CHILDREN IN HOUSE CHURCH
========================
 

From: Barry Steinman <76326.3412@compuserve.com>
Date: 04 Oct 95 22:57:45 EDT
Subject: Children in House Church

Some freinds of mine are doing a workshop on ministering to Children in House
Church. The workshop will be at a conference that Fuller is sponsoring in
Southern California in January 1995.

It would really be neat if different ones could share on their experiences on
this. I would like to summarize the best points of the discussion and use as a
passout at the workshop. It would also be nice to have as a resource on line.

Please respond!
 

------------------------------

From: JuliaBanks@aol.com
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 1995 13:50:28 -0400
Subject: Re: Children in House Church

Dear Barry,
Let me tell you what happened with the children in our group last
Sunday--while it's fresh in my mind.
We have two younger members of our church, both girls. One is 2 1/2 years old
and the other 4 months.

The 2 1/2 year old was absent last week. The 4 month old was unusually out of
sorts. She is normally a very placid child. The reason for this was that she
and her parents had been out most of Sunday and she was therefore out of her
routine.
After her parents had tried in vain to pacify her, Mary (not her real name)
went to 'play' with an adult friend who lives in the same block of apartments.
Sometime later, about 2 hours she returned to us because she was crying. Her
mother settled her down and then I took her in her stroller for a walk for
about half an hour before she again began to cry and got distraught.
At that point we returned to the meeting and her mother feed her and put her
to bed, a process that took longer than normal because she was upset.
We had chosen a song to sing with the children and a story to read but it
wasn't really appropriate.
However, given the age of the child, I think we did the best we could to
include her and make her feel loved and welcome. This incident has also raised
for us the question as to whether our current meeting time needs changing in
view of Mary's changing schedule and development.
So that's what we did with the children last week. Julie.

------------------------------

From: JuliaBanks@aol.com
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 1995 14:00:22 -0400
Subject: KIDS

In what ways did you all include the children in your gatherings this weekend?
I'd like to know. Have you come across a tape, book, or article lately that
you've found particularly helpful? Or do you have an idea for HC which you
haven't had an opportunity to put into practice yet but which you think is one
which others of us could use?
BTW thanks to whoever it was who posted the address for the cell church
section on children. I intend to log into that just as soon as I have the
time.
This is what we did last Sunday. Please tell me if you get tired of hearing
about all this.
As mentioned before we have two little girls in our HC. One of four months and
another of almost three years of age.
We met in an apartment last week. After sitting and chatting with each other
for 20 minutes or so we decided to start singing even though the family with
the older of the girls hadn't arrived.
The focus for our gathering was to 'farewell', 'commission', one of our
members who is going out to start a new house church. (This group was formed
when a number of people approached Robert and me about learning to do HC so
that they could go out and start one themselves. We've been meeting together
for almost a year.) The woman who had chosen the hymns had done this with our
farewell in mind. She had chosen a hymn which celebrated God's faithfulness,
'What a friend we have in Jesus', and 'Blessed be the tie that binds'--very
appropriate choices in the circumstances. Denise was greatly appreciative and
moved.
As we were singing, our little one began to get restless and so her mother fed
her and she went to sleep.Then we were invited to gather around the table for
the introduction to the meal. Just as Brenda was about to begin there was a
knock at the door and our other family arrived. They have recently moved and
had miscalculated how long it would take them to drive to the MacMillan's
home.
As usual, Isabella, clung shyly to her mother's skirts for the first ten
minutes after her arrival. During that time Brenda told us of her desire to
find an appropriate image for the occasion but it wasn't until she had been
dividing a potted plant that morning that the right one came to mind. As she'd
been dividing the plant into four, struggling to separate the roots without
damaging them too much, she realized that what she had in her hands was an
image of what was happening in our church. We have been one 'plant', our roots
have become like those of one plant, and now the time had come to separate out
those roots and to make another 'plant'. It wasn't easy and it was painful.
There was no way of 'separating' without causing damage and pain but it was
necessary for new growth to begin. If we stayed together we would become pot
bound and ultimately die.
She then presented Denise with one of the four new plants which she had made
from the original. Then picking up the loaf of bread, she applied the image to
it. As we passed the bread around, breaking off pieces to give to each other
with words of encouragement, other's called to mind passages from the
Bible which drew on the image of plants e.g. 'I am the vine, you are the
branches'. And yes, Isabella was handed a piece of bread by her father, and
joined us in eating the meal--a wonderful vegetarian curry etc. While we ate
we talked with one another, including Isabella, and caught up on some more of
the week's happenings and God's activity in our lives.
After the meal one of the adults drew Isabella onto her lap and read to us all
a wonderful story called, 'John Brown, Rose, and the Midnight Cat' which is
all about welcoming the stranger and change.
While the grown-ups set about presenting their pictures etc. that they'd
brought to make a collage to celebrate Denise, one of the women took Isabella
out onto the balcony and played with her. Later they rejoined the others and
Isabella played on the floor while the group listened to another of their
couples saying that Denise's decision to launch out had prompted some soul
searching on their part. As a result they were asking our blessing on them to
leave us in a couple of weeks to start their new church.
It is hard. We want to see them go. This is what we came together for. The
trouble is you get so attached!
That led to a general discussion on how that affects the rest of us and a
decision was made to pray about it all this week and hopefully we'll come to a
common mind about the future of our group in the next couple of hours.
While all this was going on Isabella was being given attention by the various
members of the group. One of the members then drew her aside while the others
had a time of prayer. It was during this time that Alese woke and joined her
parents.
And all too soon it was time to go home.
Shalom, Julie.

------------------------------

From: TimTJE@aol.com
Date: Thu, 26 Oct 1995 18:01:56 -0400
Subject: COMM:children

Barry,

I've been wanting to get something to you on this. I think making things
"work" for children is crucial - too many memories of the ridiculous and bland
routines of my own childhood Sunday school experiences I suppose.

We have between 4 and 6 children in our group, ages 2 - 9.
We meet on Friday or Saturday night, a typical night looks like this:
If we are having a meal it is at 5:30 or 6:00

7:00 - casual activity, "catch up" conversation, a lot of interaction with the
children. Kids may show a piece of artwork they created that week, or
demonstrate a new dance they learned, or tell of an exciting experience,
adults are sharing similarly at the same time and it just becomes an
interesting whirlwind of related experiences and stories. We've really
learned not to underestimate our children's ability to interact at a very
mature level even as young as 4yrs old. The adult role is not non-sense kid
gibberish or wind em' up with out-of-control rough housing and silliness. We
actually interact on the same level with the kids as we do with each other.
For example, we don't say to each other "...so John how was your week?" and
then turn to a child and put on our "kid" voice and say "...and Danny did you
do anything special with your little handsies this week?" We're careful about
never "talking down" to the children. We can never thank our adult friends
enough for truly being a close friend of our children as well.

8:00 - singing on a fun, light hearted level, every child usually has some
type of small percussion instrument and as adults we use whatever talents we
have. We sing funky little "kids" songs (the kids are really just a good
excuse for us to sing a lot of the songs that we enjoy as much as they do).
Sometimes we dance around or see if we can get into a groove with various
instrumentation and voice parts. The songs we sing range from folk, to
contemporary, original compositions, and classic hymns. We want the children
(and ourselves) to appreciate music and we involve all ages in our musical
extravaganza.

8:30 - An adult will read something describing or relating to God's character
or works as an "intro to worship". The singing continues with a transition to
slower praise songs and more reflective, and prayerful songs. Sometimes an
older child will then read a selection from the Bible and the adults will then
raise questions for the children to participate in discussing, or a child will
raise a question that might stump the adults. Actually, we've found that if
you can phrase an answer in a way that it makes sense to a child, you may
understand it a whole lot better yourself. We take children's questions very
seriously. Have you ever had a child ask you why God doesn't talk back when
they talk to Him?

9:00 - Children go to bed with lots of hugs and kisses, visiting children
sleep in spare rooms. Adults go for a cup of coffee and get ready to hear
what one member has prepared to share and discuss. When the discussion is
complete (yeah right!) someone reads an introduction to communion, we sing
some appropriate songs and share bread and wine. Prayer is part of or may
follow the bread and wine.
It seems at times to be a burden for visiting families to then haul sleeping
or very tired kids back home. I'm not sure how this may evolve as the
youngest children grow older and others have children. For now the children
are an integral part of the first part of the evening and once in a while we
allow them to stay up for the whole night when they beg to sit in on the adult
time. I think that the passionate discussion is very intriguing to them and
the mysteries of prayer and communion are a good experience at any level of
comprehension.

