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School's Out!

by Laura De Gomez

Our small group for moms faced a dilemma: What should we do with our kids while we met during the summer? Our solution: Bring the kids along, and make them the focus of the meeting. We have done this for the last three summers. It has the advantage of providing continuing fellowship for the moms (we would go crazy without some adult conversation), as well as giving a "program" for the kids one morning a week. We get a chance to have some spiritual input into our children's lives; we also use the gathering as an opportunity to invite our nonChristian friends.

If this sounds appropriate for your group, we offer this advice from our experience.

Divide and conquer.

Don't let one mom do it all. Rotate the meeting place from house to house. The mother who offers her house should not provide snacks, do the teaching, or plan activities—picking up all those toys before and after the meeting is enough!

Serve suitable snacks.

Forget the herbal tea and scones. Minister to your kids by making the food fun for them.

Teach kid-style.

Keep it simple and short. Use visual aids such as puppets or flannelboards, or act out a story with your children's dolls and stuffed animals. If your creative juices have run dry by the end of the school year, your Christian bookstore will have materials. You can also search for "children's ministry resources" on the internet.

Open up.

Parents who would never go to a church will come with their children to a "kids' thing." Tell them up front that a Bible story will be part of the program. (And pray!) The children's story can be an inoffensive way to share the gospel with parents. Several parents who have come to our summer meetings have later visited our Bible studies.

We are always glad to get back to our regular small group at the end of the summer. However, the change of pace refreshes us, keeps us in touch, serves our summer needs, and gives us a chance to reach out to other moms. Last summer, as one mother shared the story of Jesus' disciples in the boat during the storm—complete with group participation on the wind, rain, thunder, and lightning—another mom, enthralled, commented, "We should do our Bible studies like this!"

~from Discipleship Journal, May/June 2002

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