Thursday, January 16, 2014
One of the questions I’m most often asked about small groups by people in my stage of life is “But what do we do with our KIDS?” I understand. I have had many conversations that could hardly be described as such due to the number of interruptions to wipe noses, answer the same questions four times, or give discipline to my children. It hardly seems that I’m going to be in a position to bare my soul to others or think about what God is doing in my life while my kids argue with each other in the same room.
Before I give us all an out (and a break from our kids during small group), let me challenge myself and all of us who have ever asked that question. Our kids are a vital part of our lives - not just in our families but in our personal lives as adults. Very few of the difficult decisions, heart-level struggles, or great joys of my life in the past few years have NOT involved my kids. It’s hard to know me well without knowing my kids. God uses them to show me my sin. He uses them to teach me about himself. He uses them to push me to trust Him more. If you have only ever talked to me with no kids around, you don’t know what much of my life is like when I’m not at work. If you have never seen my wife with three kids around her, you really don’t know her; you’ve seen the exception, not the rule.
So, if small groups is about sharing life together in relationship with each other (and it is!), then my kids have to be a part of that. It’s part of covenant community that we love each other AND each other’s kids. To do that well, we need at a minimum to have met them and ideally to be building some level of relationship with them. You and I might not have the best conversation ever while our kids run around, but we might see things about each other’s hearts and lives in that context that we would otherwise miss. You might catch my anger or shortness with my kids. I might understand your exhaustion better. So, consider how your small group can love each other AND each other’s kids (whatever their ages!).
That said, we do understand that sometimes loving our kids well means mommy and daddy need time with each other and/or other adults. Because the Session of Southwood is committed to the importance of small groups and enabling young families to develop deep relationships, we have set aside budgeted funds to help alleviate the expense of childcare during small group meetings (Go to https://southwood.ccbchurch.com/form_response.php?id=68 to find the reimbursement form). This is a huge blessing for many families, so please use it as you find it helpful to you and your family engaging with your small group.
Southwood small groups handle children a variety of ways. Some share babysitters. Others have older kids watch younger ones. Others get their own individual babysitters. Some even have the children in their group meetings much of the time. All of those are fine; do whatever works best for your group. Just remember that there is money to help with childcare if that supports small groups. And especially remember that wherever the kids are - present, left at home, or grown and gone - they are a significant part of the small group!
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You'll find most of my recommended books available in the Guest Center at Southwood.
You Can Change
How do we mortify sin? How do we address the sin in our lives that reignite like a trick birthday candle we thought we had already blown out of our lives? This is a careful and thoroughly theological book that is hopeful without avoiding honesty. It is practical without being legalistic. It gets to the root of the sinful areas of our lives without offering a prescriptive regimen to hide behind avoiding the grace that has the only true power to teach “us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14
Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp
Small groups would be easy if weren’t for the people in the group! This book will help equip you to see your own sin first and provide the courage and humility to address it in others.
The Heart of a Servant Leader
This is a collection of letters written by Jack Miller to people experiencing real-life concerns and struggles. Through these gracious and honest letters you will learn how to humbly offer to others (and yourself!) hope, repentance, and courage that flows from the truth of the gospel of grace. Though this isn’t a “how to” book full of nifty steps to Your Best Gospel Life Now. It’s a glimpse into the heart of a person who has found food at the Cross, and you watch (and learn) as he humbly points others to the feast.
Comforts From The Cross
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
This 31 day devotional will bring you to the foot of the cross to remember and celebrate the truth of the gospel of grace, and develop skills that will help “inform, free, gladden, and enliven your soul every day.” Becoming proficient in applying the Gospel of grace to our own hearts is a key skill that is well worth our effort to develop.
- Christ PCA - Nashville
Scott Sauls and CPC Staff
Listen to sermons from Senior Pastor Scott Sauls and other CPC pastors at a sister church.
- Lookout Mountain PCA
Joe Novenson and LMPC Staff
Check out sermons by Senior Pastor Joe Novenson and other LMPC pastors at a sister church.
- Steve Brown Etc.
Steve Brown’s unique blend of orthodoxy and controversy, humor and profundity, and a refusal to play religious games will give you permission you have needed to stop being so uptight. And even if it’s for 30 minutes, you just might experience radical freedom, infectious joy and maybe even a bit of surprising faithfulness.
- Tim Chester: reformed spirituality and missional church
Tim has an incredible way of applying the Gospel of grace that is both practical and honest with a consistent skillful affinity to point us to Jesus. He is director of The Porterbrook Institute; a church planter with The Crowded House in Sheffield, UK; and the author of over a dozen books including Total Church and You Can Change.
- Of First Importance
Living Each Day in the Good of The Gospel
Here you will find a growing collection of gospel-centered quotes to help reorient your thoughts toward the splendor and grandeur of the person and work of Jesus.