Q and A: Kids and the Nursery

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babypewHi there– I was wondering if you had written any, or could direct me to, any interesting articles on nursery use during worship. Thank you!

You could ask 100 ladies this question and get answers that are all over the map. Since you asked me, though, let me give you my strong opinions about church nurseries:

  1. Since we don’t find the word or concept in the scriptures, a nursery room in a church building (“church building” being a term that’s also absent from scripture), then a nursery has to be an expedient and not a necessary element of a faithful church. Thus, if the existence of a nursery impedes, rather than enriches faithful worship in a local body, then it should not exist.
  2. Sometimes infants and toddlers impede faithful worship during the time in which parents are training them and it’s a great thing to have a place where parents can go and teach practical worship lessons along with  appropriately punishing when children are purposely disobeying during worship.
  3. I believe it is a mistake that breeds very negative consequences when a nursery or cry room is turned into an alternative to sitting still and being quiet,…i.e. a fun place to go and play while worship is in progress.
  4. I believe a child who is misbehaving in worship and knows he is misbehaving in worship should get a spanking every single time a trip to the nursery is made. ( I know there will be a lot of disagreement here, but I’m pretty settled in my heart about this one.) I’ve seen many children who push the limits of crying, laughing, whining and wiggling in worship, only to stop it all and smile as the parents get up and grab the diaper bag. They have accomplished their purpose of getting to leave the place where they have to be quiet and go to the place where the fun and toys are waiting. This is not good training for worship.
  5. I believe it is sinful for nursery attendants to visit and talk about random topics while they are watching the infants. They should be a part of the worship in every way possible. The sound system should be turned up in the nursery and they should be singing and praying and listening. What a very difficult thing it is for a young nursing mother to enter the nursery with her hungry newborn only to realize there’s a conversation going on there about the baby shower being planned for next Sunday night and the recipes that are being made. (There were times when I simply dreaded taking my babies out for a feeding because I would have to be the only one singing and praying in the nursery. That’s awkward when all your friends are having a pow-wow or a play date!)
  6. I believe parental training for worship is FAR preferable to baby sitting services. I know churches with complete child care forms to fill out for worship times. These forms include family discipline policies, allergies, etc….I believe children who are old enough to be left with others for playtime are old enough to be learning a lot from the worship service. Children can be impressed with what a baptism looks like, learn the tunes and some of the words to hymns, learn reverence during prayer time and start figuring out how to contribute before they are a year old. Why would we want them to miss this young time of immersion in the sights and sounds of worship that will become building blocks to faithful adult worship? I’m so glad our children had this infant training.
  7. I believe a toddler should have to sit just as still and be just as quiet in the nursery as he would if he were in the auditorium. If my toddler had to be carried out, he knew that was a very bad thing. He expected a spanking and then he knew he had to sit very still until he could re-enter the auditorium with the very least disturbance possible.
  8. Nurseries, to be most expedient, should provide a very quiet and private place for nursing mothers. But members should not mind if tiny babies are nursed beneath blankets on the back row of the assembly, either. This is a very natural and modest way to be inclusive in our worship. I cannot imagine God objecting to this.
  9. Members should also be very understanding and patient with mothers and fathers who are doing their best to train their children to be reverent during worship. Bringing our babies into the assembly of worship is sometimes difficult and sacrificial. Older members should encourage and help out when help is welcomed.
  10. We should avoid having groups of Christians separated from the assembly and the worship process for the purpose of childcare. Worship, in scripture, is both a requirement and a privilege. We should want to be offering our best to God at all cost. The parent’s nursery, where a parent can go, for a few moments, discipline or feed while listening through technology, and return is a pretty efficient way to avoid taking adults out of worship while, at the same time, keeping our children in the worship arena for training as much of the time as possible. In congregations in which the elders choose to have attended nurseries for infants, those who are caring for the babies should be worshiping, too. With today’s technology, there is no reason we would have it any other way!
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