Toddlers. They’re everywhere. Which is why missionaries David and Julie Goldschmidt decided to take advantage of this growing percentage of the population and faithfully walk through a door they felt confident God had opened. Armed with a deep love for people and firsthand experience with toddlers, they started Toddler Area Playgroup at their church plant, Bridge Family Church, as a way to open the doors for increased ministry in a tangible, friendly way.
In Edinburgh, Scotland, toddler groups are very popular and take place in a variety of locations, including community centers and churches. But they rarely result in deeper connections among the parents who attend. David and Julie Goldschmidt committed to changing the traditional approach by intentionally focusing on each person who came through their doors.
Intended for families with children ages zero to four, Toddler Area Playgroup is a safe, friendly, fun environment designed for both children and parents alike. At first, the wealthy and well-educated locals didn’t know how to handle the Goldschmidts, a down-to-earth, fun, unconventional couple from New Jersey. “Sometimes our personalities can throw people off,” explains David, “But as they get to know us, they become receptive to our love and care for them.”
Progress has seemed slow at times, because of a stigma against religion and Americans who are religious or associated with the church. Reaching people with the gospel is challenging in a culture that identifies as culturally Christian, but especially so with those who are simultaneously one to two generations removed from the Church. As time has gone by, however, the walls have started coming down and lives are being changed. One attendee, Natasha, had attended the playgroup for awhile before she eventually started coming to the monthly kids’ service at Bridge Family Church. She brought her kids to be involved in a nativity at Christmas time, then finally a year later gave her life to Christ. Another couple, Matt and Jen, came to the toddler group regularly before asking David and Julie to dedicate their daughter. They both were saved the very Sunday their daughter was dedicated to the Lord.
The Goldschmidts have established Alpha courses and other outreaches at Bridge Family Church, and Toddler Area Playgroup has only increased their engagement in the community. As the Goldschmidts plan to continue to find new ways to connect with their neighbors, they look forward to seeing what other doors God opens for them, no matter how small.