Joyce shares how she overcame fears and created a gospel-focussed toddler group with a huge impact

The Possibilities of a Toddler Group was produced by the Evangelical Alliance with the support of

So initially that first problem was myself, and it was that fear of people are not going to come.
There was a lot of concern because we were using Christian content that we might offend somebody, but for 20 years I've been doing this now and not once has anybody ever said to me, "I'm really offended, so I'm not coming back."
So I started to come on a Wednesday and a Friday and then I noticed that they were gonna start doing a special thing with a Christian message on a Monday so I thought I'd turn up for that, as well
It's just a really nice friendly group
You get everyone chatting to each other
The children absolutely love it, they talk about it all the time
They have, it's called 'Big God', to our kids 'cause of the song that we sing, that's their group, obviously, it's called 'See and Know' but the children know it as 'Big God' playgroup and they love it, they look forward to it
The toddler group is just basically like any other toddler group
There are toys so the children can have free play to begin with
Parents can get drinks, then about halfway through the session we ring a little bell and that is a sign that it's time to, it's God's time, so 'See and Know', it's built round a framework of very simple nursery rhyme type songs, and there's four songs
There's a bell song where you ring a bell, the children come and sit down with their parents, carers, grandparents, and then there's a welcome song where we welcome each child as an individual
We sing to them, we shake their hand because God welcomes us, He knows our name, He welcomes us as individuals, and that's what we would like to do with the children
We welcome them as individuals
There is then a storytime session, then there is a Bible song, as well
So we introduce the Bibles to the children, we put boxes of Bibles out
The children come and run to get the Bibles, literally running to get hold of the Word of God, and then is a prayer song at the end where we pray, we thank God for we have and who He is and how much He loves us
And then there's always a craft, there's a craft that links into the story that the children do with the parents and carers, and then they can take that home as a witness within their own home
There's more structure to it, which I think is quite good so the children know what's going to happen after each one
Some play groups I've been to and they're literally just playing all the time, whereas, they play for a little bit and they know that it's singin' time and storytime, so George enjoys the structure
They love the singalong time and their dance time, they absolutely adore it
Oliver through and through, he can't wait, when he gets up on a Monday morning, that's it, he's so excited
I've got so many incredible stories of how God can work through 'just' a parents and toddler group
The one that instantly springs to mind was a lady called Julie who was living away from her family but she was with a partner in our town, and she was very lonely, she didn't know anybody in the area and one day she just happened to be walking past when we had our session on, and saw all the prams outside and came in to find out what was going on
And then she kept coming back each week, and long story short she made a commitment to Jesus
She went back to her partner, they got married, they are part of the church, she started doing the children's work, they had another baby and that whole family's life has been changed just because one day she happened to walk past a parent and toddler group and she came in and she heard how special she was and how much God loved her
And the God of relationship, gave her the relationships that she needed
If you're already running a toddler group and you don't use Christian content because of that fear, and that fear can stop us from doing these things, do you know what
Do it anyway, don't be frightened.
We're in a church building, they're coming to a church building, they're expecting God in one way or another.
We've had, just recently this past two weeks, we've had one of our new mums who's come along, loved it, "Can I have my baby baptised?"
"Yes, of course you can."
So never ever underestimate what can happen in a parents and toddler group because God's there before you, He's done it, and those children matter more to Him than they do to us