Too often, the nursery is considered a babysitting service for parents and grandparents. While it is essential to care for the physical needs of infants and toddlers while in the nursery, it is equally important to begin teaching them about Jesus. A baby begins to see the heart of God through the heart of the nursery volunteers. As babies learn to trust the volunteers, they learn that church is a place where people care about us. Although a baby cannot understand a Bible story, volunteers can pray blessings upon each young child as they give them a bottle or rock them to sleep. As babies become toddlers, they can learn basic Bible truths such as God loves me and God made me through Bible stories, finger plays, and other appropriate learning activities.
Here’s what it takes to transform your nursery from a babysitting service to a ministry
- Purpose: What do you hope to accomplish as you feed infants and do finger plays with toddlers? Every nursery ministry has specific goals: every child will be loved and accepted; every child will learn that God made him and loves him; every child will feel safe in the nursery environment; every child will be encouraged to develop acceptable social skills.
- Leadership: A nursery ministry needs capable leadership. Above all, a nursery director loves infants and toddlers. She understands the value of providing excellent ministry to them. A capable director is able to develop good relationships with parents and volunteers. She is gifted in administration and able to develop schedules, procedures, forms, curriculum, etc. to help the nursery run smoothly and safely.
- Established policies: Policies are developed to help the nursery be a safe environment for infants and toddlers. They should be carefully developed and well communicated to parents, volunteers and the congregation. They should be consistently but lovingly enforced. Some of the policies that need to be developed include: age of volunteers, training required for volunteers, types of snacks, discipline plan, sign in and sign out procedures, diaper and restroom procedures, etc.
- Facilities: Your nursery facilities may not be ideal but they can be improved. Provide good lighting, paint walls and furniture, organize toys and equipment, and remove clutter. Above all, keep the nursery clean.
- Trained workers: Select workers carefully by using a children’s ministry application and referral forms. Train them by modeling appropriate ministry to nursery age children as well as by providing books, podcasts, CDs, and DVDs on nursery ministry. Encourage the workers to be involved with the infants and toddlers by playing on the floor with them, holding them, reading or singing to them, and talking to them even if they cannot respond.
With careful planning, your nursery can be a place where children learn about the love of God. There is no greater ministry.
Ideas You Can Use
Prepare the Classroom
Your nursery space should be carefully planned to allow for its many uses- playtime, rest, and care of children.
The number one priority of any nursery is to keep children safe. A safe environment allows for peace of mind for parents and a place where children can feel the love of Jesus.
Recruit with this understanding: nursery ministry is a significant ministry. Nursery ministry meets the needs of babies and their families.
Be intentional in your plan to teach young children, not just care for their physical needs.
Some of the best times to minister to parents are during significant events, such as births or baby dedications.
There are many resources that can help with nursery ministry. Click the button below for a list to get started.