Is the playgroup at your church seen as a chance for the mums with toddlers to meet up, a nice way to get out of the house, and as a bonus, it feels good to say that there is something happening that connects with local families? The good news is that it is possible to change the hearts and minds of the people in your church so that the playgroup becomes valued and supported as a key and strategic element of the parish’s mission.

Your church leadership (clergy and Vestry) must have a vision for “the Playgroup as a ministry of the church.” Playgroups are a unique opportunity for a church to connect with families with young children. So the playgroup should be a key element of your parish Mission Action Plan. Have a strategy that recognises the opportunities to build genuine friendships between playgroup families and church members. Be committed to providing an excellent playgroup experience for the sake of the gospel. (But also care about the integrity of the playgroup experience for the children!)

Use every opportunity to promote the vision, “Playgroup as a ministry of the church”.

Keep the playgroup visible, because it is a ministry that happens mid-week, “out of sight, out of mind”. Use different ways to visually “tell the story”.

  • You could display photos showing what playgroup has been doing and the friendships between church members and playgroup families.
  • Run a slideshow on the data projector as people are coming into church, with photos and dot points to tell a story, and general prayer points.
  • Contribute regular articles or news items to the church newsletter or Sunday bulletin, advertising playgroup times, special playgroup events, requesting volunteers or listing prayer points.
  • Use the power of storytelling to raise the level of interest in playgroup. You could tell the congregation how God has been at work in the playgroup or how God has given the playgroup team opportunities for ministry. If someone in the playgroup has come to faith or been excited to see God at work, tell the congregation about it; you could interview them, or stand with them as they tell their story or tell the story on their behalf.

Make the playgroup the ministry of the whole church by regularly asking for support. Christian families from your church with small children should be encouraged to join the playgroup. Ask some cell groups to commit to pray regularly for the playgroup, keeping them informed about needs or events. Have a working bee to maintain the playgroup room or playground; find people to prepare materials for craft projects; set up a group to provide meals for families when babies are born or in crisis situations and another to provide pamper/care packs for mums with newborn babies. Have someone to send birthday cards to playgroup children on behalf of the church.

Whenever possible, ask people to get involved in helping. It might be easier to “do it yourself” but playgroups that are a ministry of the church, rather than your sole responsibility are more effective and have greater missional impact.