Monday, November 07, 2011

Why I love working in the nursery

Ruth is looking forward to helping in the nursery
Many people think of the nursery in church as the least enjoyable ministry; a necessary evil to be endured.  Some believe it's completely unnecessary, because people should make their kids behave and that's that.  I disagree, respectfully, with both of these opinions. I thoroughly enjoy my time in the nursery every Sunday morning, and I think it's a very important supportive ministry.

I'm not under delusions either.  I know it can be tough.  My age group is birth to three.  Yesterday, I had two screamers, a little boy who couldn't handle the noise of the service, and his brother, who wanted to run about and holler and play in the service.  Both of these youngsters are individuals made by God, and He brought their family to church that morning.  God wanted the parents of these boys to hear how they could be saved.  While I know that very young children in Christian families can be taught to sit still and behave in a service, children like these two precious boys keep their parents from hearing anything at all, and their parents just don't know what to do about it.  Without a nursery, frustrated parents of misbehaving children usually walk out the door after church for the first and last time, never to be seen again.  Instead of judging them and shaking our head(you know the attitude, "What is this world coming to?"), why doesn't the church come along side them and try to help?  Why don't we try to comfort the children, let them know that we care about them, give their parents confidence that we love them as a family and wish to be a blessing?

For the one who does nursery work out of duty, thinking that it's not that important, let me say this.  Arron and Hur held up the arms of Moses over the battle.  Remember the story?  Joshua was fighting, and God wanted to bless.  He commanded Moses to raise his arms with the rod of God over the battle and stay that way throughout the whole campaign.  While Moses tried to do this, he got tired in the heat of the day.  Instead of criticizing the weakness of their leader, Arron and Hur ran to him and gave him all the help they could, so God could give the victory, helping him sit and holding up his arms.

 As a worker in the nursery, I believe I'm doing exactly the same as those men did for Moses.  While our pastor holds forth the Word of God, I work in the sidelines,  showing love and tenderness to the children of the families God brought to church that day.  I know it's not easy to preach the Word of God, and crying infants and children make it much harder.  It's also very hard for a parent, or anyone sitting around a parent, to listen while they try to keep their babies and toddlers quiet.  To me, it's a holy thing to protect the atmosphere of the sanctuary while a man of God is preaching.  He is fighting a spiritual battle, wrestling with the souls of men and women, pleading for God's people to give God their all, for the lost to find salvation.  I am holding up his arms, providing a loving place for children to stay, while their parents and devote their attention to the message God has for them.  As a mom myself, who has placed my babies in nurseries all over the Western United States, I know the difference a loving nursery environment makes on a baby and the baby's mom!

Now it's normal for a baby of around a year or more, who has never been separated from mother for a moment to experience uncertainty and fear the first time they are placed in a nursery.  This doesn't mean they are being damaged, but a wise worker is understanding of their very real fear.  Babies learn through experience, and they need to know several things;  1.  Mom is coming back.  I have not been sold to these strangers forever.  This understanding is only gained by seeing it happen a few times, so patience is necessary. 2.  The people here are happy, they love me, and it's fun to play here.  3.  Finally, as they start enjoying every week, these little ones need to know that church is a fun place to learn about the Bible.

For a person serving in this ministry there are a few pitfalls to avoid, things that will increase frustration and hinder patience.  We are here to show God's love, not judge a child's lack of discipline.  Go in expecting children to misbehave at times.  Even kids of parents who discipline them faithfully will try things in the nursery they can't get away with at home, just because mom and dad aren't there.  Remember that we are each one born with that ol' sin nature.  This nature actually delights in wickedness, which might help us to understand why a three year old dimple-cheeked angel snatches a toy he didn't want previously from someone, and when he doesn't get the reaction he's looking for, he smacks his victim with it for good measure.  He isn't the devil incarnate, he's just a sinner like I was before I was saved.If this is your ministry, and you are struggling with having a loving and peaceful attitude, ask God to help you!  Don't settle for doing any ministry with a bad attitude.  You know, you will lose an eternal reward if you do that!

By the way, children of visitors, who often don't behave well, often are more frightened and destructive, often make the whole experience trying for the nursery worker, also often stay longer than anyone else's children because their parents might be receiving Christ as their Savior after the service.  This is exactly what happened to my two little screamers yesterday morning.  For the small part that I was able to play, I pray this whole family will come to know my Savior and walk in His ways.  It's an honor to be in this ministry!

1 comment:

redneck preacher said...

Amazing wisdom. It it were my choice I would make this mandatory reading for all those in college wanting to work in church.