Why Family Small Groups?

Why Family Small Groups?
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
“Parents . . . raise your children properly. Teach and instruct them about the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:4 (CEV)
These family studies are designed to help you live out those two important verses. But even
more than that, you can do it in a fun way for every member of the family and in partnership
with other families.
Every study provides easy to use step-by-step instructions.
Here are some additional benefits . . .
1. Parents can take the lead in building biblical truth into their children.
2.Families can stay together during their small group meeting rather than sending the kids
off to “play” or hiring a sitter.
3. Families can grow closer together and to God. These are Bible studies and everyone must
bring their Bible.
4. Every member of the family can make new friends.
5. Family members can learn from each other in age appropriate studies and activities.
6. Family memories will be made that will be talked about for years to come.
Saddleback Bible Study Series
for Family Small Groups with Children
1 Saddleback Parkway
Lake Forest, CA 92630
(949) 609-8000
Saddleback Bible Study Series
for Family Small Groups with Children
Copyright © 2006, 2008 Saddleback Church
1 Saddleback Parkway
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Edition 2.0
These studies are written by Rick Bradford, Pastor to Couples Small Groups, Saddleback Church, and
Holly McGee, Children’s Small Group Coordinator, Saddleback Church.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted
in any form without the written permission of Saddleback Church. Published by Saddleback Church.
Scripture quotations noted NIV and are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV®.
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights
Scripture quotations noted NLT are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW LIVING TRANSLATION. Copyright 1996.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Wheaton, IL 60189. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations noted NASB are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE. Copyright © 1960, 1962,
1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA. All rights reserved. Used
by permission.
Scripture quotations noted CEV are from THE CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH VERSION (American Bible Society,
1865 Broadway, New York, NY 10023) and are used by permission.
Children are a gift from the Lord. As parents, it is our responsibility to train them up in the way
they should go (Proverbs 22:6). That includes their spiritual training. And yet, all too often, we
pass off their spiritual growth to church, Sunday school, or Christian schools.
This curriculum is going to give you, the parent, the opportunity to experience Christian growth
right alongside of your child. It could well be one of the most exciting adventures you will ever
have with him or her. To live out the five purposes of God for our lives together as a family, and
with other families, is something you will talk about for the rest of your lives.
Here is what you will experience:
It is true that when it comes to our children, more is “caught than is taught.” Involving your
children in small groups even from an early age is showing them how the Christian life is
to be lived in community with other believers. They will see you praying for and caring for
others. They will have other adults caring for them, too.
• Digging deeper into the Word of God
This is a Bible study. You will open the Bible together and discuss questions that are
designed to cause both parents and children to think through the passage. Tremendous
spiritual power is experienced when a group wrestles with not only the meaning of a
passage but also its meaning for their lives.
• Building community
No Christ follower was meant to live in isolation. The Bible speaks nothing of “lone ranger”
faith, but more than 50 times in the New Testament God speaks of a “one another” type
of faith. Family small groups provide a way for different generations to interact, learn from
one another, and become lifelong friends.
• Sharpening your focus on God’s purposes
Every lesson will include each of the five purposes in one form or another. Not that you
will spend an equal amount of time on them in any one week, but over the course of six
months, a healthy small group will make each purpose an important part of their group
life together.
How to lead a Family Small Group
Leading a small group that includes several families and children is different from a group of only
adults. It means different goals, expectations, and the way your time together functions. Children
have shorter attention spans and learn differently than adults do, but you will be amazed at the
insights they will give you from God’s Word. Please prayerfully read the following and ask the
Lord for his help in making this group the best experience possible for everyone involved.
Why should you be participating in this group?
For the spiritual growth of your children.
• No one cares about your child as much as you do.
• They will see you praying and reading the Bible and will learn from your example.
• Other Christian adults will be involved in your child’s life.
To fulfill God’s five purposes within your group.
To strengthen the bond between you and your children.
What the Family Small Group is not:
• The same depth of study as an adult small group.
• A baby sitting service.
• Just a social time — expect high commitment from your child and from each member family.
What happens at a Family Small Group meeting?
1. Fellowship (games, puzzles, fun).
2. Worship (singing, prayer).
3. Discipleship (study of God’s Word together).
4. Ministry (personal application of the study, serving one another, planning ministry together).
5.Mission (allow the Scriptures you study and the Holy Spirit to lead your group to how you
can serve him in local or global P.E.A.C.E. together).
6. Enjoy food or snacks before or after the group time.
7.Meet for one and a half hours maximum — one hour if the children are 7 or under.
Sample schedule
• Game or activity — 20 minutes.
• Worship singing and opening prayer — 10 minutes.
ible study — break into subgroups of 3 to 5 people. Read the passage and discuss
• B
the questions — 20 minutes.
• Each subroup reports back to the whole group: “What is one highlight that you
discovered?” — 10 minutes.
rayer requests and prayer — 15 minutes. Use a large poster board to write the
• P
requests in two columns. One says, “We ask.” The other says, “God answers.”
Bring this poster board to the small group every week.
Forming your group
• Pray for the Lord to lead you to the right families.
• A
variety of ages in the group can be beneficial. Individuals or couples without children
should be welcome too.
• Seek families with whom you enjoy being together.
• Let each member of the family suggest friends.
Other tips
Have fun. Enjoy the Lord together!
Do other things together.
