How Missionaries Do Children’s Church

AaronCommunity, Life, MeetingsLeave a Comment

What do we do with our kids if we are doing house church?

With the increase in measures to control the spread of COVID-19, Pastor Aaron reached out to RVC’ers who have lived in overseas settings where we often meet in homes for church to hear our thoughts.  As a mother of young children who has been involved in house churches for several years, I wanted to share some of my experience.

Let’s talk about house churching with young children present. Kids are a blessing from the Lord (Ps. 127:3), but often we are used to them being in separate children’s programming during the weekly church service. So having them present in the house gathering is quite a big difference! Hopefully this post will help you think through some ideas to make the idea of children present feel less overwhelming.

Remember the needs of the kids (and mothers)

House church is a unique situation allowing us to model to our children our value of the Body and the Word. When we gather we want to make sure to include them because the Word is not simply for adults. We want our gatherings to keep in mind the needs of the youngest present, the mothers who often bear the primary responsibility for caring for the kids, and the others present. The goal is not to simply have all these parties present but to care for the hearts and minds of each of those present. Thinking about the kids as well as adults applies to the music we sing, the way we have a Bible study or teaching time, how we have prayer time, and how to celebrate the Lord’s supper.

Sometimes we can forget our kids’ needs as we gather and grow frustrated with them for their noise or decide that the service would just be better if they would go in the other room and have some screen time. I want to propose some helpful ideas to include our children in these small gatherings of the Body. 

Snacks and drinks

One basic need we need to account for our children is their hunger and thirst. Have you considered when your children may become hungry or thirsty? If it will be during the service, consider having a prepared snack already in the room where you will gather to feed them during the meeting. Our kids actually have often wanted more of a snack than they would normally eat and often earlier than I would have otherwise provided it, but having a snack present and prepared that all the parents are comfortable with has enabled longer and more meaningful conversation. I also realized I need to have drinks and appropriate drinkware for the children already at hand so I as the mother would not miss part of the service.

Naps

For very young children, it may be necessary to come to a house gathering or host a house gathering with all the supplies prepared for your child to nap. If you are going elsewhere, make sure to have whatever sleep props, bedding, and any baby monitor you may desire. Talk with the host to make sure you have a plan for a place you and they feel comfortable with the child being. Make sure you have thought through in advance how long you are comfortable with the small one crying or making noise and discussed who is responsible for getting the child up when needed. It is easy to allow distractions to keep us from the Word so minimizing these important. 

Activities

Your children may need your help knowing what they can and should do during the parts of the gathering when they are expected to be quiet. Perhaps you can prepare coloring pages, playdough, kinetic sand, or simple crafts. Maybe you can pull out toys that are not in the normal rotation or get out toys that are quiet but can be used to build or put together. Provide your child with age appropriate activities. If your child is old enough, provide them a Bible to read along or a printed copy of the text that they can color/write on. Remember that simply providing activities is often not sufficient for young minds. You can help make the time special for your children by sitting beside them, or on the floor with them (if they are young) and doing their activity with them. As an adult, you will be able to learn to focus on the text even as your hands are busy doing something else. 

Remember as you prepare to talk with any other parents to make sure they are comfortable with the activities that you are planning for your children. Some parents may not be comfortable with Veggie Tales coloring page or Barbies or Ninja Turtles, etc. The things that are not an issue in your family may be something another family would prefer to avoid for one reason or another. In the house church gathering, conversing about these things is often even more important than it would otherwise be.

Help them learn from the Word

Another thing to keep in mind as you plan the activities for the children is how to help them to learn from the Word. Consider drawing basic pictures to help explain what the text is saying for the child sitting beside you. Consider reading the text in a simpler translation perhaps even after reading it in the translation you prefer so the children will better understand. Summarize the text with simple words or ask the kids some simple summary questions before you get far into the study of the Word. If appropriate, you might even wish to ask the kids if they have a question they would like to ask. Our children might not be able to understand everything in the service, but they can understand to some extent.

Set boundaries ahead of time

After thinking through all the ways you can be helping your children, it may be important to remember that children need to know what is expected of them. They need to know the boundaries. If they are allowed to make noise (sing or play “instruments” like spoons on pots or shake plastic containers with rice) or dance during music time, they should know that in advance. If they aren’t allowed to leave the main room unless they have permission to go to the bathroom, they need to know that in advance. If they need to be quiet during the time when you are in the Word, they need to know that too. Communicate your expectations and remember you are responsible to enforce the boundaries you set. Think through in advance what you will do if/when your expectations are not met.

How others can help parents

These ideas might seem like they apply mostly to the parents of young children, but they are also valuable for others to consider. Mothers and fathers get tired caring for children especially when they are seeking to have their children quiet and not distracting others present. Perhaps the non-parents present can help simply by sitting beside children and doing activities with them. A non-parent who is willing to color or play with playdoh can be a novelty to a child helping them to listen longer as well as allowing a parent’s mind to more fully engage in the service. The house gathering church is one that allows for many unique ways to serve one another in love.

Final words

Lastly, you are not alone in figuring out how to help your child learn during house church! There may be a learning curve for you as well as the children. The benefits of having your children present are great. I encourage you even when it is hard to not keep them from the Word, worship, prayer, and the breaking of bread if appropriate. You have a special responsibility and gift of caring for these young hearts and minds. May our Lord give you wisdom and grace as you navigate these new waters, Red Village!

-Guest post by an RVC’er who lives abroad and has been involved in house church gatherings for several years.