That's where we are with the kids. I'm not sure if I did a very good job of
keeping to the point, this looks more like a comprehensive itinerary than
anything else, a couple more details (like when to stand and when to sit) and
I'd have a church bulletin here!

>From one big kid to another,
Tim Evans

------------------------------

From: Hal Miller <hmiller@smtpgate.read.tasc.com>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 06:46:16 -0400
Subject: KIDS: Doing-about-the-kids

Dear hcdl,

******
P.S. Now that I've written this I realize that I started out wanting to say
about four different things. I've decided just to say one now and save the
rest for another time. Sorry if that leaves a bunch of loose ends here; God
willing, we'll get to pursue a few of them later.
*****

I've finally dug out from all the email that built up while I was travelling
this month (October 1995 made me discover that
50% travel does not make my particular life particularly livable).

A number of interesting threads have been developing while
I've been out, but one of special importance to me is "the kids."

Shall I give you some social context? Here are the factoids:
- - our home church has more kids than adults (11 to 7)
- - Dianne and I had kids late in life and they are young (5 & 7)
- - for nearly 20 years people have posed the question "What do you do about
the kids?" to home churches I've been involved with as if it were a damning
criticism to the whole concept (that is, it often only _sounds_ like a
question)
- - the more I find out about doing-about-the-kids, the less I seem to know;
as Rick Lobsitz puts it, all that I learn makes me confused at a deeper level.

I believe doing-about-the-kids is a pretty crucial question for home churches,
partially because I believe one of the fundamental failures of the "grown-up"
church has been that it has totally misunderstood what it means to
do-about-the-kids. Grown up protestant churches in America have, for the last
century or so, basically ghettoized children.
We've put them in containers like Sunday School or
Children's Church to keep them from having a serious impact on the "spiritual"
tone of our meetings. We have created adults' churches and kept the kids off
to one side.

And, frankly, we've had good reason for doing so. Kids are inherently
disruptive of most of the particular group moods we've come to describe as
"spiritual" or "worshipful." I'm not slamming those group moods or saying they
are undesirable.
I'm simply saying that kids are inherently corrosive of those moods. They
don't "sit still" well or "keep quiet" well or, really, do any of the things
those group moods require for their care and feeding.

Please understand, this has nothing to do with manners
(which kids don't know and _must_ learn) or "behaving"
(which kids don't like but _must_ do). Kids need to have good manners and they
need to behave. Our grown-up vision of church, however, inherently excludes
them (I've come to believe) because it expects a certain aesthetic
appreciation which they, and many adults, do not have.

The response we have usually taken is to contain the kids and their
involvement somehow. Doing-about-the-kids has usually meant a bunch of adults
sitting around trying to think of ways they can containerize their children
effectively.

At my current level of confusion, I think these exclusionary approaches aren't
the right answer. I think that in order to effectively do-about-the-kids, we
have to start with them as an integral part of the church. We cannot try to
retrofit them onto an adult-designed-and-built church and expect them to
thrive. We and our children have to design and build church to support our (we
and our children's) life together before
God.

Here's what this looks like in our home church. We've found that there are a
few activities that we can easily do together and there are a few activities
where our interests (that is, the kids' interests and the adults') diverge so
widely that we need to just respect each other and not bother trying to
understand it. Examples? Of the former, singing. Our kids and our adults can
happily sing together for quite a while, so long as we adults can accept
substantial variations in the emotional direction of things (happy to quiet to
laughing, etc.).

Another example: we can also pray together IF we don't require prayer to be
done in a specifically grown-up way. Our kids seem to like their prayers to be
more rote than our adults do. They also like them to be, um, to the point. If
our adults subject our kids to long complex prayers we have usually stopped
praying _with_ them and started praying by ourselves while they wait for us to
finish.

But there are some things where our kids and our adults have just had to
accept each other without trying to do it together. We enjoy each other in
very different ways, for instance. Our adults enjoy each other by sitting
around and talking, an activity that our kids simply cannot comprehend.
Our adults sit and talk about issues and our lives and what
God is doing or what we want God to do.

Our kids just shake their heads. They don't even believe that doing that is an
activity at all! Our kids would much rather do something exciting like play
with each other. Maybe it's that our adults are "reality" driven and our kids
are "fantasy" driven. I don't know. I do know that in our home church we've
had to agree to disagree about that.

We've also come to do a lot of activities together that we do in different
ways. An example of this is our meals together.
Mostly our adults do the food preparation and our kids do the space
preparation, setting and clearing. Our adults have insisted that we get to
make the food. But our kids have insisted that they define the menu ("What's
that stuff?
Chicken cordon what? Yuk! _I'm_ not eatin' it!")

(Notice an implication of this last point: our adults and our kids "insist on"
things in very different ways. Our adults try to make their points by trying
to convince others that they are right. Our kids try to make their points in a
somewhat less rationalistic way. This is a fascinating and useful topic, and
says a great deal about what it means to build consensus in a church that
includes adults and kids. Or a family that includes adults and kids, for that
matter. But it will have to wait.)

Let me bring all this rambling down to a single point. At my current level of
confusion, I believe strongly that _churches_ must do-about-the-kids. And
_churches_ must do-about-the-adults. We need to jettison the idea that
_adults_ need to do-about-the-kids and then present that doing-about to them
for their consumption (like it or not!).
That mode of doing-about-the-kids will only leave them pushing their plates
away and saying "Yuk!"

One reason I'm in home church rather than grown-up church is that I have a
real voice in what we are and where we go.
Most of our adults are like that. And so are most of our kids.
Doing-about-the-kids is something we all do together.

Sadly, this whole message is pretty preachy because I've talked about just one
thing that I'm not particularly confused about any longer. The things that I'm
now confused about will have to await another day. But I'm looking forward to
others' contributions on the subject.

Regards,
Hal

(progn (defvar *.signature* (list
"Hal" "Miller"
"TASC"
"55 Walkers Brook Drive, Reading, MA 01867"
"(617) 942-2000 X2958"
"FAX (617) 942-7100"
"hmiller@tasc.com"))
(pop *.signature*))
 

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From: ESmith1025@aol.com
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 08:18:39 -0400
Subject: Kids

To HCDL--

I appreciated Hal's post. As usual he is very entertaining and
thought-provoking.

Last fall, Chris & I and 2 other couples ran a "house church experiment."
(For the other 2 couples, their first experience with anything like house
church.) After several months, we decided to call it a day. There were
several reasons why we stopped, but probably the primary one was that we had
6 kids under the age of 6 and only 6 adults. Generally, our meetings were
chaos. Now, part of this had to do with the fact that two of the boys in
question were pretty wild ones... but anyway, I guess it just seems to me that
all philosophy about this issue aside, sometimes you just don't end up with
the right mix of people, kids and/or adults!! Or, you just have too many
kids.

Anybody have any wisdom to share on this question? What have you done when
the kids' needs/demands seem to "rule the meeting"?

- --Emily Smith

------------------------------

From: Christian S Smith <cssmith@gibbs.oit.unc.edu>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 08:32:27 -0400
Subject: Re: Kids

To HCDL:

Picking up on Emily's post, our situation last fall really stretched (sp?)
our ability to deal with kids adequately. Two of the 6 them were just wild
out of control. Their own parents could not control them, sometimes. (That,
too, raised a series of issues about differing parenting styles and
discipline methods. In just starting a house church, it's pretty hard to jump
right into conflicts over how to discipline kids, touchy a subject as that
is.) So, how do you deal with a house church where some kid(s) regularly
destroy property and put the safety of the other children in danger (we
literally began fearing for our daughter's safety)? In the end, between this
problem and others, we just put an end to our proto-h.c. experiment.

So, can h.c. only work for families with reasonably well-adjusted children?
Any experience with this more extreme kind of case?

- - Chris

------------------------------

From: Richard Lobsitz <rmlobsitz@smtpgate.read.tasc.com>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 12:52:17 -0400
Subject: KIDS: Doing-about-the-kids...

Dear HCDL,

I thought that I would throw my 2 cents in on this particular topic (not
that I am not interested in the other topics, but given my time constraints,
I'll have to pick my spots).

