Having had to do a lot of recruiting when I worked in a church, I am well aware of common attitudes toward being a nursery worker. For some it was an easy way to get involved … just babysitting. For others it was viewed as a hardship … they did their time and didn’t want to be stuck in the nursery.
I quickly picked up on three hurtful perceptions about being a nursery worker that needed to be overcome:
1) These young children were not seen as an important age group to serve. Ouch!
Babies can’t learn the Bible, it is argued, so they aren’t an important age to invest into ministry-wise.
Here’s why this perception is hurtful:
- Infants and toddlers are not too young to learn. They might not be able to do an exegetic study of a Bible verse but they are getting a sense of the kind of God we have and how good it is to be a part of His Church. Why wouldn’t we want to be strategic in making sure they are getting the right impressions?
- Jesus thought little children were valuable enough to take time for them out of His busy schedule (Matt. 19:13-15). If Jesus viewed them as precious and in need of His touch, why wouldn’t we feel the same today? Some of the attitudes toward serving in the nursery must grieve His heart.
Let’s value infants and toddlers in the Church. Let’s invest not only our time and effort into training these young ones but also our hearts.
2) Being a nursery worker was not seen as an important role to fill. Ouch!
Change a few diapers, play with them a little, feed them a bottle, and put them down for a nap. That doesn’t sound like ministry, some might think, just care-taking.
In part, I believe people feel this way because they don’t understand the role they can have. They view themselves as babysitters, someone to free the parents up to attend classes or services. Even if that is all that’s to it, they would have an important role to fill.
But, nursery workers have a much more important role than that if they see themselves as foundation builders who prepare children for what is to come, affecting their attitudes toward God and His Church. Laying a foundation is extremely important as seen in the construction of a building. Jesus told a parable contrasting the effects of a storm on an edifice built on a firm foundation and one that was not (Matt. 7:24-27).
Lest you think being a foundation builder isn’t important, take a look at Scripture. God’s “own hand laid the foundations of the earth” (Isa. 48:13). The Church was built on a foundation (Eph. 2:19-22). Our future home, the heavenly city, is built on a foundation (Heb. 11:10; Rev. 21:14,19). If God views foundation building as critical, why wouldn’t we see the potential of this kind of role in the nursery as important?
Let’s expect more than mere babysitting. Let’s elevate the role of being in the nursery to true ministry.
3) Serving in the nursery merely fills an immediate need. Ouch!
Somebody has to do it so we don’t have crying babies in the worship service, right? Parents need to go to their own classes so somebody needs to take care of their children, right? While nursery workers do fill an immediate need, this motivation for working in the nursery is hurtful because it is so short-sighted.
As we’ve already seen, nursery workers have the potential of laying a good foundation in the lives of these children which can affect their future relationship with God and His Church. Think of John the Baptist who had the important ministry of preparing the way for the Lord Jesus. He was not the Savior but was used by God to develop pliable hearts ready to be introduced to the One who would save them.
The foundation laid in the nursery will be built upon by teachers to whose classes these young children will eventually be promoted. It’s a similar concept to what we read 1 Corinthians 3:10 — “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.”
Let’s approach the nursery with a view to the future. Let’s “build with care” and lay the foundation in these young lives “as a wise builder.”