Young kids & community – having it all

For more information on how you can join a home church stay-tuned for announcements across church platforms in October (home churches will be launching on Oct. 17th).
You can also email me at ashlee@knoxtoronto.org

 

How can parents and families participate in home church (small group), with bedtimes and energetic toddlers in the mix? With an 18 month old and a 3 year old at home, I have been wrestling with this question for awhile. I sat down with Alvin Kim, who has a wealth of experience as a dad of three and as our Family Ministries pastor, to ponder the dilemma of young families and community. Here are three key things we hope will help guide you as you ask the same question for you and your family.

 1. You are not alone AND your family is unique.

Dear friends, you are not alone! So many young families long for connection but struggle to find time and space for it.  Each family, each child you add to a family, is unique and changes how and when you are available. Where your firstborn might’ve been a dream to cart around as a baby, maybe their bedtime routine becomes essential when they are toddlers. Or where you wanted to host in order to not have to leave the house when you had babies, as they get older you long to be away from your own space.

Because of these shifting seasons, there is no perfect formula for community life for young families. I hope you find freedom in knowing that you can be an engaged participant in small groups/home church while being honest about your family’s needs and limitations. They key is to communicate with the group of people you choose to invest in, so they know how to support you.

There are lots of different ways to structure home churches for families. I’ve seen young families who meet regularly on Saturday mornings. Others who take turns with moms/dads meeting on weeknights: one week the ladies meet, and next it’s the dads’ turn. Some groups articulate a “bless this mess” approach, choosing to embrace the loudness of lots of kids running around on whatever night everyone has free – even if it’s not “ideal”. Others pool resources to hire a babysitter. Along with the Home Church leaders, I am here to partner with you to create groups that reflect your different needs. Let’s talk!

2. Community is a choice.

Here comes the tough love. You have to CHOOSE to be part of community.

No matter how many family friendly home churches there are, none of them will be 100% convenient or comfortable for you.

A lot of this comes down to priorities. When we have young children, family life and routine take up the lion’s share of our available time and resources. There is often little left over for people beyond our immediate circle. And that is something we should NOT feel guilty about! It’s a season.

But since that extra is so limited, we have to be very honest and intentional about what we prioritize.

Can I invite you to a no-judgement mental zone where you take two minutes to ask yourself these questions:

  • What does my family show up for no matter what?
  • What do I/we look forward to showing up for?
  • What is a pain to show up for? (What do we cancel often?)

The answer to the first question might be “school” or “dinner with the grandparents”, the things that are cemented in your schedule. When you say them out loud, are you happy with those things being non-negotiables?

The last two questions start to paint a picture of where you want to be and where you don’t want to be. Is small group/home church on the list? Where on the list?

My hope is that you begin to think about what Christian community requires from you, so that you can freely express how you feel about that. Maybe you are ready to say, “we are going to be all in, barring illness or severe exhaustion!”. Or maybe you feel really overwhelmed. Please don’t feel rushed towards community life commitments, as a church we honour you in your journey and will be right here when you are ready.

Home churches are not the only way to lean into community life. Some of you might be invested in serving and have deep relationships with the team you work with, or you might have vibrant engagement in your neighbourhood. As the Home Church pastor, I want to champion you and your family in those relationships. And I would love to speak with you about how my ministry can enrich that engagement, whether through prayer, partnerships, or even resources like curriculum and books.

3. We need leaders.

Leadership is how small groups/home churches thrive. And our church needs leaders.

Intentional communities grow and flourish when someone, a team, decides to be intentional about anchoring (showing up regularly) and intentional about guiding (leading Bible study, communicating, organizing outreach projects, etc).

The leader(s) are not expected to do all the work, all the time. Delegation and asking others to lead according to their gifts is a key part of being a Home Church leader. The leader is the spark, the one with a vision for how community can grow amongst a group of people.

Knox’s new Home Church ministry is going to train, equip and support leaders. You will be part of a team that walks closely with you in ministering to a group. We are building a team of leaders, a team that laughs and celebrates together, and prays and shows up for each other. 

If you read that and think, “I like the idea of leading but…”, please email/call/text/skywrite the end of that sentence to me! I want to talk to you about leadership and how I can build you up and support you in the specific ways you need in order to feel ready to lead a home church. Or if you read that and think, “not right now but sometime in the future”, let me know as well!

Young families, our church is richer and brighter with you in it. Your children, whether they are the quiet kind or the run-around-like-crazy kind, are a joy to have among us. The place for kids is at Jesus’ feet, in the middle of his important work. The place for tired parents is right there too. My prayer for you, and my own family, is that we find soft places to land in community, where we can be encouraged and where we can be real. My prayer is that we all find the blessing of deep friendships with other Christian families. Will you pray these blessings over each other with me?

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