ß Plan family outings such as going to the beach or picnics at the park.
ß The adult men and women can meet together at other times if they desire.
ß Be involved in each other’s lives.
Agree on a meeting time and length, and stick to it.
At the first meeting, agree on a Bible translation that everyone will use. The New Living
Translation is good for young children, and the New International Version is good for
older ones.
Everyone should bring their own Bible. This is a Bible study.
Use short one sentence prayers.
Choose worship songs that can be sung by the whole group. If there are younger children
in the group we recommend using CDs from popular children’s artists such as Jana Alayra
(www.janaalayra.com) or Psalty (www.psalty.com).
Older kids may think some activities are too childish for them. Talk to them in advance and
challenge them to be an example for the younger kids. This is a real ministry opportunity
that God is giving them in this group.
After the group has been together for a month, commit to a minimum of one year. It takes
that long to build lasting memories.
Have fun. Enjoy the Lord together! This cannot be stressed enough.
Group Agreement
It’s a good idea for every group to put words to their shared values, expectations, and
commitments. Such guidelines will help you avoid unspoken agendas and unmet expectations.
We recommend you discuss your guidelines in order to lay the foundation for a healthy group
experience. Feel free to modify anything that does not work for your group.
If the idea of a written agreement is unfamiliar to your group, we encourage you to give it a try.
We agree to the following values:
Clear purpose: Grow healthy spiritual lives by building a healthy small group community.
Group attendance: Give priority to the group meeting (I will call if I am absent or late).
Safe environment: Help create a safe place where people can be heard and feel loved (no
quick answers, snap judgments, or simple fixes).
Be confidential: Keep anything that is shared strictly confidential and within the group.
Spiritual health: Give group members permission to help me live a healthy, balanced
spiritual life that is pleasing to God.
Welcome newcomers: Invite our friends who might benefit from this study and warmly
welcome them and anyone else who is new to the group.
Building relationships: Get to know the other members of the group and pray for
them regularly.
Other: _____________________________________________________________________
We agree to the following items:
• Starting time: ____________________________________________________________
• Ending time: ____________________________________________________________
If you haven’t already done so, take a few minutes to fill out the Small Group Calendar from
Appendix A.
Years ago, while I was still in seminary, my wife and I were invited by our pastor to join his small
group home Bible study. That seemed good except that we were a young married couple and his
group was for families that included the children. Would we fit in? Would it be a “deep enough” study
for us? Would the kids behave? Since we had not had our own children yet, I still wondered why
parents did not have perfect control of their children at all times. I have since learned that lesson.
Nevertheless, we joined. And guess what? We had a great time almost every week. We played
games, but we also dug into God’s Word together. And when the kids prayed, wow! I became
convinced that our Lord loves to answer children’s prayers. For years we stayed in that group
because it was fun and we were doing life together.
Years later, when my wife and I were blessed with children of our own, we wanted them to have
the same type of experiences in their formative years. So, we invited several families to join with
us in a weekly small group. Again, friendships were made that have lasted for many years. We still
remember so many great times together in that group. It was one place where both the children
and adults could interact with the Bible and with each other at a time when churches seem to divide
most everything by age group.
Needless to say, I am very excited for you and your family as you begin this study of Noah and the
lessons we can learn from his experiences. Let the adventure begin!
Rick Bradford
Pastor to Couples Small Groups, Saddleback Church
How exciting that you are making the commitment to be in a Family Small Group. You are showing
your children consistency and faithfulness through your actions and priorities. I am so thankful that
my parents made this commitment for me. You see, Rick Bradford is my dad, and when I was young,
my parents took me every week to a small group with other families where I was allowed to learn
about God along with the adults. I discovered that God wasn’t just for them; he was for me too, and
being in his family was special. I remember prayer request times and seeing God answer my prayers.
I remember laughing and playing together. It left me convinced that kids of all ages should be
learning alongside their parents. This is an incredible avenue for growth for believers of all ages.
Trust me, as you and your family participate together in this small group, your children will not only
have great memories of this time, but they will grow in their faith. Even if you don’t see it yet, great
rewards are coming!
Holly McGee
Children’s Small Group Coordinator, Saddleback Church
GENESIS 6 and 7
genesis 6 and 7
Fellowship ................................................ 25 minutes
1. If this is your first time together as a group, be sure everyone knows
each other. Take some time to introduce yourself. Ask, “What was one of
your most embarrassing moments?” That ought to help you get to know
each other!
2. Choose one of the activities from Appendix A and have a lot of fun with it.
Study together (Discipleship) . .................. 20 minutes
Hosts: If your group has six or more people, you should break into circles of three to five people so that everyone
gets a chance to share. There should be at least one adult and one child in each subgroup. Always let the
children answer the questions
first. Then, come back together at the end of the discussion time and have
someone report from each group the highlights of their discussion.
Leader reads this before breaking into subgroups:
we begin this study in Genesis, it is already hundreds of years since the
creation of the earth and the time of Adam and Eve. This period of the Bible
is actually the time when the oldest human in history lived. Does anyone
know who that was and how long he lived? It was Methuselah, and he lived
for 969 years! (Genesis 5:27)
Adam and Eve shared a close relationship with God, but now many people on earth had begun
to forget about God. They decided to do what they wanted to do rather than what God wanted
them to do. Everyone forgot about God­—except one man! His name was Noah and God was
about to do amazing things in his life because he followed God.