I have enjoyed the postings on the "kids issue" and having 3 teenagers I
have been through a lot of stages with them. It seems to me that a practical
way to describe my/our HCs approach to the kids is -- "Start with the end in
mind". Ask ourselves, what do we want our kids to take away from the HC
experience after x years? Then be sure to include activities in HC that work
toward those goals. Here are a few (two) examples:

For us one of the goals has been to form relationships between the
adults and kids that will stand the test of time and be a support in times of
need. This has proved especially helpful when the primary relationship between
the parents and children is being stressed.
Therefore, the kinds of things that occur in HC have to do with building
_real_ relationships between the kids and the other adults. One-on-one or
small group activities work well here and it turns out it doesn't really
matter what the activity is, as long as the adult and child are relating on an
honest/authentic level. Kids are real good at telling the difference between
an adult's "good intentions" and a real interest. Over time, special
relationships will grow between adults and kids, but not between every adult
and every kid, so don't force matches that don't work.
The strength of these relationships can be substantial. This has been
driven home particularly hard this week as Craig (Schoelles) one of our long
time HCers is leaving to move to KY. Our daughter Elizabeth (14) has been
crushed that he will no longer be a part of her life. He has been a wonderful
example of a strong Christian man (warts and all) that has cared a great deal
for her. It provides her with a role model that is different and hopefully
complementary to the one I try to provide.

Another goal we have is to help the children grow in their understanding
of God and the role that He plays in their day-to-day lives. We have tried
many things to make God real to the kids, story telling, acting out plays,
sharing about needs and answered prayers and the like. We try to be open with
the kids about how God deals with us and encourage them to share in these
discussions.
Our HC has mostly older kids (12-16) and teenagers are particularly
vulnerable to "getting bored". So it is important to continue to touch base
with them to see if what's going on is relevant to them. If it isn't then
change the direction to pull them in or let them split off and do something
they want to do.
One Sunday I discovered a technique for pulling them in that worked
unusually well. I was facilitating the meeting and got strong non-verbal
messages from the kids that they were "getting bored". So I redirected the
meeting to focus on them by discussing an issue that they would be interested
in. I didn't know what would be a good issue so I simply posed the question to
them, "Why are you here today?" and asked each of them explain to the group
why they were there. The answers were fascinating and showed quite a depth of
understanding. The ensuing discussion lasted over an hour. It allowed us as a
group to discuss issues and feelings that were on the hearts of kids and
relate them to ways that we as adults feel and how God ministers to us on a
day-to-day basis.
Other simple questions that can evoke discussion are "What do you worry
most about?", "What would you like to change most about your
mother/father/brother/sister/school/....", "What do you want to be when you
grow up", etc. Discussing things in a supportative group environment will help
the kids to understand the context of their lives and help them to work
through some of the difficult issues.

I guess that this turned into 10 cents and I'm not done yet.
Of well, I told the two stories that came quickly to mind. I know there are
about four others, but they will have to wait for another day.

Shalom,
Rick Lobsitz

------------------------------

From: OIKOSKIRK@aol.com
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 1995 10:03:53 -0400
Subject: Children

Dear all,

I have been very interested in the conversation referring to children in the
house church. I, myself, consider this very important as I spend most of my
time with children. My husband and I have three children(Amanda-11,
Rebecca-7, and Caleb-16 months). I chose to only work a few hours a week so
that I can be totally engulfed in the children and all their wonderful
activities. I say this only so everyone understands where I am coming from.
We have been meeting together for years with other believers and for many
years, among our friends, we were the only ones with children. We both feel
that it is important to remember "children will be children and we should let
them be children". We shouldn't expect them to be "adults" or
"theologians".
From our experience, when we meet together, we start with a shared meal
and prayer with all children and adults. After that we usually have a short
time of "what's going on with everyone"as a group. After that we may do many
different things(prayer, singing, reading the Bible, sharing, and
testimonies). Our meetings are usually different. So go the children.
Sometimes the children stay in with us to sing and pray. Sometimes the
children stay in with us all night. Most of the time, we let the children be
children. They may all go outside and play together. They may go to another
room we have(right off our living room) to play games, do puzzles, color, or
just talk. Basically, they are off building relationships with their peers.
Exactly what the adults should be doing together. Yes, it might not be as
"spiritual" as the adults, but I think sometimes just as important.
In our fellowship our normal mixture is 22 people with 9 of them being
children and 3 of those being under the age of 16 months. This sometimes can
be confusing. It sometimes can be hectic. But without doubt, it is always a
blessing(even for Larry and Joyce). They are a couple that have been with us
for 3 1/2 years. Both are in their fifties, with all children grown.
Brother Larry has a hearing problem which sometimes with the loudness of the
children can be a difficulty. We try to be sensitive to each other needs.
The children fuss some, if they fuss to much we take them out for a while
until they calm down.
The blessing comes when we see our son Caleb, and his "buddy"
Joshua(only two months younger than Caleb), kissing and hugging on each other,
loving each other to death. They are building a loving relationship, from the
way they share their toys to the way that they try to sing and dance with each
other. They are worshipping Christ in the manner that they are able. Should
we question their sincerity because of their lack of physical maturity? Of
course not!
I also think it is important for our children to build strong and loving
relationships with those adults we fellowship with. Our children often call
the others, uncle or aunt. It is wonderful to see them have such depth of
relationship with other Christians. They also aren't afraid to call things
the way they are and sometimes have a unique way of rebuking someone without
them even knowing it. They are purely a joy to me in their simplicity of
heart and lack of motives. They are truly a gift!! We have found that with
the new arrivals, we as a fellowship, have had a special evening to thank the
Lord for His gift in our midst. We also have had group picnics, bonfires,
outings, weekends at the Holiday Inn, and almost anything else you can think
of that's fun.
Recently, something happened in our fellowship that took me by surprise.
Someone we have known for awhile, but hadn't really seen much has started
fellowshipping with us. He has been having a lot of difficulties. One night
he was especially down, and as my husband was talking and praying with him on
the phone, I found our oldest daughter very concerned about this persons
welfare. She (in her own way) was making her request made known to God and
praying for him to feel better. This is what can happen with children in home
meetings.
I know I've been long. Forgive me for that. But I feel that God only
gives us these precious gifts for a time to cherish and nuture them into His
prescence and many times we as adults only break those fragile beings, shatter
them, and destroy them until He can find a way to repair them.
Thanks for listening!
In His love,
Lori and Chris

------------------------------

From: JuliaBanks@aol.com
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 1995 01:35:18 -0400
Subject: Re: Kids

G'day All,
I've only once been in H.C. with a child who came close to your description.
This was an older boy of about 8 when he first came to H.C. and 10 when we
moved on to start a new group.
BTW this child later proved to be (sadly) psychologically disturbed and was
institutionalized when he was in his early teens.
To be truthful, the lad frightened me at times. He reminded me of the boy in
'the Innocents' (Henry James', 'Turn of the Screw'). There were occasions when
he would get a certain expression in his eyes that made my blood run cold.
However, it was one of those situations where he could be so charming and
engaging one minute and naughty almost beyond belief another. He was also like
this at home and school, and his parents were extremely concerned about him.
As I remember it there were at least three other boys in the group, two of
them slightly older, and two little girls. Perhaps because he was only one,
rather than two, he didn't prove to be too disruptive. He was frustrating,
demanding, annoying, and trying, not only to the adults but to the other
children, particularly, the boys. I remember we used to have to spend a fair
amount of time each week after our gatherings helping our two to process the
events of the day. I also remember that it was hard not to heave a sigh of
relief if the boy was unable to attend. Having said all that though I don't
know that he was any more difficult to learn to live with than some adults
we've churched with. It wasn't an easy time but I think I learned quite a bit
about loving the unlovely/lovable. And
I think, too, that in his own way he responded well to the love and the
discipline with which the group enfolded him. The group worked together to try
to find ways of 'welcoming', 'including' etc. this child, and we regularly
prayed for God's strength and guidance.
But this was all a long time ago, and I've probably forgotten most of what it
was like.
Chris and Emily, I think, as you've said yourselves, that if the group had
been established you'd have had a better chance of establishing some sort of
guide lines for behavior in the group. The fact that the adults/parents didn't
know one another well enough to trust one another would have made a big
difference.
I'll be very interested to hear if others have faced similar situations.
Julie.
BTW I'm really enjoying the conversation we've started about welcoming
children into HC. As you know it's a topic dear to my heart.

