Most Sunday mornings find me leading my few preschoolers in some amazing adventures of life change – on their part and mine! Recently, I ended up on the other side of the lead small equation – as a family interfacing with small group leaders. On this particular day, three of my grandchildren, who are 18 months, 3 ½ years and 5 years olds were at church with me. The baby had only been to our church once, so he was not going to be familiar with his class or any leaders. There was no small amount of angst with the 3 ½ year old about her class- would she have a girl teacher, who would be in there, what was going to happen. Indeed, that angst was shared by me, as I started to anticipate every single thing that could possibly go wrong!
Our church’s goal is to have consistent small group leaders, but as in all churches, sometimes reality strikes and regular leaders aren’t there, rooms are not open, and last minute shuffling of resources occurs. With that in mind, I was saying some pretty serious prayers on the way to church that I would know the leaders in her class, that her class would be open, that she would feel comfortable, that the youngest child would not have a crying meltdown… and so on.
What relief I experienced when the leader in the toddler room was kind and welcoming, drying tears with offers of an animal cookie. Then a familiar face and an open room for the older girls resulting in a smooth preschooler handoff! After church, all the conversations centered around what they had learned, how fun their leader was, and how silly the “boy leader” was! Bonus points for the great Junior High leader that held my little one’s hand so she wouldn’t be scared!
This very positive experience was a reminder of the value we can bring as we lead small. Our attitudes, how fully engaged we are, the environments in our room – all make a huge difference in what our few experience! What a different scenario it would have been if I had not known the leader, or the room was closed, or the atmosphere was not one of welcoming activities specifically designed to engage children. I’m so grateful for those leaders who saw the value in showing up consistently and being ready for my own personal few!
How can you see through the eyes of first time parents and children? And also the eyes of your “regulars”?