Did you know that there are kids who don’t grow up in the church? Is this something you’ve realized? You know this, right? Yeah, totally! Me too.

I know kids aren’t automatically downloaded with the church/Christian/small group lingo when they arrive at church. (Can someone look into making this a thing though?)

Okay, all joking aside, it’s not safe for us to assume that the kids who come into our circles know everything that we think they know.

This realization came to me a few Sundays ago. A girl arrived to my group right after we had already covered the main point of the Bible story and worship. Then, the next week, she arrived there right as we’re transitioning to large group. After I explained the run-down of the day, she caught me while I was about to move swiftly past worship into the Bible Story time.

“What’s worship?” she asked. “Like worship the devil?”

“Um . . . (come on brain think, think, think) . . . no, more like worshipping God.”

“Oh, okay.”

Phew. That was close. I almost had to explain something that I didn’t even, in the moment, know how to explain to a first grade kid. I froze, laughed it off, and moved on to explaining the next segment of our morning. But our exchange stuck with me.

Friends, my heart and brain have been turning this over for the past week. I am grateful to have shared the experience with this little girl who might have just started to realize that, in a world full of darkness, there is light. In our world, she naturally knows the dark, and the hurt, and the pain, and a life without God. Actually, all of our small group kids naturally know these things.

And mistakenly, up to this point, I was making assumptions about what my small group kids inherently know and acting on that. I thought they grew up knowing God, Jesus, love, sunshine, rainbows, unlimited ice-cream sundaes, and happiness—all the good stuff. And I was wrong.

Please remember that our jobs as small group leaders matter. I don’t know every other day outside of Sunday looks like for this little girl. But when I have her show up on Sunday, I want her to be able to safely discover that there is a God who loves her and wants her to learn more about the light, the love, the joy and the peace, and even the worship that can fill her life.

So when it’s time to start the next activities, when our kids mess up or won’t listen to us, remember that every time we show them love and compassion rather than the dark and pain, we can win their hearts little by little.

What are some misconceptions you’ve realized about your role as an SGL? How have you dealt with these realizations? We would love to hear about it.

Written by Molly Bell

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