------------------------------

From: "McBride-Luman, Kevin (G) HIST" <luman@histr.sscnet.ucla.edu>
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 95 09:26:00 PST
Subject: COMM: children

Dear Fellow Home-churchers,

I am very glad to see the current discussion on children and house church.
This is a topic that I asked about 6 or more months ago, and am still very
interested in. It is great to hear more views and responses and experiences.
Marian and I do not have any children, but hope to start having children in
the next year or two. We are very much concerned about this topic, and agree
heartily with the views expressed by several that children must be an
integral part of the house-church rather than set aside as in standard brand
churches.

I will continue to "listen in" and read with interest. Thanks to all who
have written in about this!

Kevin J. McBride-Luman

------------------------------

From: Zootron@aol.com
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 1995 10:06:13 -0500
Subject: Child's play

A hearty "thank you" for all of the posts that described your various
philosophies regarding kids. I was appreciative of the observations regarding
the different ages of kids. Our problem with one of our housechurches (we are
a network of several) is . . . well. . . what suggestions do you have for
dealing with LOTS of kids. Fifteen kids. All ages, infant to high school. Two
of our families have five kids, one four, one three, and two families have
two a piece. Let's see now.....10+4+.....good grief! That's 21!!! I hate to
say it, but we've got enough for a Sunday School (a thousand pardons for the
term). Suggestions?
Personal experience?

I will be in the Los Angeles area (Gardena) visiting with The Church of the
Servant King for the next six days so if I don't respond to the posts until
next week that's why. I will check the mail as soon as I am back in town.

Thank you one and all. I trust that all of us together are more intelligent
than any of us alone in these matters.

In His steps
Dan Mayhew

The Summit Fellowships
Portland, Ore
'
PS- May our hearts be abandoned to our God, turned toward our brethren,
anticipating our future, and be at peace with our past. Forgiveness does not
make the offender right, but it does make us free.

------------------------------

From: JuliaBanks@aol.com
Date: Thu, 2 Nov 1995 12:07:55 -0500
Subject: Re: Child's play

Dear Dan,
I hope this doesn't sound like a cop-out from answering your question but
'how large is this house church?' Many years ago in another galaxy (as
someone else quotes) I knew of a house church which had a similar challenge.
In the end they decided to multiply (to become two groups) because that was
the only way they could see to do the right thing by both the children and the
adults.
Shalom, Julie.

------------------------------

From: scrisp@pcug.org.au (Stephen Crisp)
Date: Fri, 3 Nov 1995 15:11:13 +1100
Subject: kids

Dear Lori,

Thank you for your post about children in home church. I especially
identified with your story of your oldest daughters prayers and concern for
a home church member:

>I found our oldest daughter very concerned about this persons
>welfare. She (in her own
>way) was making her request made known to God and praying for him to feel
>better.

I think it is really good when your kids begin interacting with God on their
own initiative and begin to give out some of the Christian love that they
have received from the adults in their lives.

It seems like my 13 year old daughter, Alice, is just beginning to discover
God herself and I feel quite excited about it. This is how she told me about
it:

Alice and I were talking about one of her friends who is going through a
stage where she says that God doesn't exist and even if he did, he wouldn't
be interested in our small lives. Alice then told me that she had gone
through a stage like that but now she really did believe in God and His
concern for her. She had experienced a few difficulties at school and in
the midst of them, she had had an experience of grace, where God put ideas
into her head and removed obstacles from her path so she could see her way
clear to act. In the light of these experiences her doubts had disappeared.
 

This was an amazing revelation for me and it really put me in my place.
There was I straining to think of ways to introduce God to my kids and
thinking how difficult it was and all the time Alice and God were very
adequately, working things out between the two of them!

It has taken a whole weight off my mind. Now I think that God just requires
us to do very ordinary things for our kids and we can leave the extraordinary
effort to him, in his own time.

If I were to make a list of these ordinary things I think they would be
something like this;

* to let them know a little of our own Christian walk, but probably not
too much. Kids can find this sort of stuff incredibly boring if adults
drone on and on about it.
* introduce some of the bible stories to them so they get an idea what
God is like
* show them lots of Christian love
* let them know that we respect their ability to find their own Christian
path

I feel very lucky to be in a home church because it is a place where all
these things can be done without much difficulty. They can also be done at
home.

regards Jill Crisp

------------------------------

From: Zootron@aol.com
Date: Tue, 7 Nov 1995 14:37:30 -0500
Subject: Child's Play

Ahoy, Julia, et. al.,

Just got back from California. Oy! What a boatload of e-mail!

Julia responded to my post about our large number of kids:

>I hope this doesn't sound like a cop-out from answering your question but how
large is this house church?

Not a cop-out at all, Julia. The answer is, "too large." We expect the group
to divide sometime after the first of the year when a member gets his house
ready for a group to gather there. That still means a large number of kids.
As some others have commented, there is this tension between making the church
"kid centered" and giving the parents a chance to "take a break" from
parenting while interacting with the brethren. Larger numbers of kids only
complicate the issue.

Some things we've considered:

1. Since we are a network, pray that one of the other churches might consider
providing care for the kids as a ministry. Sounds like we are trying to get
rid of them, huh?
2. Rotate caring for the younger ones within the group. That's what we're
doing, though the rotation is pretty one-sided among a willing (definitions
of "willing" vary) few. 3. After a time of gathered worship, release the
kids to the great outdoors.
This is Portland, Oregon, here. We have a generic forecast from October to
June: mostly cloudy with frequent showers.
4. The long awaited epiphany.

Thanks for the posts so far and others yet to come.

Shalom!

Dan Mayhew
The Summit Fellowships
Portland, Oregon

------------------------------

From: phorst@postoffice.ptd.net (Phil Horst)
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 1995 09:44:02 -0500
Subject: Kids

At the prompting of Julia Banks' kind questions, I will respond a bit about
children in our house church.

First, I thought it would be interesting to ask my children (ages 6 and 11)
what they liked or disliked about house church. They were not too eager to
spend much time thinking about it. But they did say they like our church and
they do seem to be happy to participate in it.

I will describe the last Sunday. That day I was a time when we did a good job
of integrating all in a good way.

The topic for the day was peace-making and we used four parables or teachings
of Jesus as the basis. The method was to read the passage, act it out in a
variety of ways and then talk about it - particularly trying to see/understand
how Jesus' audience would have heard it and understood it.

I think this day I was able to be involved mentally, emotionally and
physically. Not only me, but I think all there - children and adults. The
acting out of the stories was probably where the children plugged in. But it
also provided the means for all to become involved emotionally and physically.
 

An example of what I mean by emotional involvement is this. I was asked to be
help act out the short teaching "if a man sues your for tunic let him have
your cloak as well". By taking in part in acting out what this would have
meant for a person of that time, I, and everyone there including the children,
were able to literally see and feel what this meant.

Other parts of the worship time - we did a sort of celebrative song and dance
while we gave our tithes/offerings; we had a time of singing with anyone
choosing songs.

In general, this approach is typical. Although I think it does not always
come together so well. At various times I think we do better with the
children, other times maybe be more adult oriented and the kids look rather
bored.

We don't have any fixed resources or particular bible translations that we
use.

For our singing times, we have all grown to like very much the hymnal recently
published by the Mennonite Church. An effective way we have involved the
children in singing is to pick a song we want to learn and use it every Sunday
for a month or two. This allows the children to learn it - even those who
can't read.

We don't have any thing like Sunday School. I personally think that our
family is an appropriate place to learn the bible stories and to learn of our
(parent's) faith. To this end I and my wife have made bedtime a time to read
bible stories and to pray together. This often becomes a good time for our
children to ask their often delightful questions about how to understand this
"stuff".

I hopes this gives some sense of our approach to this. I don't think we have
arrived and we continue to think about ways of helping each person to find
what they need for growth and nurture. For adults, we meet once a week with
only adults which provides time for more adult level converstion, sharing and
learning.

