Have you ever looked forward to Sunday as a time to go to church and renew your spiritual batteries? I know I used to! It was nice to catch up with friends, too, but the spiritual encouragement from Sunday school, morning worship service or other services just seemed to help me make it through the week.
THEN, I had children!
Instead of being in the morning services, I was in the nursery feeding the baby and then trying to get back into the service to grab a little bit of spiritual revitalization. Some of the time it would work and it was great. Sometimes I had to work in the nursery (we have at least 2 workers in there every service) and I would resent it. Why should I drive 30 minutes to church to sit with my own child/ children in the nursery? Isolated from others? Maybe I could listen to the service over the audio system. Not with a room of excited children and noisy toys!
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BUT then one vacation we went to church in another state and I got a new view of the nursery.
I signed my very active 2 ½ year old and my 6 month old into their nursery and left both children happily playing. It would be nice to hear another pastor and meet some new people I thought. A minute later, someone came and asked me to go back to the nursery. I hurried back thinking that either something had happened or one of the children was crying. Imagine my surprise to get back there to get lectured by the lady in charge of the nursery. “Our church has a policy that only children younger than 2 are allowed in the nursery. Two year olds need to learn to sit quietly in church and listen. You need to have your child with you in church.”
“I am a visitor,” I patiently explained. “My child is not able to sit still in church. Would she please be able to stay in the nursery so that I could listen to the church service?”
I received another lecture on child-raising and the importance of teaching your 2-year-old to sit still.
“I understand that is a great goal. But my child is very active and this will not work for us. I am a Christian and I can stay out of the service with my child; however, I am a visitor. Do you mean to tell me that you would tell any visitor this? You would deny them an opportunity to hear the gospel and be encouraged from the Bible, just because their child is two years old?!”
“Well, that’s our nursery policy!”
I admit, I was upset. I went into the nursery and scooped up my 6 month old, slung the diaper bag over my shoulder, and grabbed the two-year old’s hand.
“Oh, you don’t have to take the baby out. She can stay!” said one nursery worker.
“Absolutely not! She is not staying in here with you.” And out I marched.
The church service was already started. I took the children out to the parking lot and stalked angrily back and forth. After a while I calmed down and we looked at the flowers and played a bit.
After church got out the pastor’s wife came over. “I’m sorry. I heard there was a problem involving your children staying in the nursery.”
I thought that she had come to apologize, explain some communication problem, etc. Oh, no—she started right in with explaining their nursery policy, how important it was for children to learn to it still in church, etc.
“Wait a second!” I interrupted.
“Is that what your church primarily teaches? How to have 2 year olds sit still in church? Don’t you preach the gospel? Don’t you preach the good news that God provides salvation? I am a visitor! You don’t know me or my spiritual condition. My child is not able to sit still in church- she is a very active child. But you kept me out of church because of your nursery ‘policy‘ (I probably really emphasized that). Instead of being flexible, you kept me out of church! I really think you need to re-evaluate your ‘policy!’”
(Imagine me storming out about this time.)
Now, later, I can look for the lesson.
For me, the lesson was never to complain about serving in nursery.
- Moms work hard all day, every day.
- Moms need a safe place to leave their children when they are at church.
- Moms need to be able to concentrate on the Biblical message of the service rather than on managing their active, small children in the service.
There is plenty of time to have children sit in church when they are capable of doing so. Some children are capable of this at a young age, but most are not. I don’t think that churches are separating families during worship- I think they are ministering to the needs of each person on their own level.
Nursery workers have a HUGE ministry to the moms and their children!
In nursery, we have the “Days of Creation” on the wall. We talk about the Lord, we sing good Christian songs. If a mom is in there with her child (consoling a crying child, breastfeeding, etc.), I try to encourage her by talking about the Lord. I am not idle when I am in nursery- I am busy impacting lives for Christ!
Nursery is a vital ministry of the church.
I know, because when this ministry was denied me, I realized its importance. That day motivated me to serve regularly in our nursery. So if you are “stuck” in the nursery again, thank you! You may never know what a blessing you are some mom.