I don't know if there's such a thing as a "theology of nursery," and if there is, I might not be the best person to post here. But I love nursery, and I love theology, so I thought maybe I could get a discussion going. Here's just a few thoughts:
- Nursery provides parents of young children the opportunity to worship and be fed with God’s Word without the distraction of children who are too young to sit still and pay attention. In this way we show Christ’s love to parents of young children.
- Nursery is also about showing Christ’s love to the children themselves. In the CRC booklet “So You’ve Been Asked to Serve in the Nursery” the author points out that “when the physical, emotional, and developmental needs of little ones are met in the nursery, the process of teaching them about God’s love for them has begun.” How true! Even infants can tell when they’re loved. In a large part because of nursery, I can't remember a time when I didn't know the love of God expressed through the Church. I wish every child could grow up with that.
- This is a service that we provide not only for member parents and children, but also a way that we accommodate visitors with children. Without a nursery, many visitors would get the message that we simply do not have a heart for young children. To be sure, I think we also need to respect that many visiting parents won't be comfortable leaving their children with strangers. Nevertheless, having a nursery communicates that we are thoughtful toward the needs of parents and children.
- Lastly, nursery should be a way for you to use your gifts in serving the Lord. Helping in the nursery as an older child was probably the first opportunity I had to serve the church. As a pastor I've rarely been freed up to serve in nursery, but I miss the opportunity! Playing with two-year-olds and holding infants didn't make any of the biblical lists of spiritual gifts, but spending quality time with little children is a gift, and it can be quite spiritual. Even Jesus enjoyed it (cf. Matt. 19:14).
Blessing to all who serve so well to immerse our youngest children in the love of God and Church.
I once took my 3-year old son to a vacation Bible school at a church in the neighborhood. The woman who ran the program welcomed me and shared with me her mission, as she saw it, and I never forgot it. She said, "Our goal is to love these children right into the kingdom of God." What a great mission that is!
Amen, Scott! When my kids were little we had a very special 'regular' grandmotherly woman in the nursery - and as mothers we knew that no matter if our children cried, fussed, were 'angels' (or not), they were loved by Jessie! You're right - what a ministry.
Nursery is one of the many ways we can be intentional about intergenerational ministry within our congregation. There are some Sundays in my home church where there are 4 generations represented in that one room.... and they are all doing ministry together.
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