shepherding groups” in the early 70’s when God was doing amazing things in the body of Messiah. I didn’t have any kind of philosophy or “theology” about home groups then so i just experienced it. I liked that it wasn’t “churchy” and also that young people were sitting on the floor (i was one of them).
I liked (and still do) the wisdom of older believers right there…ie., easy access. It’s a lot different asking questions in a living room than tapping somone on the shoulder after church who is on their way out to have lunch with their favorite church friends. There’s a type of question that requires thoughtful, unhurried answer. That’s what home groups provide.
Many churches today have “cell groups”. I don’t feel safe in them because they are not the primary vehicle of the church for ministry, prayer, prophecy, teaching, or evangelism. It’s low budget, non flashy, low key, spontaneous, more corrective, greater opportunity to explore topics and have questions, (more hands on), and excellent for teaching children.
Children. Ah yes. Children. That is the rub! Children running around in a large church building versus trashing your living room. Yes. That is something we need to come to grips with in cell groups. I like to bring children into the worship first (after we’ve had a fellowship meal), ask them to play “instruments”, sing or dance. Then I like to do a teaching just for them, either twice a month or every week, whatever parents prefer. I use the Torah teachings right now because they are so easy for me to find something to teach them. I lead them to Jesus through the Torah. Or, to the Father through Jesus. It usually works out that way.
Then while parents are grappling with deep Torah subjects, we prefer older children stay and do activities nearby, and younger ones can go lay down if it’s late and a night time Shabbat fellowship.
If it’s a Saturday fellowship, we do a craft with them on a table nearby and then usually I take them outside to help them release some of their energy.
The problem we adults have is that we love to get into deep and somewhat “too technical for children” subjects while they are there.
I haven’t resolved this issue. On one hand, we want the children to see how excited the adults are to study the word and to be hands on with it, but on the other hand, they are misbehaving or just being extremely squirmy.
I’ve watched teacher videos and most of the time, when they want to get children’s attention, they break up the subject into small bites but allow children to see other children completing a project. Say, for example, “Look, Johnny has completed his picture”. So you actually have to have goals for each child and the group as a whole in order for them to stay engaged.
Sometimes, i don’t care if they stay engaged. Some parents are perfectly fine allowing their kids to play outside unsupervised during the Bible study and prayer time. I’m a little uneasy about that. I am always thinking, “I don’t want anything horrible to happen to someone’s children during a fellowship in my home…”
So I haven’t dealt with that. And we haven’t even talked about children who have serious problems.Just normally super active and sometimes, easily bored children.
Any of you with home ministries and suggestions about children’s ministry in the home…comments are welcome!
Shalom to the children too!