20 activities for children

AaronLifeLeave a Comment

A self-quarantine can be tough for families with young children. It can also be a time of intentionally creating memories that will last for a long time. Here are twenty things (besides Netflix and Frozen 2) you can do with your kids during this season to invest in them and make your extra family time special.

  1. Go for a walk outside.
  2. Go to the park or Olbrich Botanical Gardens–The outside trails are free and open to the public. They’re a great place to enjoy spring and let some kids run off extra energy. Check their website before you go to make sure they’re still open.
  3. Build forts with couch cushions, blankets, tables, clotheslines, and sheets. Get creative, and let your kids sleep in it! 
  4. Cook together. Make something special or take the opportunity to start teaching your littles how to prepare meals and even help clean up.
  5. Do art projects (make a collage by cutting up magazines, string noodles or beads on yarn or pipe cleaners, make a diorama, put paint in a Ziploc bag and let the kids mix the colors, paint on icecubes with water colors, color pictures and cut them into puzzles, or make musical instruments out of recyclables!)
  6. Draw with sidewalk chalk. Leave encouraging notes and pictures on the path for cyclists and walkers.
  7. Get a head start on your garden. Plant some seeds and care for them over the next couple of weeks. Watch them sprout, and learn about how plants grow.
  8. Clean together. Little kids can help, too! Paintbrushes and water or magic erasers turn dirty walls into a fun cleaning project.
  9. Play games! If your kids are older, play board games, telephone, kick the can, hide and seek, and capture the flag, charades. For little kids, try ring around the rosy, Pictionary where the adults have to guess, balloon volleyball, duck duck goose, London bridge, or build an obstacle course.
  10. Read together. If you didn’t have time to get to the library before they closed, you can still get new reading material via their e-reading apps, Libby and Overdrive.
  11. Sing together/have a dance party. Sing karaoke and learn some new music!
  12. Memorize Scripture together and maybe even put it to music. Download the New City Catechism app and listen to the songs.
  13. Potty train your toddler, if you have one.
  14. Cut up cardboard boxes or throw pillows on the floor for lava. Create an obstacle course and avoid the lava!
  15. Plan a first day of Spring party and look outside for evidence of new life.
  16. Many organizations are creating and putting out free content to help families have fun and learn during the quarantine. Here are just a few of the options: 
    1. KiwiCo At Home Resources
    2. 30 Virtual Field Trips and Museum Tours
    3. Free Subscriptions To Educational Content
  17. Prepare a skit or memorize a poem or a verse. FaceTime with grandparents and share it with them!
  18. Set up a treasure hunt. Let your kids use your phones as walkie talkies during the hunt. Bonus points, they’ll learn your phone numbers dialing each other! (Tip for parents with iPhones—ask Siri to turn on Guided Access, which allows you to lock the user into a single app so your kids can’t delete important things or text random people photos.) 
  19. Create a list of things you’re thankful for. Post sticky notes of thankful things all over your wall and see if you can cover a whole wall. Or make two lists—“God is…” and “Therefore I am…” and fill them out as you learn about God’s attributes through your family devotions.
  20. Tell kids stories about when you were young. Recreate a favorite meal or moment from your childhood. 

Joel and Michele Flage

Easter Egg Hunt

AaronCommunityLeave a Comment

Join us on January 11th at 10:00 am for our annual Easter Egg Hunt! We have thousands of eggs that will be waiting to be hunted all over our church property!

This year we are welcoming children between the ages of 2-10 years old. (We will also have candy available for older kids!)

Next Steps Class

AaronNewsLeave a Comment

Interested in learning more about RVC? Our church history? Our beliefs? Our goals? How to get more involved? What it means to be a member? If so, join us at our “Next Steps Class” where we will answer all of those questions and more! Our next class is scheduled for January 12th right after the church service. Lunch will be provided.

If you are also in need of childcare please email Aaron@RedVillageChurch.com.

(The class typically last around 2 hours)

How to be a good small group attender in light of COVID-19

AaronCommunity, Life, MeetingsLeave a Comment

As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to love one another as Christ has loved us.  In light of all that is taking place around us because of the coronavirus there will be plenty of important opportunities for us to show love.  Below are some things to consider as we consider how we can continue to live in community with one another in our small groups.

1st.  If you, a family member, a roommate, or some one you recently interacted with are sick please refrain from attending a small group.  Out of love for others please consider others more highly than yourself and stay home.  Thankfully we live in an age of technology where you can participate in the meeting either through a speaker phone or video call.

2nd.  Please take time to thoroughly wash your hands throughout the day and be cautious of others if you feel a sneeze coming on.  Even though these might seem like small things to do they both are always at or near the top of the list that medical professionals recommend doing to help others healthy.

3rd.   Be cautious with things like hand shakes and hugs.  At times the right thing to do is to offer a hug when someone is in need of one but please be sensitive to offer a hug only during those times.

4th.  Take time to pray for whoever is hosting your group.  Pray that God would keep their home healthy, that He would help them to trust in Him, and that He would fill them with His joy.  

5th.   Seek as many opportunities as you can to show practical love to others in your group.  Could you write letters of encouragement?  Could you help your host do a deep clean before and after others arrive?  Could you help care for the children?  Could you help make a meal for others who were not able to make it?  

6th.   Work hard to see and to convey to your group the evidence of God’s grace whether it be in His promises to us in His Word or in providential blessings that are around us.  Let us not waste this time by being crippled by fear, worry, and anxiety, but may we use this time to ever more boldly declare the glory of God!