THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THE VERGE FAMILY CHANNEL. THANKS TO AUTHOR JOHN MURCHISON FOR ALLOWING US TO SHARE IT HERE.
We’re in the middle of a series on how to involve children in Missional Communities. At The Austin Stone, we encourage our Missional Communities to pursue three main practices:
- To gather as a community in a Family Meal
- To gather as disciples in Life Transformation Groups, or LTGs
- To gather as missionaries in a Third Place
While I know not every Missional Community follows this model, my hope is that you will be able to take some of the principles in each of these types of gatherings and apply them to your Missional Community rhythms.
Last week, I posted on how to involve kids in a Family Meal gathering. This week, we are focusing on the practice of gathering in Life Transformation Groups.
What Is A Life Transformation Group?
The Life Transformation Group (LTG) is a practice where groups of two or three people of the same gender meet weekly to study the Bible deeply and to be known deeply. Each Missional Community will consist of several LTGs that meet regularly. At these meetings, participants aim to do three main things:
- Hear and Obey – recap what they heard from the Lord in their personal times in His Word, and share what obeying the Scriptures looks like personally
- Repent and Believe – confess sin to each other and remind each other of the good news of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection
- Consider and Pray – think together about opportunities to share the gospel and pray by name for unbelieving friends
If you’re not familiar with LTGs, I highly encourage you to click here and read Todd Engstrom’s very helpful post describing exactly what an an LTG is and does.
An effective LTG where members are confessing sin and diving deep into the Scriptures is not an environment that is kid-friendly. Children should not be listening in as members confess their sin, and the conversation about the Bible will usually be above the age-level of our younger children. That said, the three aims of an LTG (Hear and Obey, Repent and Believe, and Consider and Pray) are great goals for conversation with your kids in your own home. A version of the LTG meeting could certainly be incorporated at a mealtime or bedtime for your family.
Helpful Tips for Parents in LTGs
Even though children are not going to be active participants in the LTGs of your Missional Community, I still have a few simple tips on how to make this practice work in your communities.
Working parents that have a stay-at-home spouse: set your alarm clocks. If you have a typical work week, and your spouse is able to stay at home, early mornings tend to be the best time to meet. Find a location with good, strong coffee to wake you up and start your day with Biblical community and encouragement. The early time also adds to the consistency of the group since very few work or social obligations will conflict.
Stay-at-home parents with kids in school: meet right after the kids leave for the school day. I know you only have a limited number of hours to run errands, work around the home, and do other things while the kids are at school, which is why I recommend meeting before the craziness of the day hits. Get the kids bundled up and off to school, then head straight to meet with your LTG. This will likely be the most stress-free part of your day, allowing you to enjoy the time and not feel hurried.
Stay-at-home parents with preschoolers : choose your location wisely, and set aside a lot of time. My wife is currently in this stage of life, so we know first-hand how difficult it can be to have a good, quality LTG meeting for a group of two or three parents of preschoolers. Try and find a location where the kids can play, such as a restaurant with a playground, or one of the LTG members’ homes. But no matter the location, there will still be plenty of interruptions, from snack requests to diaper changes to mediating disputes. For that reason, I recommend setting aside more than the standard hour usually recommended for LTGs. Instead of trying to get “in and out” of your LTG, set aside the whole afternoon for a play date or hangout time, and work your way through the LTG over the afternoon.
Families where both parents work outside the home: plan “special times” with the kids. If both parents have a standard work week, it will be difficult to make a weekly LTG time work for both parents. I recommend planning a “special time” for one parent to spend intentional relational time with the kids while the other parent is at their LTG. For instance, a family could make Tuesday night “Dad Game Night” where Dad always plays board games with the kids while Mom is at her LTG, or Mom could take the kids to get donuts every Saturday morning while Dad is at his LTG.
Dads: serve and bless your wives. Men, if your families include preschool-aged children, and your wives’ LTGs often include taking care of the kids at the same time, be intentional about planning time for your wives to spend some “kid free” time together. Plan ahead, get the calendars out, and send your wives out to dinner, brunch, coffee, or whatever they enjoy. This will go a long way in deepening the relationships in your wives’ LTGs.
Next week, I’ll share some thoughts on the third Missional Community practice, the Third Place.
Share your thoughts by emailing Cailey or posting a comment on this blog.
If you’d like some help getting kids involved in missional life—or getting your church on board with the idea—Sherry Bennett would love to chat with you. Sherry’s the coordinator of the CBWC’s Children and Families Missional Network (CFam).
John Murchison is the Director of Children’s Ministry at The Austin Stone. He is husband to Sarah and father to Waverly and Lucy. He is passionate about making disciples of children rather than “mini-Pharisees,” and about teaching children the gospel over morality. He desires to help parents see themselves as missionaries on mission to and through their children. He’s also a fan of Pixar movies, all things Disney, comic books, and video games, and uses his job as an excuse to do “research” in these areas.