Read / Feature

Reaching families & children with the Refresh Café

The Refresh Café of St Stephen's, East Twickenham, offers a unique drop-in group for families of the area. The pioneer behind the project, Caroline Montgomery, shares her vision for offering adults a space to be physically, emotionally and spiritually refreshed.

Refresh Café is a drop-in group for families – but with a difference,’ explains Caroline Montgomery, pioneer of the Refresh model. ‘The focus is on refreshing the adults physically, emotionally and most importantly spiritually with a five minute ‘thought for the day’ where we share something of God’s love for them in a gentle, relevant and accessible way. The adults feel like it’s their morning. A place where they are welcomed, encouraged, and refreshed, that is also fun for their little ones. And where they might encounter God, perhaps for the first time.

‘As churches we welcome many families into our toddler groups but don’t usually have a specific focus on helping the adults connect with God. Most groups are set up with the emphasis completely on the children. But we sensed that God wanted the adults, the parents and carers, to be introduced to Him at this key time in their lives, so 11 years ago we pioneered our Refresh Café; a new model for welcoming and connecting with families.’ 


Since its launch, Refresh has flourished, proving to be an effective model to be missionally intentional in reaching the parents and carers in the community. Families that previously were not part of church have started attending on Sundays, many becoming Christians – and their journeys all began with Refresh. Caroline has received a wide range of positive feedback from Refresh guests:

‘I always walk away from Refresh feeling mentally, physically and spiritually refreshed. The mental and physical refresh comes from the environment, with the spiritual refresh coming from the ‘thought for the day’. The opportunity to stop, listen, think and reflect on someone else’s story and faith, allows me to reflect on my own faith and spiritual journey.’

‘The main difference between Refresh and other play groups is the attention the team give the parents and carers.’

‘It’s the highlight of my week. It really feels like a place for me where I can connect with other adults in a space that despite being busy with children, somehow always feels peaceful!’

‘It’s a bit of a unique experience, I don’t get that anywhere else.’

If you want to know more about the Refresh model to reach out to parents and carers your community, Caroline would love to hear from you. A book, detailing the vision for Refresh and practical guidance on setting up your own café, is also available.

As Refresh shows, sharing the love of Jesus with others in a new way doesn’t have to be complicated, but can be hugely fulfilling. Why not find out more about pioneering and how CCX can help support you.