Kids, connection and coffee – a simple formula for building God’s kingdom
By ANTHONY CASTLE
Rev Minis is a new parent’s group at Revolution Church in Oakden, Adelaide. The church members open the corps building to the community each Monday, sharing the tools they have with parents and carers who need them.
Launching in November 2021, the initiative has reached hundreds of people and grown to other communities, demonstrating the potential of people over program.
“It’s free play for kids, a space for mums to connect and chat over a good coffee,” explains Territorial Envoy Nathan Casey, Corps Officer at Revolution Church. “As a church, we have five mums that set it up and pack it down. Within a couple of weeks, it went from mum to mum and more turned up. Before we knew it, there were 50 people, all just coming from a natural network. We didn’t start a program. It began with relationship.”
The formula for Rev Minis is simple – parents from the corps open the space, share the toys and activities from the children’s programs, invite their friends and promote the gatherings on Instagram. Over the past year, the initiative has grown new friendships, a supportive community and a range of responses that help meet the challenges of parenting.
“We’ve had mums support one another through post-partum depression,” explains Nathan. “A walking group came out of Rev Minis. We have a table where people can donate clothes and kids gear, and people can take what they need. Dan (Casey) and I are often behind the coffee machine, and it’s free for any who turn up.”
The idea arose after Nathan spoke with Bek Casey, mother and community member of Revolution Church, about the type of space that mums want and how they could provide the community that parents need. The church shared the resources they already had, focusing on open-ended play, sensory play and seasonal crafts.
“As a mum myself, I knew what impact this space could have and really wanted to help create something that made sense for mums today,” explains Bek. “Our first Rev Minis was just the regular mums and pre-schoolers who attend Revolution Church. I shared photos of the kids and activities, as did the mums who came, and it started gaining traction. Every week this year, we have had an average of 50-plus people coming each Monday.”
“The testimonies from mums I have spoken to is that they look forward to walking through that door every Monday morning”
The initiative was grown through social media. As participants tagged the gatherings in social media, more began following online, and new people walked through the door each week. More than 200 different individuals have come through the doors of Rev Minis since 2021.
“The testimonies from mums I have spoken to is that they look forward to walking through that door every Monday morning,” Bek says. “They know they are walking into a safe environment for them and their ‘minis’. We have adopted the belief that this playgroup is just as important for the parents as it is for the children, so while the ‘minis’ are engaged, the parents can sit down and relax with a coffee and speak openly to one another about the daily struggles they may be facing with zero judgement.
While caffeine is often a must for those with newborns and toddlers, each takeaway cup at Rev Minis bears the slogan ‘God so loves…’. When a parent or carer orders a coffee, their name is written on the cup, just beneath the slogan. Each coffee then becomes a personalised message of love, and the Rev Minis gatherings an expression of a loving community.
“The key is that it’s about people, not program,” explains Nathan. “It’s low-cost. It’s accessible. It builds natural community. All you need is four or five mums in a faith community who invite their friends.”
The success of Rev Minis has been spreading. The initiative has already been trialled in different ways at other Salvo churches, in the Mount Barker and Parafield Gardens communities, prompting many to consider the tools they already have at their disposal.
“We use the resources we already have,” says Nathan. “There’s no program element, there’s no volunteers. This keeps it relational, as opposed to service-based. It’s about community building community.”