Throughout the Bible, Jesus calls us to love one another. When disciples try to keep children out of the way to make space for Jesus to do “real” ministry, Jesus firmly asks them to let the little ones approach. Children are naturally drawn to love, so it is no wonder that they wanted to press in as close as possible to Jesus who IS love.
In addition to that, children aren’t the only ones who need to see love in action in nursery ministry. Parents, staff, and volunteers need to be able to feel that they are loved and cared for as well. And though it sounds simple enough, loving all these people can certainly be a challenge. We’re sure to miss the boat if we don’t take the time to intentionally plan and purpose ourselves to put love into action.
The logical next question is “What does real look like?” fortunately, there is a beautiful, poetic description in the Bible:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NRSV
When people begin in ministry, it seems like this famous “love passage” from the Bible will be simple enough to follow and obey. It doesn’t take long before our eyes are open, however, to just how difficult it can be to love all of the people in this way all of the time. It may be shocking to discover that some people are harder to love than others. There are babies who can seemingly cry for hours on end, toddlers who appear to ignore the meaning of the word “no,” unreliable team members, demanding parents. Behaving in a loving manner requires a great deal of focus when we are tired or emotional or just plain weary. Scientists have discovered that self-control is a limited resource for humans (Muraven, Tice, and Baumeister, 1998), so it stands to reason that the more we have to work to show love to those we are in contact with in the nursery – the harder the act will become.
Instead, loving in the nursery requires a special type of intentionality – a purposeful approach that begins with realizing a simple (yet profound) basic truth: We do our best, as imperfect as we are, to model God’s love for others. God equips nursery caregivers with unique gifts to love and serve children and their families. The way that we are going to be able to love the people in our care will be through looking at them as precious in the heart of Jesus.
Once we are determined to have a loving nursery ministry, there are some specific practices your team can adopt which will help make this love clear:
- Praying for loving hearts
- Designing a loving environment
- Planning loving lessons
This is an excerpt from our free ebook resource “Building an Intentional Church Nursery”, download the full ebook here, for more tips on creating a nursery filled with security, love and Communication.