In this sense, the Church is more than just a building or a location. The Church is a growing, changing, moving, living being that your few get to be a part of. Never underestimate the importance of letting them pass out Goldfish at snack time, participate in telling the Bible story, or lead worship for younger kids. The options are endless.

Recently the mom of two of my first-graders posted a video on Instagram with the caption, “My girls are playing church today. Hope is gonna preach.”

I loved all 15 seconds of Hope’s sermonette and of course had to comment. “Tell Hope she’s welcome to lead our small group next week!” She hasn’t fully taken me up on that offer yet. But what were Hope’s first words to me this past Sunday?

“I’m going to be your helper today. The whole time.” And she was.

From the start of the service, Hope made sure everyone received a coloring sheet as they sat down on our rug. When we moved on to another activity, she once again passed out supplies. By the time parents arrived for pick up, Hope was ready and waiting for them with the take-home sheets.

I love finding little ways like that to let the kids in my group to serve. Some of my favorite moments are spent watching them dance on stage to lead their peers in worship. I think it is great when a six-year-old still learning to read asks if he can help read riddles to the group from our activity sheet. When I can call on one of my more seasoned group members to join me in making a first-time guest feel welcome and included, I know that new child is going to warm up much more quickly. Sometimes I just focus on inviting the kids to help me wave to group members as they show up at the door.

Over time, I hope these children will see the significance of their role in serving in small group. I want them to know they are an essential part of the church. They aren’t just playing church or playing at church. These kids are called to be the Church.

If Hope wants to keep preaching, that’s fantastic. Save me a front row seat when she takes the stage! I’m not looking for my few to all become pastors someday though. What I do look for are simple opportunities to show them how they can love God and love others. I want to provide chances for them to discover how God has equipped them with unique gifts, talents and passions for ministering to those around them. I want to encourage in them a heart for serving, whether within the walls of the church or not.

All of that can start right on our small group rug.

By Laura Miller

Laura is a small group leader at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. She splits her time on Sundays between caring for sweet little ones in the nursery and hanging out with her favorite first-graders in the world.

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