Over a year ago I wrote a quick post about small groups and kids. I was basically asking the question, "Can adults and kids grow in the same small (from here forward called 'community') group?" After working out some of the kinks, I've come to the conclusion that the answer is unequivocably, yes! Let me say up front that I'm not a fan of having community groups where kids aren't engaged in the study aspect of the group. It seems to me that it's communicating the wrong message to them, the message of, "This isn't for you."
Don't get me wrong, I understand that kids can be a distraction and that adults need time together with other adults talking about adult issues. I get why groups segregate, I'm just not convinced it's helping either party.
Here's What We Do
Our community group meets on Saturday nights at our house. We spend the first half hour eating a meal together and getting caught up with each other. After dinner is (mostly) cleaned up, we move from the kitchen into the living room to do our study. Since we started we have been using Marty Machowski's family devotional book titled Long Story Short.
Each week the lesson has 5 parts to it. We do the first part together as a group. The rest are completed throughout the week at home as a family. Each lesson takes about 10 minutes to complete. We begin and end the lesson time with prayer, usually led out by one of the children in the room. From there the kids are dismissed to go play upstairs and the adults talk through the lesson, taking it deeper. We ask questions like why our kids need this story (and why we do as well) and how we can apply it ourselves. We end our time together taking prayer requests and praying with and for each other.
The rest of the evening is spent listening to kids make a mess upstairs, before helping them clean up before everyone has to leave so we can all be to church the next day.
This has worked great for us ... most of the time. We have our nights where either kids or adults are in a funk and we struggle to get through, but we have more nights where kids are asking great questions that lead to gospel conversations and adults (re)learning how to study the Bible and have fun at the same time.
This is true community ... multigenerational community ... gospel community.