Love and Grace to all on this journey.
Phil Horst
611 East End Ave
Lancaster PA 17602 phorst@postoffice.ptd.net
(717) 295-1286

------------------------------

From: Hal Miller <hmiller@smtpgate.read.tasc.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 09:05:39 -0500
Subject: KIDS: Doing-with-the-kids, Part II

(Editors Note: My previous post in this thread was called
Doing-about-the-kids, from the question that people always ask, "What do you
do about the kids?" I should have said what they ask is "What do you do _with_
the kids?" The reason is that this question has the answer built into it. What
we need to do is to do-WITH-the-kids. Those who read my previous post will
know what I mean. And anyone who was foolish enough to have saved Part I
should do a global search and replace of
"about-the-kids" with "with-the-kids." It's more poetic and it captures my
meaning better.)

This past Sunday I had an experience that I think taught me something very
important about doing-with-the-kids. Something unusual happened.
No, that's not strong enough; something _unprecedented_ happened.

Sunday was our network meeting (when all the home churches in our network get
together at one place), and it was my home church's turn to be responsible for
facilitating the meeting and providing a teaching. I agreed to teach and was
going to do something typically erudite, complex, and detached fro real life.
But one member of my home church suggested that, since the last two network
meetings had had erudite and complex teachings, I do something that included
the kids.

I was crushed, but agreed that it was the right thing to do. After all, our
home church has made what I thought were substantial strides over the last two
years in including the kids. We call it "integrated bible study" since we do
our teachings in a way that integrates all ages, but that's another subject.
In any case, "including the kids" became my job in preparing the teaching.

My subject was "community" and church (and the teaching was inspired by some
of the things on hcdl recently). But I began by helping the whole network make
four lists:
- - what I like most about church
- - what I like least about church
- - what I would like to do more of
- - what I would like to do less of.

The under-8s went first and said what they liked and disliked about the way we
did church. Then the under-16s went, then it was a free-for-all.
Naturally, one of the things the under-8s and under-16s put on their "like
least" list was teachings.

Don't worry. I wasn't the least bit offended. But it was a rollicking good
discussion, and I believe we came to some helpful things about what
God is doing with us here and now. Then we prayed and ate and went home.

And then the unprecedented thing happened.

I got a phone call from one of the kids. The message was: I really enjoyed
your teaching. Thanks. Good bye.

Now, in twenty-five years of teachings that had never happened to me.
Oh, the grownups are normally good natured and make kind comments about how
they learned something or were touched or ministered to, etc.
Sometimes, at least, they are sincere about it. But NEVER had I heard that
kind of praise, unsolicited, from a kid. Pretty fluky.

Later in the day, I got a second phone call from an unrelated kid. The message
was the same: I really enjoyed your teaching. Thanks. Good bye.

I was flattened. Not flattered -- flattened. That second phone call changed it
from a fluke to a landslide consensus in my mind. What on earth had I done to
bring out this kind of response? It was especially mystifying in that our home
church had been working on including the kids in teachings and pitching them
to be inclusive for years.

So I began to ponder, and here's what I think I'm learning: there's a big
difference between doing something that includes the kids and including the
kids in doing something.

It's the difference between participating as an actor and participating as a
director. In our "integrated Bible studies" we grownups had picked the
subjects and made certain that we drew the appropriate morals from the
Bible stories we used (since Bible stories are notoriously dangerous from a
moralist's point of view). We had gone out of our way to include the kids, but
we had never included them in setting the agenda.

I think the thing the kids picked up on in my teaching last Sunday was that
they were really getting to _direct_ the course of things. We weren't just
presenting them with something they could participate in; we were opening
ourselves to learning with them by learning _from_ them.

I'm still trying to process this. I don't quite know what it means for our
ongoing life together. But I do know that I'm not going to be quite so
complacent about thinking we have _included_ the kids just because we have
done something that requires their participation. I think they want
(and deserve) a bigger role than that.

I know that as a parent, one of my constant struggles is to remind myself to
really _listen_ to my kids. They need direction and discipline, but the danger
we grownups face is getting trapped in that directing role so that we can't
effectively do-WITH our kids because we're so busy doing-FOR them. I'm
wondering if we fall into the same patterns as churches.

It's food for thought anyway.

Regards,
Hal

(progn (defvar *.signature* (list
"Hal" "Miller"
"TASC"
"55 Walkers Brook Dr., Reading, MA 01867"
"(617) 942-2000, X2958"
"Fax: (617) 942-7100"
"hmiller@tasc.com"))
(pop *.signature*))

------------------------------

From: JuliaBanks@aol.com
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 14:15:26 -0500
Subject: Re: KIDS: Doing-with-the-kids, Part II

Dear Hal,
I _loved_ your post. Suddenly my heart sings!
I was reminded of a slogan I saw in Philadelphia: When we listen, people talk.
May God teach us how to listen to each other whether we are 2 years old or
92. Julie.

------------------------------

From: JuliaBanks@aol.com
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 14:58:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Kids

Dear Phil,
Many thanks for taking the time to relate your experiences with your children.
It sounded like a fun time as well as a good learning time.
What were the parables you used? Did they all 'work' as well as each other?
If you were doing it again what would you do differently?
Finding songs that are appropriate for the age group of the children in a
group can sometimes be difficult. Have you found some that your children
particularly like to sing?
Many thanks, Julie.

------------------------------

From: JuliaBanks@aol.com
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 14:58:13 -0500
Subject: KIDS--songs

Greetings All!
A couple of weeks ago, in Price Club of all places, I bought a tape of 'Wee
Sing Bible Songs', for the princely sum of $3:99. It comes with a book
containing the music and the words. Maybe you wouldn't want to use all the
songs but there is a large selection of 'standards' appropriate to the age
group from 0-8 years of age.
Songs like:
Jesus loves the little children
Jesus loves me
Deep and Wide
Silver and Gold Have I None
Little David Play on your Harp
His Banner over me is Love
Praise Him, Praise Him
Standin' in the need of Prayer
He's got the whole world in His Hands
Rejoice in the Lord Always to name but a few.
Shalom, Julie.

------------------------------

From: phorst@postoffice.ptd.net (Phil Horst)
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 21:49:03 -0500
Subject: Re: Kids

Julie Banks wrote...
>Many thanks for taking the time to relate your experiences with your
>children. It sounded like a fun time as well as a good learning time.
>What were the parables you used? Did they all 'work' as well as each other?
>If you were doing it again what would you do differently?

The passages that I can remember were just a few short teachings. These were
"if someone hits you on the right cheek, turn the other..." , "if someone sues
you for your cloak, give your coat as well..." and "if someone forces you to
go one mile, go the second...". I think there was another one, but the fact
that I can't remember it now probably means it didn't work so well.

I think we did a good job at shedding some new light on the meaning and intent
of these sayings and thus increasing our understanding of Jesus.
What to do differently? Perhaps spend more time on bringing in the question
of how am I going to respond to what I learned of Jesus, or how am I going to
be transformed by what I just heard, saw, felt, thought...

We also just did some role playing. My 11 yr old and his friend were asked to
pretend they were having an argument and a third kid tried to mediate it.
I had to chuckle - I didn't know what would happen ahead of time, but my son
told me that if he started doing something in church, I should not
interfere... that it would be ok.

>Finding songs that are appropriate for the age group of the children in a
>group can sometimes be difficult. Have you found some that your children
>particularly like to sing?

Judging by the songs the children choose when given a choice, they seem to
like many of the hymns we sing from the new hymnal (A Worship Book published
by Mennonite Publishing House and some others). Each child seems to have his
or her favorite. I think I can predict what each will choose.

Some of the favorites are #596 "On Eagle's Wings", #226 "You are Salt for the
Earth O People", #614 "In the Bulb There is a Flower", #580 "My Life
Flows On in Endless Song". #511 "God, who touches earth with beauty". It may
seem odd that the children choose hymns. But as I said earlier, we have tried
hard to help them learn these. I think the lack of a strong music leader is
reflected in what we choose to sing.

We have also put together a songbook of chorus's and other more
"contemporary" songs. But I found we have not used it very much.

Hope this is of some value...

I appreciate your interest Julie. I would also like to hear how things unfold
when you talk about house churchs with other church leaders. This sounds
wonderful.

In Christ
Phil Horst
611 East End Ave
Lancaster PA 17602 phorst@postoffice.ptd.net
(717) 295-1286

------------------------------

From: rbanks@fuller.edu (Robert Banks)
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 1996 22:58:54 -0800
Subject: KIDS/PARENTING

Greetings,

I've just read a book entitled: 'Wonderful Ways to Love a Child' written by
Judy Ford and published by Conari Press, Berkeley, 1995.

