I truly believe that prioritizing small groups for elementary-aged children and students is the smartest move you can make in your ministry for short-term stability AND to maximize future growth.
One of the pictures my financial advisor drew when talking about money markets was a rectangle to represent a pool. Living in Texas, I can fully appreciate this analogy and I watched as he filled the box with a lot of little swimming X’s. Then he drew just one lifeguard big O off to the side watching them. He asked if it would be hard for that one adult to keep all those children in the pool safe? We agreed it could be- depending on the age of the kids and their swimming ability.
So then he asked if I would feel comfortable leaving my 2 young children in there with all those other kids while I went away to work on my tan? Well there was no way I’d feel OK about that. He reassured us that when he looked for places to invest our hard-earned money, one of the main criteria was a lot of lifeguards looking after it. He drew more O’s all around the pool and then bigger circles grouping a lifeguard with just a few nearby kids to show who these lifeguards would be watching specifically (like a zone defense in sports). But I can’t get that picture out of my head for our church context as well.
Each week, moms and dads trust us with their most priceless treasures- their children. Keeping them safe is just the beginning. We want to create relational change by asking questions, listening to their thoughts and making regular contributions to their overall sense of worth, belonging and purpose.
In unstable times, it’s wiser than ever to focus on what we can do that doesn’t cost a lot of money but still adds great value to our ministry. There’s nothing to lose by casting vision and training more small group leaders to invest in a mission with such potential. Plus there’s an incredible return on investment- paid in hugs, high fives and hand-drawn pictures! With more leaders strategically placed around our ministries, more personalized attention can be given to each child. And in these safer, smaller settings- spiritual growth can increase at an unbelievable rate.
A creative way to communicate this vision to your leadership and to your entire church community might be to come up with a common everyday coin that can represent the children in your church. Start by figuring out how many adults participate on Sundays compared with the number of children you serve. What’s the percentage? At our church, we discovered that a quarter of the people that attend on Sundays were children. So we passed out quarters one week in the main worship service and asked the congregation to pray for us whenever they held a quarter and to consider investing their time and gifts with us each week. How have you cast vision on the importance of community and small groups? Share your ideas with us.