“Don’t wake the baby!” is a new venture by Yorkshire North & East Methodist District. It is hosted by (and the creation of) Emma and Elliot Crippen, in partnership with The Kairos Movement. It is a digital “New Place for New People” (a fresh expression of church) to reach unaffiliated people and has received support and seed-funding from the district. It has also received exploratory funding to ‘enable exploratory work for digital pioneers’ from The Methodist Church (Connextion).
“Don’t wake the baby!” is a podcast that also has a visual crafting element on YouTube. It is aimed at millennial parents or those with preschool-age children. In each episode, Emma and Elliot chat about a parenting topic, share their experiences, and explore how parenting has changed since the 90s. It has a purposeful “made at home” and authentic feel and has a strong focus on humour, laughter and having fun. The podcast encourages engagement through YouTube and Instagram, and has a steadily growing community of parents on Facebook.
The aim of the podcast is to reach and build relationships with young parents outside the church in a “grace space” that is relevant to their lives. Looking and feeling more like the secular content they are used to, rather than looking like ‘church’ or typical ‘online worship’. Offering connection and mutual support to isolated parents. Parenting can be lonely, and many don’t have time to meet up physically, so this provides an opportunity to connect and support one another.
Here’s how the podcast describes itself:
Unwind on sleepless nights to a wholesome mix of parenting, humour, and crafting. A fun, honest and unscripted conversation between Emma and Elliot on non-judgemental parenting and millennial-based topics, as we relax in the blanket fort with a craft or creative activity.
Find out more, or listen to the podcast, here: www.kairosmovement.org.uk/dontwakethebaby
What is a podcast?
The term “podcasting” was first used in February 2004. A podcast is like a radio show that you can listen to on demand. You subscribe to it on your smartphone and listen to it whenever you like. They can be any length, from a 1 minute news snippet, to a 3 hour in-depth interview. They can be any frequency, from daily to monthly. They can be any format, from simple solo shows up to multi-person audio dramas. Each episode is normally run by one or two regular presenters, talking about that subject. A lot of podcasts are really simple, just a few friends chatting about something that they’re all really passionate about.
What about faith?
Emma and Elliot are open on the podcast about being Christians but the main topics focus on parenting. They are following the Fresh Expression pathway of initially “loving and serving” and “building community” first and in time more elements of “church” will take shape. In many episodes Emma and Elliot share the work, vision and values of The Kairos Movement – exposing it to a larger audience outside the church (also offering follow-on opportunities for those wanting to connect or explore more). They also occasionally share small snippets of their faith journey, however, they keep it very ‘light’ and non-preachy. Emma and Elliot are the face of the project (hoping to showcase Christians as “normal” people who can have liberal views), and listeners feel they are relating to them as individuals, not to a church.
Has it been a success?
The podcast launched in July 2023 and produced 10 episodes over the summer plus a bonus outtake episode.
There have been over 1,000 Listens* of the podcast so far, and an engaged audience of 30-40 people who tune in each week. A real community is forming.
More importantly are the stories that emerge from those tuning in, with some comments including:
“You’ve got to keep making these as they’re what gets me to sleep on a night now.”Non-church goer
“I listened to the first one and it was great. You and your other half really work so well together … Seriously I’ll be recommending it to all the parents I know.”Non-church goer
“Just watched the intro! Looking forward to it. …. You need to do some more! For when I’m up in the night.”non-church goer
“I’ve actually been listening to it, I must confess that I love it! I’ve listened to every episode apart from the multi births ep. I find it very relaxing (idea of it being hosted in a blanket/cover fort is very calming) … Yes, please keep the content coming!”non-church goer
“I have been enjoying listening along!! We have a 5 yr old and another on the way in a month or so… So hearing your baby stories and survival tips were at the right time … it has been good to hear another couples parenting and birth experiences! Thanks for sharing your stories (and crafts… I am a big artsy fan!)”Kairos Listener
“Just wanted to get in touch and say I’ve been listening to your podcast and really enjoying it – looking forward to catching up with the other episodes very soon! … Keep going!”Lucy Rycroft, currently hosts the “Parenting for Faith” podcast by BRF, and runs “The Hope-Filled Family” parenting blog
How can your church use this resource to engage with parents?
Many churches, whilst providing great community groups for babies, toddlers and families, often struggle to offer anything to engage with the parents who bring their children. Initiatives like Messy Church and Stay-and-Play toddler groups often attract many non-church goers (unaffiliated) from the community, but the only follow-on opportunities are by inviting them to church on a Sunday morning. This is not likely to work for busy parents (outside of whether your Sunday service is suitable for millennials). This is where a digital initiative (online church or “grace space”) is ideally suited.
As a district, we recognised that local churches and circuits were unlikely to have the time, skills or resources to create something like this but that we could create a district-wide project that could be used by all.
If you have Church baby/toddler groups, Messy Churches, or anything aimed at families… Then here’s how you could utilise the podcast:
Support the parents you are in contact with by sharing the podcast with them
Send Elliot details of your (Yorkshire) CYF groups to be shared with podcast listeners
Use the themes and topics of the podcast as ideas for talking points or even a discussion group at your local church
Learn from the podcast what the issues and life experience is of young parents in order to cater your family ministry or Sunday service to be more relevant to their lives
An example of what “online church” / Grace space could look like. A template for how to pioneer something new online.
We want to free you up so you can minister to children while we minister to the parents. Remember we are all working together to grow God’s kingdom. Our aim shouldn’t be to get these parents to come to your church on a Sunday – and it doesn’t matter where they get their spiritual belonging or discipleship from. It may be online, it may be in person. It may be at your church midweek, it may be at a different church, it may be through a podcast, it may be talking with other parents, or it may be within The Kairos Movement.
Let’s work together!
*Podcasts are usually measured in “Downloads”, however, this figure is a combined total of YouTube views and podcast downloads.
Elliot works for Yorkshire North and East Methodist District as Digital Enabler
Emma has the volunteer role of Synod Secretary in the District
Both are members of The Kairos Movement (a pioneering, non-geographical circuit/church) and also attend Starbeck Methodist Church in the Nidd Valley Circuit.