I saw the book in one of the local secular bookstores on Monday and since it
looked like it was worth the money ($9.95) I bought it and have since read it.

In many ways it is an excellent book. It is written in easily digestable
chunks so that busy people will not find it too demanding. It's succinct and
to the point. There are many useful and wise suggestions for showing our
children that we love them. I doubt that anyone could read it and not profit
from it.

My struggle as always with parenting books is that I come away feeling that if
only we could do it all right our children would be perfect, not have any
problems. This author alludes on the way through to the fact that we mess up,
don't always get it right, need to ask our children's forgiveness, etc. But
I'm left with the feeling that if only I had tried harder
.......... I'm left feeling guilty and there is little effort made to help me
deal with my guilt.I long to read a parenting book which addresses those
feelings of inadequacy up-front, that starts from the premise that we're not
perfect people and we're going to pass on the sins of the fathers etc., and
then attempt to help us realistically deal with our sense of failure.

Another of my complaints about most parenting books is that parents are left
to bear the responsibility for their children's wholeness. There is little or
no recognition that our children are affected by other influences--child
minders, grandparents, teachers, friends, our culture--and that these
influences can be both positive and negative. It takes a village......

However, having said all that I do warmly recommend the book. It provides an
acceptable check list of things we can try to do to show our children that we
love them. And there are few things more important than that.

Julie.

------------------------------

From: Zootron@aol.com
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 1996 10:11:42 -0500
Subject: Re: KIDS/PARENTING

Julie-
Thanks for the suggestion on the book on parenting. As the current parent of a
14 year old boy, I can tell you that the misgivings about having done it right
are in full flower. We have just completed a very difficult period living with
some people who held the "environment is everything" model of child
development. This childless couple are under the impression that if parents
will just do it all correctly out will pop a wonderful, compliant human being.
I was trained thoroughly in that viewpoint when studying to be a teacher and
after teaching for awhile I abandoned much (not all) of that idea. After
raising three children I am confident that the gene pool holds some surprises
for unwary parents.
Here's the caution for house churchers: treat one another with gentleness
and compassion when poking into one another's family life. He who carelessly
sticks his head into a lion's den may get it bit off! This is particularly
true of brethren who, having been well schooled in the above environmental
attitudes, conclude that parenting challenges must be the fault of parental
failure of some kind, and then say so. Certainly we are to admonish one
another and take a loving interest in one another, but tact and diplomacy
(Hal's simple rule comes to mind here) are vital communication tools in the
task.
I don't know if there's a thread here, but I've said my piece. BTW,
Julie, I may look for the book. Sounds interesting.

Shalom!
Dan Mayhew
The Summit Fellowships
Portland, Or

------------------------------

From: cxa@libserver.canberra.edu.au (Craig Ashhurst)
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996 11:12:14 +1100
Subject: Re: KIDS/PARENTING

Dan,

I agree with much of your post (12/2). However we have a couple in our
church with two kids (4 & 1), and it seems very clear to us that their lack of
discipline (in the interest of _love_) is causing two problems: exhaustion for
the mother, and disruption of our group (due to attention-seeking behaviour of
the 4 y.o.).

Question: is there a role at all for questioning how others bring up their
children?

The issue is more complicated by the fact that we don't have kids, so this
couple feel that we have no right to comment.

What do others think?

Pip

------------------------------

From: Zootron@aol.com
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 09:31:09 -0500
Subject: Re: KIDS/PARENTING

Dear PIP-

Your concern over the unruly kids in the group and the parenting style that
may be contributing to their behavior is right in the center of the problem
that I referred to. We have a similar situation (maybe two) here. So much
depends upon the trust that is in the group and whether the parents feel that
"advisors" are qualified. My observation is that coming at the issue from a
positive rather than a negative approach is vital. The parents may well be at
their wits end so a reproof of their parenting style may awaken defensiveness,
guilt and perhaps even anger. Pointing out weaknesses doesn't
go as far as a suggestion of how to strengthen style. It's the difference
between:
"Your kids are certainly taking advantage of you! You should
have been much stricter with your discipline when they were younger."
OR
"Kids sure can be a handful, can't they? Let me know if there's
anything I can do to help. There are times mine make [made] me want to
scream!"

>From my observation, the way people are approached in their family
relationships is extremely important. Diplomacy is everything. For that reason
I would think that to have a couple who are raising or have raised a family
would be the best choice to come along side the struggling parents, assuming
that the mentors realize that their kids may be a lot different than the ones
they are trying to help.

There's probably much more that could be said, but I'll leave that to others
on the list.

Shalom!

Dan Mayhew
The Summit Fellowships Portland, Or.

------------------------------

From: "Joann M. Hnat" <jmh@shore.net>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 10:17:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: KIDS/PARENTING

I agree with what Dan had to say in response to Pip's post. One thing I
would add, though, is that I think you can work on the disruptive behaviors
by going at it from the point of etiquette, or "house rules", rather than
directly addressing the root problems.

For example, the host(s) can say things like, "I'm sorry, Billy, but in our
house, we don't allow people to run up and down the stairs," "Sally, we don't
like for people to yell and scream in our home. Would you please use your
'indoor voice'?" "Robin, we have a rule in our house that people must stay at
the dinner table until they are excused."

I'm sure that some people will think this approach is deceptive, or wimpy, or
whatever. But I think it's perfectly valid. You're not telling the parents
that the way they raise their children is wrong. You're simply pointing out
that different people have different ways of living, and that they may have
to adjust their behavior depending on where they are.

Another reason I like this approach is that it treats the children as
participants in the meeting, which they are. It allows you to address a
child directly, rather than going through his or her parents. If we don't
allow adults to consistently do things to disrupt our meetings (and I *hope*
we don't), why should we allow children to do so? (I take it as a given, of
course, that what counts as "disruptive behavior" from a child is different
from that of an adult.)

.. Joann

------------------------------

From: Christian S Smith <cssmith@gibbs.oit.unc.edu>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 10:28:48 -0500
Subject: Re: KIDS/PARENTING

Good point Joann. However:

I have observed some parents in a house church setting, not SCC but
elsewhere, who literally had almost no control over their kids (or failed to
exercize what control they might have). The kids would listen to other adults
for a while (which was embarassing to the parents), but not too long before
they would start again pushing toward destroying things and endangering other
children. Virtually incorrigible (sp?) 2 and 4 year olds. It appeared that,
for that situation to work, it was going to take some real deep, heavy
dealing with the situation; that's not what happened. Again, probably an
outlier case, but real nonetheless. The "house rules" approach only made the
situation all the more painfully difficult for the parents, who were really
great people, btw.

Just some more data....

- - Chris

------------------------------

From: ashhurst@education.canberra.edu.au (Craig Ashhurst)
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 1996 09:29:33 +1100
Subject: Re: KIDS/PARENTING

Hi all,

I've seen a lot of wisdom in the above comments, and cringe with
acknowledgement of Chris's experience. Joann's thoughts reminded me of
something our group did do, with some effect. One night after being driven
mad by her kids eating food and dropping it and wiping their hands over
everything in our lounge room, I discussed the problem with our group after
this family had left. We agreed (I think in line with Joann's ideas) that we
would ask the children (all of them) to sit and eat at the dining table, as
this would at least contain the food spillage somewhat.
This has worked to some extent, with minimal embarrassment to the parents
(I think). It still gripes me a little that this behaviour is explained by
these parents to their kids as pretty much that Craig and I have a bit of a
problem with cleanness. But I guess I can live with that.

As an aside, we have found a similar approach (embarrassingly) has worked with
the father of this family. He does next to nothing to help his wife with
housework, or changing nappies etc. One night we had dinner with them, and
we washed up for his wife while she made dinner, while her husband read the
paper! Aaarrgh!

Our church (on the same night as the kids discussion) decided that while we
were meeting, we would just give this man 'jobs' to do, to encourage him to
pull his weight. E.g. "Could you get the tea and coffee, Joe?"(Not his real
name, needless to say), or throw him a cloth, and ask him to wipe down the
table. The really embarrassing times are when this occurs in his own home.
However I think it's only embarrassing for the rest of us; it seems
completely lost on him.

So far, we're fairly happy with this approach. At least it's the best we can
do, since honest discussion with him has thus far proved fruitless.
"I'm just eccentric" is his defence.

Just a few comments of experience, backing up Joann's ideas. Any others?

