For the past ten years, Lewisville Baptist Church in Moncton, New Brunswick, has been welcoming young children and their caregivers to our Play Zone program on Tuesday mornings. This play group allows parents with infants and preschoolers the opportunity to socialize over coffee and muffins while their children play together. What started out as a few moms getting together with their kids every week, is now a gym filled to capacity with well over 100 parents and children.
Each week, our gym is transformed from a sanctuary to a large play space for kids with areas for parents to sit and talk. We have been blessed with many dedicated volunteers who put in hours of setup and preparation to make Play Zone happen. The kitchen team provides free coffee, tea, and refreshments for the adults as well as snacks for the children. All of the volunteers work hard to create an environment that is welcoming and relaxed for everyone who comes through the door.
In addition to our volunteer team, we’ve been privileged to partner with students from New Brunswick Community College and Lewisville Middle School. The students have joined us regularly to engage with the children and lead them in games, stories, and activities. They also provide extra help with snack time and cleanup. It has been very encouraging to have this type of support from our community and to be able to serve others together. It has also provided the students with the opportunity to gain new skills and has been a valuable learning experience for them.
The response from parents has been far greater than expected. We are welcoming new members to this ministry every week and that is largely due to word of mouth. Parents look forward to their Tuesday mornings at Play Zone, often planning their week around it. While it is a fun way for them to get out with their children, it has also been a great environment for new relationships to develop. Children are able to interact with others their age, while parents can meet other parents and chat with someone who is in a similar stage of life. Through Play Zone, many families have been connected and support systems have been created that otherwise would not have formed.
We’ve been amazed to see the impact that can be made by simply opening our doors and creating a space where people can connect with no strings attached. This has allowed us to reach out to our community in a very unique way. We have welcomed many families who we don’t see on Sundays, even those who would typically steer clear of church. These families may never end up attending our Sunday service, but we do gain their trust, and they come to view us as a safe place to return to when they need help or support.
Play Zone has provided us with many opportunities to show God’s love to others by meeting their needs in practical ways. It has opened our eyes to the challenges that families in our community are facing, and, from there, we do our best to walk through those challenges with them. We are grateful that God has given us the chance to bless others in this way.
Lauren Everett is a graduate of Crandall University. She has worked at Lewisville Baptist Church in Moncton as the director of children’s ministry since 2014.
*originally submitted for the Atlantic Baptist Women’s Tiding publication. For more info and to subscribe to Tidings, click here: http://www.atlanticbaptistwomen.ca/tidings-magazine/subscribe-to-tidings-print-magazine