Intergenerational Ministry, Nursery
How Your Church’s Nursery Can Become an Incubator for Intergenerational Ministry
November 1, 2016
Updated May 8, 2019
1 comment 554 views
Maddy is 2 and a half years old. She looks forward to Sundays because she gets to spend time with her friend Melissa who is 14. They became friends through their church’s nursery. The nursery is one of the places in this congregation where sturdy intergenerational ministry happens almost every week of the year. It is in these cheerful, baby safe rooms that pre-teens and teens learn how to be babysitters, counselors in training, and perhaps one day, future parents themselves. They learn from folks who have experienced the joys and challenges of being parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers and friends to young children. It is also a place where tired parents find solace in casual conversations with others who have walked the same path as they. Every Sunday volunteers participate in both faith nurture as well as childcare, creating many relationships that will last well into the future.
That nursery programs hold this much intergenerational ministry potential is often overlooked in churches where nursery is viewed as the hard to staff, catch all for kids who can’t be, or don’t want to be, in worship. Many a time I have heard volunteers share that they spend as much time “babysitting” the pre-teen volunteers as they did the 2-year-olds. In reaction to this challenge, some nurseries establish rules stating only those 16 and above can do certain tasks like pick up crying infant or toddler, effectively making younger volunteers even more ancillary.
Years ago as a parish pastor I saw my own congregation struggling with these same challenges. Our solution? Have the pastor teach a Better Babysitter Course. And I am so glad I did! Never did I see more willing and engaged students.
You ask, what pastor has time to teach such a specific class that seems so fringe to their ministry? A variety of things motivated me to teach this class: 1) the opportunity to interact with a demographic of my congregation that I didn’t have much access to due to the way our church programs were set up. 2 ) a Nursery volunteer shortage as older volunteers were asking to be taken off of the list and the younger volunteers were being underutilized, and 3) the potential to change our younger volunteers’ motivation “ to get out of worship” which made them less of an asset.
How did the Babysitting course help?
Teaching the Better Babysitting course was a great way to train and support our youngest volunteers in an multi-generational setting. I wonder what other venues we might be overlooking for this type of activity?
Let’s talk! For more information on how to start something similar in your own congregation, email me at [email protected].
Faith Nurture, Intergenerational Ministry
Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.Add Your Post
I heartily agree that nursery is a great opportunity. At age 62, I find myself more able to take my turn in nursery and it is delightful. I get to know the babies and small children, and to work and have conversation with some adults and teens that I probably would have much conversation with.
I think older members, especially men, miss out on a lot if they decide they are past the age and "circumstances" of being on nursery rotation.
We love your comments! Thank you for helping us uphold the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.