------------------------------

From: Kevin Knox <macknox@atlanta.com>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 1996 00:40:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: KIDS/PARENTING

Hey all,

If you can raise children, you can untie the Gordian Knot with one hand tied
behind your back! It is the most difficult thing a young couple could
possibly find to do (of course, it is simple as apple pie for the
grandparents!) Praise the Lord that ours continue to be a joy to have around
(and perhaps that wooden spoon--you know the one). When Paul set the
behaviour of a man's children as a primary measuring stick for his ability to
love the Church, he knew what he was doing.

As an aside, if the children have troubles, and someone might need to be
spoken to (within the outlines of Dan's post), it is the father who is to
blame. Whatever else "head" might mean, it means responsibility, and when
Paul gives men instructions in Ephesians, he is very straightforward--do not
provoke your children to wrath. I'm not saying that both parents don't have
to act as a team. I'm just saying that the father seems to be held
accountable for what the team has accomplished. If he is the head, then his
wife's strength and compassion should both flow from a supply provided by her
husband. He should then be able to discipline his children without using the
cheap and ugly methods that are so common that even Paul knew about them.
Those arbitrary and over-powering methods that men can slip into do nothing
if not provoke their children to resentment.

But that is not what I wrote to say. I wrote to say something
controversial--as if what I did just write wasn't. Our children do not come
to our meetings. I didn't say that they aren't allowed into our meetings.
They simply don't come. They are given the choice, and seizing it, they
choose to be with each other, and we cheer them on. We all live within two
small blocks of each other, and the little'uns see each other umpteen times a
week, and they never tire of each other. Talk about learning some
socialization skills! They are allowed their conflicts up to that certain
point, and then they get a little help working them out. Somehow through it
all, they would still rather be with each other, than with us, and all our
adult excitement and humor. It strikes us as healthy.

About once a month, some one of the children will want to come, and he or she
will, and then the poor little bugger is cured for another few months. Of
course, one of the boys just reached 15, and decided that he wanted to start
meeting with us, and he has been for two months now. His father once said,
"If you give a child Christ in small enough doses for a long enough time, you
will vaccinate him against the Lord." It would seem that his opinion has
been validated. I certainly liked it.

Well, I missed out on the last kids thread--not this one, I guess. Tally-ho

Kevin

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 15 Feb 1996 09:29:33 +1100
To: hcdl@shore.net
From: ashhurst@education.canberra.edu.au (Craig Ashhurst)
Subject: Re: KIDS/PARENTING

Hi all,

I've seen a lot of wisdom in the above comments, and cringe with
acknowledgement of Chris's experience. Joann's thoughts reminded me of
something our group did do, with some effect. One night after being driven
mad by her kids eating food and dropping it and wiping their hands over
everything in our lounge room, I discussed the problem with our group after
this family had left. We agreed (I think in line with Joann's ideas) that we
would ask the children (all of them) to sit and eat at the dining table, as
this would at least contain the food spillage somewhat.
This has worked to some extent, with minimal embarrassment to the parents
(I think). It still gripes me a little that this behaviour is explained by
these parents to their kids as pretty much that Craig and I have a bit of a
problem with cleanness. But I guess I can live with that.

As an aside, we have found a similar approach (embarrassingly) has worked with
the father of this family. He does next to nothing to help his wife with
housework, or changing nappies etc. One night we had dinner with them, and
we washed up for his wife while she made dinner, while her husband read the
paper! Aaarrgh!

Our church (on the same night as the kids discussion) decided that while we
were meeting, we would just give this man 'jobs' to do, to encourage him to
pull his weight. E.g. "Could you get the tea and coffee, Joe?"(Not his real
name, needless to say), or throw him a cloth, and ask him to wipe down the
table. The really embarrassing times are when this occurs in his own home.
However I think it's only embarrassing for the rest of us; it seems
completely lost on him.

So far, we're fairly happy with this approach. At least it's the best we can
do, since honest discussion with him has thus far proved fruitless.
"I'm just eccentric" is his defence.

Just a few comments of experience, backing up Joann's ideas. Any others?

------------------------------

From: "Joann M. Hnat" <jmh@shore.net>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 1996 10:42:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: KIDS/PARENTING

On 15 Feb 1996 Kevin Knox <macknox@atlanta.com> wrote:
> > As an aside, if the children have troubles, and someone might need to be
> spoken to (within the outlines of Dan's post), it is the father who is to
> blame. ... The father seems to be held accountable for what the team has >
accomplished.
I don't want to start a big discussion about this here, because I don't
think it relates to home church. The only reason I'm writing this post is to
let people who might be new to the list know that not everyone on this list
would agree with Kevin's statement. I know that I very much disagree with it,
and I know that many others on this list disagree as well.

I would hope that we don't need a whole flurry of messages, pro and con, on
the subject. Perhaps people who wish to respond could contact Kevin
privately, by e-mail.

.. Joann

------------------------------

From: "Joann M. Hnat" <jmh@shore.net>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 1996 11:06:35 -0500 (EST)
Subject: KIDS/PARENTING

On Thu, 15 Feb 1996, ashhurst@canberra.edu.au (Craig Ashhurst) wrote:
[snip]
> It still gripes me a little that this behaviour is explained
> by these parents to their kids as pretty much that Craig and I have a bit
> of a problem with cleanness. But I guess I can live with that.

Yes, and the concept of cleanliness *is* pretty relative, anyway. I know that
*my* ideas of appropriate cleanliness are not in line with those of my late
great-aunt Ida, who barely let you finish a drink before she had the glass
washed, dried, and put away.

I happen to believe that cleanliness, in and of itself, is a relatively
inconsequential thing. (Aside from taking care of our things well enough so
that we can be godly stewards of them.) The important issue to teach
children, as I see it, is respect for other people. By telling them that
they must conform to others' rules when they are in others' homes, even if
they think those rules are silly, parents help their children to show respect
to others.

> As an aside, we have found a similar approach (embarrassingly) has worked
> with the father of this family. He does next to nothing to help his wife
> with housework, or changing nappies etc. One night we had dinner with
> them, and we washed up for his wife while she made dinner, while her
> husband read the paper! Aaarrgh!
> > Our church (on the same night as the kids discussion) decided that while
we
> were meeting, we would just give this man 'jobs' to do, to encourage him to
> pull his weight. E.g. "Could you get the tea and coffee, Joe?"(Not his
> real name, needless to say), or throw him a cloth, and ask him to wipe down
> the table. The really embarrassing times are when this occurs in his own
> home. However I think it's only embarrassing for the rest of us; it
> seems completely lost on him.
> > So far, we're fairly happy with this approach. At least it's the best we
> can do, since honest discussion with him has thus far proved fruitless.
> "I'm just eccentric" is his defence.

I happen to believe that you are taking the best course. As far as this man
pulling his own weight in his home, that's for him and his wife to decide.
If he's happy and she's happy, then so be it. And if she's *not* happy, then
she needs to work it out with him.

But I like what you are doing as a church. You are developing community
norms, which will stand you in good stead. We have the same sorts of norms in
our church. Throughout the years, we have fostered them in different ways,
sometimes by actually assigning clean-up (and other chores) on a rotating
basis, other times more informally, the way you are doing it.

I also think that some people are less sensitive to these sorts of issues than
others, and need more direction. As a general rule, and not to imply that
this rule will hold in any way for any individual in particular (yes,
I am a lawyer), I think that men are less sensitive to "clean-up" issues than
women. In my own home church, once one person (almost invariably a woman)
gets up to start cleaning after the meal, all of the other women immediately
follow. The men, though, are much more likely to stay at the table talking.
And I happen to think that the "Bill, would you please bring the dishes into
the kitchen" approach is just fine, and that no serious discussions on gender
dynamics, etc. are required. Yes, it might be nice if everyone were equally
sensitive and motivated. It would be nice if I could spend a few years
travelling around the world while staying at luxury hotels, too.

.. Joann M. Hnat

------------------------------

From: Kevin Knox <macknox@atlanta.com>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 06:33:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: KIDS/PARENTING

Golly,

I would certainly hope that everyone knows that what Joann said is correct,
and I would like to take it a step further. In that statement, I also was
not speaking for the Body of which I am a part. No, I am afraid that this
markedly off-beat opinion is strictly my own. Additionally, I fully agree
that the discussion should end. Please feel free to show me the down side of
my thoughts off-line, though. It would not even be close to being first time
I was wrong!

