Your preschool small group is a great place for kids to not only get their first impressions of their Heavenly Father, but also to get their first impressions of what it means to be the church. As they are beginning to understand that the church is where God’s family gathers, that this is where we all love God and, at least most of the time, as long as we are all sharing, this is where we love each other. One of the best ways to demonstrate love is to serve.
We all know that preschoolers can serve. They can pass out snack. They can collect crayons. The 5 year-olds can help the 3 year-olds with the craft projects. Beyond those, what a great opportunity it could be to let a 5-year-old assist the worship leader in teaching the younger children the motions to a song. Preschoolers want to be independent. “I can do it myself” could easily be the motto of this age group. When you are able to match their abilities with a need that they can meet, they feel important and they learn early that they can be a part of God’s plan no matter what their age.
There are two aspects to this faith development; that everyone should serve others and that everyone can serve others. God has equipped us all, even preschoolers, with the ability to serve. As small group leaders, we can identify those opportunities and move our few into those roles. When we do, we should be sure to call what they are doing by the words we want to be in their faith vocabulary. This is a great time to begin to give these little ones those words that will become foundational in their faith development. In Playing For Keeps, words are one of the six things a kid needs from parents and leaders over time to help give them direction, to help them see where they are going. We can help them understand these words and concepts. “Stephen, would you like to serve the goldfish?” rather than “Stephen, would you like to hand out the goldfish?” helps them learn that when they help others, they are serving, not simply completing a task.
As your few grow, and sooner or later, move out of your small group, they will take with them those beginning lessons of serving. As you begin to “move them out”, you move them to ‘be’ the church. And the younger that they begin to think of themselves as the church, the better the chances are that they won’t feel like it’s so easy to walk away from the church when they are older.
Are there ways that you have moved your preschoolers to “be” the church?
How have you seen them serve others?