by Heather Marble/ November 26, 2015
As a children’s pastor, one of the most important areas in our ministries, I believe, is the nursery. First-time parents and guests need to feel that their baby is being taken care of and is safe and loved in order for them to feel comfortable dropping off their precious little one. When they know that those three things are happening, then they can actually fully attend the adult service and hear the message.
The nursery is the first experience a child has with church. It is crucial to create a positive and loving experience. Nursery workers are so unbelievably important. We have to not only show them that we value their service, but also look for the right people to be in our nurseries.
1. Are they welcoming and caring? Parents, especially new parents of babies, need to feel welcomed and know that their child is going to be cared for and loved. Those first impressions and first interactions are so important. So, ask yourself a couple of questions… Is this nursery worker someone that you would feel comfortable leaving your own little one with? Do they smile? Are they friendly? Are they caring?
2. Are they concerned with safety? Parents not only want to feel that their baby is going to be cared for and loved, but most importantly they want to know that their baby will be kept safe. So, will they keep an eye on the baby and not on their cell phones? Will they adhere to the two-adult rule? Will they keep an eye on all of the babies in the classroom? Will they make sure to check tags when parents pick up their child? Safety is huge, and making sure someone understands and is willing to follow all the rules your nursery ministry has set up is important.
3. Do they fit with your team? Are they honest with you? Do they respect the vision of the church? Your nursery team is special. Using discernment to make sure that your nursery workers get along is important. It is important to look for people who will not use the time as a chance to gossip or talk poorly about the church and leadership.
Will they be someone you can trust and depend on? I learned this the hard way early on in ministry. In my early years as a children’s pastor I had a lady who really wanted to serve in the nursery. After I interviewed her and her background check passed, I set her up on the schedule. I had a slight uneasy feeling, but everything was ok on her background check and her references came back fine. She had started in the nursery and served several weeks during one of our services. Within a couple months of her serving, I had one of my key teachers call me and ask if they could switch to a different classroom. Through the conversation I realized that a few more of the nursery team were getting ready to call and ask to be moved to different classes. I learned that the new worker used her time in the nursery to complain to other workers about the church. The importance of your team is crucial, and maintaining that health in your classroom among the adults is very important. The adults set the tone in the room. The nursery is not a place for gossip, but a place to invest in the next generation and families.
4. Are they willing to adhere to service expectations and be on time? Nothing makes me more anxious and gets my heart racing as a kids’ pastor than Sunday morning at 8:45 a.m. when the nursery doors should be open but they aren’t because the team isn’t there yet. Upfront, the nursery volunteers need to understand the expectations of arriving early and staying until the last child is picked up.
5. Do they have a heart for nursery ministry? This one is important to me. Do they have a heart for babies and toddlers, or are they just trying to get out of service? Nursery ministry takes heart and passion. It is about more than just babysitting. It’s about sharing the love of God with them while they’re in your care. So, it is important to see their heart and make sure they are not just serving out of duty but because they want to make an eternal difference in the lives of kids and their families.
Will a new nursery worker show all of these traits upfront? No, probably not. But it is important to know that they are teachable and can grow into the call God has on their life to serve the little ones.