Two other things. If I actually have offended anyone, do write me. I would
really like to apologize, and I'm really glad this group is here.

Thank you again,

Kevin

------------------------------

From: MHTC01A@prodigy.com (MRS HELEN J PETERSON)
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 13:34:25 EST
Subject: KIDS/PARENTING

Thanks so much everyone for the input on the virus. Glad it was a hoax and
I'll pass the good news backwards to my sources.

Julie, I appreciate the book you mentioned as a resource for raising/relating
to kids. As a grandparent and host of house church I'm always looking for
good input.

I know that the book and program, "Raising Kids God's Way" has made a big
impact on friends of ours. So far we have not had a chance to read or get
into any meetings covering it. Also from a secular (I believe) arena, in any
grocery store you can find a series of books about the Berenstein Bears.
These are great character building stories and the little ones enjoy them a
lot.

As far as kids in the meetings, we love having them. If we end up with more
children than adults, our focus will change to accommodate that. Our songs
and possibly stories will be more on their level than usual. We also have
other activities available for them such as educational computer games (Magic
School Bus), coloring, building blocks, cars, etc. It does help to have
grand kids around so that we have accumulated things appropriate for kids.
And I agree with Joann that "house rules" help and can take pressure off a
parent. Many times another adult can say something and your child will
listen and respond. And again, house church is relational family so possibly
someone can take the function of "aunt" or "uncle" and come prepared to be
with the kids for a period of time. Right now, our meetings are in the
evening so little ones end up sleeping in a corner or on a spare bed. A
little older and they find their way to the computer. Attention spans are
_short_ so we don't try to keep them with us all evening.

God richly bless you all

Helen Peterson

------------------------------

From: scrisp@pcug.org.au (Stephen Crisp)
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 1996 13:13:46 +1100 (EST)
Subject: kids/parenting

A while back, Craig Ashhurst wrote:

>we have a couple in our
>church with two kids (4 & 1), and it seems very clear to us that their lack
>of discipline (in the interest of _love_) is causing two problems:
>exhaustion for the mother, and disruption of our group (due to
>attention-seeking behaviour of the 4 y.o.).

>Question: is there a role at all for questioning how others bring up their
>children?

We actually had a 4-year-old in our group last year who sounds somewhat like
the 4-year-old in Craig's church. He never did a thing that his parents or
any other adult told him to and he was noisy in the meetings.

In our case, however, it didn't occur to us to question the parents about
their parenting styles - I think that we just assumed that a certain amount
of anti-social behavior is to be expected from a 4 year old. (we have seen
some horrendous behavior in little kids, in our church - and simply ignoring
what adults said didn't seem too bad too us. At 4 you can always bodily
remove them from an activity, if they wont stop when you tell them to.)

anyway - our approach was to insist on house rules and church rules and to
make sure that he was regularly taken out for a play by an adult other than
his parents.

This approach worked really well. the house rules and church rules meant
that the adults still felt that they have some control over the meeting. The
time-out with another adult had a number of good repurcussions:

The parents saw that we valued their child enough to give up adult-
talking-time, to play with him. They were really touched and encouraged by
this.

It gave the opportunity to work on adult-child relationships across families,
within the church. These kind of relationships are as scarce as hen's teeth
in Australian society but we need them so much!

It was a gift to the adults who spent time with the little boy. He was so
cute when he was by himself!

The little boy was happier to come to church and happier to leave his Mum and
accept help from other adults. After a good play, his 'emotional tank' was
full and he needed to act out a lot less.

the only cost was that the adult that went out with the little boy did miss
out on some adult time, but I think, on balance it was well worth it.

I have no way of knowing if this approach would help at all in Craig's
situation but it is worth a try.

Jill Crisp

------------------------------

From: Richard Hendrix <rhendrix@jaxnet.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 1996 15:52:21 -0500
Subject: "what about the children"?

Hello to all,
In my introduction to the list I mentioned that my wife and I were
approached by some fellow worshippers to hold a home church in our home.
Some of us have met together before and the big question then was, "what about
the children"? We have in the past had volunteers to watch the children in
another room in the house with Christian videos and snacks for them. This
seemed to work for the 6-7 kids we had attend. It seems that now if we have
these new fellowships there could be 15-20 children, ages range from 1 yr old
to 15 yrs old.
I feel that the children from 6-7 yrs and older should attend our
meetings. I think that the kids would benefit from seeing God work in their
parents and their friends parents lives.
I would like to see how other home churches handle the kid question.
Please let me (and the list) know how your home church would treat 15-20
children.

Now another thing on my mind is since the home church is not connected
to any formal church denomination (thank the Lord). Do your home churches have
a creed or statement of beliefs? Or do you think that one is needed or not
needed?

thanks for your comments,
 

- --richard

------------------------------

From: "Phil Horst" <phorst@postoffice.ptd.net>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 06:37:27 -0500
Subject: Re: "what about the children"?

Richard Hendrix asks...

> I would like to see how other home churches handle the kid question.
> Please let me (and the list) know how your home church would treat 15-20
> children.
>

Our church has 12 children (with 11 adults) but I think our answer would be
the same with more. We simply have them as part of the worship service. We
do work hard at finding ways to keep the worship meaningful for children (and
adults). It is not always easy or always the right mix.

We tend to do a lot of singing and use a lot of "story telling" techniques.
But it is very interesting to observe what things the children do hear - even
when it seems like they are not paying attention. We all enjoy seeing how
comfortable our children are in participating with adults.

As you get going with this Richard, let us know how you work things out.
Phil Horst phorst@postoffice.ptd.net
Lancaster PA

------------------------------

From: Mark Retallack <markr@shore.net>
Date: Sun, 17 Mar 1996 15:28:16 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re:{kids in house church{

Today we at Salem community church got to experience what it might{have been
like for those in the temple when 12 year old Jesus read from the scriptures.
One{of our children presented the days teaching. It was{absolutely
wonderful!{One of the best yet! We hope a trend is set{

------------------------------

From: VOSSELER@gordonc.edu
Date: Sun, 17 Mar 1996 15:49:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re:{kids in house church{

Amen! Today's teaching in our church by a 5-yr-old was priceless, as
Mark Retallack mentioned. An added blessing to this is that he, the little
boy, volunteered by himself to teach! He was comfortable and confident enough
to speak to a group of 35 or so adults and other children. His mother said he
wasn't nervous the night before and he slept well.

The teaching was the story of David and Goliath read from a children's
Bible. The lesson from today's teacher was "David trusted in God and kids can
win battles,too."

What do we do with kids in our church? For one thing...we let them teach!
Out of the mouths of babes...

Doris-Ann

------------------------------

From: trd@petsparc.mc.duke.edu (Tim DeGrado)
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 1996 09:23:26 -0500 (EST)
Subject: A doubting child

Dear All,

We are seeing some very exciting things happen in our children as a result of
spending more time together worshipping and discussing spiritual things in our
home. We are trying to do this 2 or 3 times a week, not necessarily on just
Sunday morning. Our children are coming out more and expressing their desires
for songs, and what they want to talk about.

Last night, our oldest son, who is 7 1/2 years old, popped the big question:
What if God isn't real? And what if the Bible isn't true? We allowed him to
question and thanked him for asking such an important question. We also
shared that off and on, we struggle with those same kind of questions and
that's OK. We have only begun to start answering the question on his level,
though. Nature declares
God's handiwork, Jesus was a real person, archeology confirms the
Bible, etc. Any other suggestions???

Thanks,

Tim

------------------------------

From: Hal Miller <diannem@shore.net>
Date: Fri, 29 Mar 1996 08:18:26 -0500
Subject: slump

Dear hcdl,
One beauty of home churches is they reflect real life. A group can have a
stimulating, worshipful week, then the next can be quiet and forgetable.
In our home church, we do have one person assigned to the job of bringing
the teaching. We include the kids in every teaching, and don't even consider
a teaching that is not integrated with the kids. Last week the teaching was
about Matthew 26 and the parts were acted out with Legoes!!! My group did
the last supper and we made a table with cups and plates, and made all the
lego guys so they were around the table. The scriptures were read and the
scenes acted out. The kids love it, and it depicts the scripture for the
adults in a different way. Of course you have to have quite a few Legos to
do this, but it is an idea of how to make home church more alive for all
concerned.
Dianne Miller

------------------------------

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