This blog is dedicated to all church nursery staff and volunteers! You too are loved!
Where is faith birthed?
What early experiences correlate to a lifetime of prayer and service?
What opportunities are we overlooking or missing or failing to maximize for congregational vitality?
These are the questions that occupy me, especially on my commute to and from Shadow Rock UCC. As a parent and as a church staffer in the area of faith formation, these are crucial inquiries.
A couple of years ago, we were struggling with a mid-week after-school program. So many families couldn’t commit to regular attendance, and adult volunteers available 4 pm to 6 pm on a Wednesday were hard to find. For a time, we had a low-key program with several activity centers that required minimal adult direction. Different and often more cynical questions were asked: are social and play-oriented activities worth investing in? what kinds of experiences do kids need in the midst of the school week? where’s the proper balance between relationship-building and content for children’s faith programming?
In the end, we discontinued the program, but the period of questioning bore fruit for me. A vision for what children must experience in their spiritual community emerged: Church is where people love me.
I’ll say it again: Church is where people love me.
Church is where I am LOVED.
These wacky people really care about me!
When my teenage son was a wee Cub Scout, he got a little note from a church member congratulating him on a successful scout food drive. Under her signed name, she wrote (one of the church people you probably don’t really know). When I asked him about it, he said, “Of course I know who that is. She says hello to me every week.”
All of the life of faith, all service and care of people and creation, and all growth in faith, understanding and spirituality – the whole of what we do! – hang on this kind of experience. There will be time later to learn Psalm 23 and the Beatitudes, time for skits about Jesus calling the fishermen, even time for wrestling with Romans chapter 8.
But it starts in the nursery. The warm safety of the place, the gentle hands of nursery workers and volunteers, the opportunity to make connections and first friendships… for babies and toddlers, it’s their first Sunday learning.
So this week, show some appreciation and gratitude to those people who make this wonderment happen. Hug a nursery person. They might be a little sticky (or worse!), but it’s worth it.