The Possibilities of a Toddler Group

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

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

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