17 kids without (much) chaos
Yesterday, two different church leaders asked me how to pull off a decent Journey Group...so here it is on the blog (of course). What do you with the kids? How can it all really work?
Last night, Tuesday, from 7 to 8:30 (official time) our Journey Group met in our not so large house, so I'll use my JG as one model. 13 adults and 17 kids make up the DNA of our group and so far it works! I'm convinced it works for one simple reason/word - "order".
If adults are going to have some decent conversations around life and godliness then we can't be dealing with kids all the time, and if there are kids there than we can't meet forever either, so we set some parameters. We officially meet for an hour and a half (7 to 8:30PM). Here's the adult Journey Group breakdown and the Journey Group children breakdown:
JOURNEY GROUP AND THE CLOCK:
"Decaf anyone?" (the 1st half hour)
As the leaders, Jaci and I (mostly Jaci) use the first 25 to 30 minutes to create welcoming atmosphere. We let the people create the community - it's only natural that way. Certain people talk all the time, certain people "love" this part of the group, etc. The unoffical time is where things (relationally) really happen. It also takes a few mintues to get the kids settled/established, etc.
"Let's gather in the living room." (the 2nd half hour)
As the leader, this is where I always realize the clock is tickin. I gather people in the living room and dive into some intentional conversations around spiritual topics, life stories in the group, recent issues, etc. In other words, this is the pivot point of the evening - the growth part - the challenge my socks off part.
"So what do we do with this?" (the 3rd half hour)
No matter what you talk about you have to "land the plane." As the leader, I have to take the conversation from spiritual talk to life application. We all know that there are lots of decent studies and curriculum, but what does it mean for the people in my group? As the leader, the application part, the rubber meets the road part, is my job. I'm pretty hard on myself in this area. If we can walk a good dance between intentional discipleship and community, then I've done my job. BUT intentional discipleship hinges on good application of whatever in the world we've been talking about. How does this stuff change my life? And yes...as always...don't ask application type of questions without being able to pin the tail on yourself as the leader. I gotta lead it in character and in discussion.
JOURNEY GROUP AND THE KID'S:
My amazing wife is a genius on this stuff. We had to have a plan if we were going to have potentially 17 kids (only two of them 13...the oldest two) at our house AND try to talk about something significant at the same time. Here's how it goes:
All kids in the basement with 2 babysitters - 13 year old girls. Parents (not us) pay $2 per kid to the babysitter. Small cost to the parent and decent payment to babysitter for her/their time.
Parents have to take care of bathroom issues/diaper issues, and large discipline issues. Other than that, babysitters are in charge and call the shots.
Schedule for kiddos:
7:00 - 7:40PM free time
7:40 - 8:20PM activity / intentional time led by babysitter
8:20 - 8:30PM clean up time