Playgroups for families with babies and young children have been a part of the Australian culture for over 30 years. The support that these groups provide for families is invaluable. Children are given the opportunity to develop in a variety of ways as well as socialise with other children and adults. Mothers and other carers (fathers, grandparents, nannies etc), are able to share common experiences and support one another through what can be a difficult and isolated time of life.
In Australia, Christian churches run playgroups as an outreach ministry to their local community with many women building relationships that last a lifetime.
There are many different models of playgroups ranging from structured to unstructured, leader-led to parent-led, large to small. When Allison was leading the Kidz Bizz playgroup ministry at Waverley Christian Fellowship (now CityLife Church) she used a structured, leader led model with a focus on Christian values and themes. The first lesson Allison learnt when she began promoting playgroups overseas was that it is principles and not programs that are culturally transferable. What was working very well in middle-class Melbourne was not going to be at all effective in the slums of Manila or Communist Belarus!
Over the years Allison has developed a program which teaches the basic principles of running a playgroup rather than a specific program.
In order for playgroups to be successful the leaders need to be empowered to adapt basic playgroup principles to suit their social, cultural and physical situations. In Belarus the playgroups are small, meeting in apartments with three or four families.
In Hungary the groups are bigger and meet in homes, while in the Czech Republic the groups meet in community facilities that are rented by the churches.
The PTC aims to take a group of Christians through from knowing nothing about playgroups to being equipped and empowered to step out and begin a culturally relevant, outreach playgroup ministry to the local community.
The PTC has been run in Hungary, Czech Republic, Philippines, Argentina, New York and with others from Romania and Slovakia.
The Playgroup Training Course is a course designed to assist churches in developing indigenous, culturally appropriate outreach playgroups aimed at mothers with small children. We have worked with individual churches as well as large inter-denominational organizations. It is a two day course run using participatory methods of training.
The large network of women associated with Chandelier Ministries has enabled us to provide leadership development and support in the area of women’s ministries in Australia and overseas. Mentoring, training, teaching/preaching for individuals and groups have been a feature of the Ministry.