The church nursery can be both a blessing and a curse to us parents of young children. The blessing is that it exists and is staffed with awesome workers who love the kids and want to give them a good church experience. The curse can come when you or your child is not ready to use the nursery, but you feel like you “should.”
I have limited experiences with church nurseries, because this is my first child, but I think the one at St. John’s is particularly nice. The young ladies that staff it are cheerful and kind, and always ready to engage with the kids or keep an eye on the independent players. There is an effort to make sure all the children are comfortable, happy, and having fun. It’s great knowing that while you are focusing on the sermon, your child is being well taken care of and maybe even making a few friends – friends that will hopefully be with him from the nursery, into Sunday School, and then into the main worship service itself. Maybe they’ll both be acolytes or torch bearers. Perhaps they will serve on a committee together one day. But, even if none of that happens, I’m glad for one more good relationship that can root them into the family at St. John’s or the larger body of Christ.
However, some children (and some parents) are just not ready for the nursery. My son is one of these. We have tried to use the nursery several times and the results were not the best. We have found that it is more distracting to put Asher in the nursery, because we are always waiting for the inevitable tap on the shoulder that summons us to retrieve our upset toddler. For this reason, we’ve decided to forgo the nursery for now, and try to integrate him slowly, at a pace that is comfortable to him.
Some parents may also choose to keep their children in the main service because they want the little ones to grow up learning how to behave and pay attention in church. This is a decision I can respect and understand. Children learn very quickly, and I have seen and heard our youngest members participating in some aspects of the service already. Of course, some noise and movement comes with the territory, but nice to hear a little “amen” peep up from the back pews now and then. They get it!
Whatever your decision is, my hope is that families with young children will understand that the nursery is a true blessing for their convenience, and not a subtle suggestion to take that noisy child out of our hearing. You don’t have to feel the curse of guilt if you choose not to use the nursery, no matter what the reason. Children are welcomed at St. John’s in whatever capacity they and their parents feel comfortable with. If this means using the nursery, great! If it means coming into the main service, great! The important thing is that you are there, with your child, and we are all building relationships with each other and with God.