A friend recently quizzed me about my philosophy on playdates. We were actually in the middle of a playdate, and while I had engaged in numerous playdates over the last five years (I’m figuring at least two a week, every week, for five years . . . we’re talking nearly 500 playdates!!!) I didn’t have an immediate answer. Hmm. I did a quick turn-around to buy myself a couple moments, “What have your other friends said?” She admitted surprise at the variety of responses to her simple question— answers ranged from “I do it for me to stay sane” to “I do it for my kids to foster their development.” Hmm.
Of course, I totally resonated with those answers. I definitely benefit from engaging in an adult conversation, and my children certainly benefit from sharing their toys and spaces, yet something about those answers fell flat. Sort of like, those were good reasons, but not the real reasons. So what then is the real reason we carve time out of our day to meet with other moms (or really other women) at the park or splash pad and in our living rooms and backyards?
The answer is incredibly simple and nothing to do with self-care or psychology. We do playdates because of Christ. As His children, God calls believers to do life together. As His disciples, He calls us to reach unbelievers with the Gospel. The best way to engage in edification or evangelism is to spend time with people. As mamas of young children, a great way to carve out time for a fellow sister or unsaved neighbor comes in the form of a playdate.
Playdates give believers an opportunity to do life together. I am ever convicted by the testimony of the early church. These New Testament believers valued Christ, and by extension, each other, above every earthly possession or ambition: “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people (Acts 4: 32, 34). In short, these believers did everything together, caring and providing for each other, united in their love for Christ. But there’s more.
Unity in Christ compels us not only to hospitality and generosity but also edification. We should be routinely encouraging those in the family of God, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). In Galatians, Paul further emphasizes the importance of mutual edification, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (6:1-2). Christ commands us not only to meet each other’s physical needs but also to address each other’s heart needs. If we’re honest, playdates can sour into opportunities to garner pity, vent complaints or share perceived injustices. Instead we should listen, weep and rejoice in the light of the Gospel. We bear one another’s burdens by pointing to Christ, rehearsing His truth, rebuking with gentleness, confessing sin, praying for one another and sharing testimonies of His grace. Living life together means living Christ together right in your living room.
Furthermore, playdates provide opportunities to plant and water Gospel seeds. Jesus was never too busy or too tired to talk to people, nor was He ever put off or surprised by their sin. Case in point, Jesus though weary from His journey approached the Samaritan woman at the well to share a drink with her and offer her Living Water. God calls us to be a part of that kind of ministry—to reach out to the people around us, to be ready always to share about the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15). That hope is Christ. In Him, we have eternal and abundant life. In Him, our sins are forgiven and remembered no more. His life ensures our own. His love covers our every failing. His strength infuses our despairing hearts. Having drunk of the Living Water, we petition others to do the same, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8. When we offer our friend that glass of water, we ultimately hope to share about a better Water that eternally cleanses and satisfies.
Do you have to have playdates? No. However, you do have to care about people’s souls. You do have to establish redemptive relationships that point to Christ. So who are you investing in right now? How are you teaching your children to care for the souls of others? Maybe it’s time to schedule a playdate with that tired mom from the library or the new mom from your church. Or maybe it’s time to be more intentional when you gather with your friends. Either way, consider busting out the cheese crackers and coffee mugs and sitting down with another mama to talk about Life.