“What do you do with kids at a house church?”
I’ve heard this question many times. As a father of four kids, the question of what you do with kids when you’re part of a house church (or network of house churches) isn’t a theoretical one; it hits at the heart of the responsibility to parent well and equip your children in the faith.
People in the house church movement in North America are developing some creative and meaningful responses. I wanted to share a simple way the kids in our house church have become an important part of our gatherings (rather than a group to be entertained!) and are learning to organize themselves and interact with the adults around the scriptures.
The last few weeks, the kids in our house church have been creating plays to act out Bible stories. The older kids lead the younger ones, and everyone gets to participate.
We’ve ditched the crayons, an adult bouncing around trying to look silly to keep the kids entertained, or even a complicated curriculum. We have the kids pick a story from the Bible (or one we’re reading together already), then the older kids take the younger kids downstairs. They read the story again to the younger kids, then they work together to create roles, parts, and props to act out the story for the adults. After about 20 or 30 minutes, they come back upstairs and present it to the adults.
Afterward, we ask them to teach us what God is showing them from the story and we interact with them about it. Sometimes, it flows well afterward to enter into a time of prayer/worship/communion. (We always try to include the kids in communion, and sometimes ask them to tell us in their own words why we take communion and what it means.) Every time our kids have done a play so far, the first thing I hear from them afterward is, “Can we do another one? Can we do another one?!!”
It’s been really fun and meaningful for the kids and the parents! More importantly, I feel like the kids in our house church are really interacting with the scriptures in a meaningful way.
Here are some other benefits I see:
- The kids are not compartmentalized into different age groups – the older kids lead the younger ones and help coordinate places for them to participate in the play.
- It facilitates leadership among the older kids, and they feel a responsibility to care for the younger kids.
- They learn conflict resolution skills and how to interact and make decisions as a team/group.
- There has been no need for a “staff” to watch the kids. So far, the kids are so excited about working together to present the story to the adults, they just entertain each other and stay focused and excited about the story they are acting out.
- Instead of the adults entertaining the kids, it’s the other way around. THEY feel an important part of the gathering.
- The kids are not just passively learning about a story – they are interacting with it in a meaningful, experiential way that facilitates learning and life application.
- The kids feel important and included in the festivities of the house church meeting.
- It’s FUN!
Here’s a sample of the kids acting out the story of “Daniel and the Lion’s Den.” They’re not exactly ready to take on Broadway, but creative exercises like these are one way God is preparing them to know the scriptures and take on life.