One of my missions is to challenge the assumption that small congregations have little or nothing to offer children. Here are some more thoughts about how a healthy, loving small church can be a great blessing to families with children. There are good reasons for choosing a small church for your children’s sake. If you become involved with this kind of congregation,
• Your children will have a nurturing extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who will truly be interested in them, encourage them, attend their sports events and performances, and celebrate their milestones. My daughter describes the senior generation at our church as her “grandfriends.”
• Your children will learn how to follow Jesus from observing adult disciples of Jesus, knowing them well, and serving actively alongside them. For the rest of their lives, your children will remember these role models in faith.
• Your children’s concerns will be taken very seriously. The pastor has time to spend with your children and can get to know each child personally.
• Your children’s talents will be welcomed and appreciated. What better place, for example, for a young musician to make his or her debut than in the midst of the gracious circle of a small church?
• Through ongoing relationships, your children and older adults will enrich one another’s lives and learn how to love and care faithfully for one another over the long haul of life.
I sometimes hear people say that they want their children to go to church with a large group of children. While it may be more exciting and more fun to be around a lot of children their own age, school, scouting, sports teams, and other programs meet that social need well. What is rare in today’s society is the opportunity for different generations to mix and become one people in life and mission together. In today’s world people of different ages and life stages are stratified and lead largely separate lives. They even live in separate communities. Congregations are often stratified in the same way. Intergenerational small congregations offer a much-needed alternative that challenges everyone–younger, older, and in-between–to love each other as neighbors.
If you are looking for a church for your family, don’t just automatically drive past a small church. Stop in and take time to get to know the people. Give them a chance to bless you and your children. You may find that God has led you home.
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