Thursday, February 24, 2011

Church nurseries - good or bad idea?

About two years ago, I blogged on "Why I hate church nurseries". Seeing that our church has grown a lot in the meantime, and that we now have a lot more young children and babies, as well as several expectant moms who will contribute to the steady addition of more little ones, I thought I would share a little update of what church is like when there is no nursery.

This past Sunday morning, we had a total attendance of 68 in the service. Of these, 11 were in the newborn to 4 year-old range (the typical age at which children are put in the nursery). That is a relatively high percentage of babies to adults. The sermon was, as usual, about an hour long, bringing the total length of the service (with congregational singing and announcements) to somewhere around an hour and a half. 

So, how did it go? Contrary to popular belief, it was not a circus. The children were not loud and disruptive. Our family was the largest one in attendance, with six children ages newborn to 9 years old, all of which I was able to care for singlehandedly without disruptions/outbursts, or having to leave the auditorium. Is this unusual? Hardly - all the children in the service were from families who attend regularly week after week.

How can this be? I believe there are several factors that make having babies and children in the service enjoyable for all those involved. 

  • Start young:  We all know that babies are able to hear while still in the womb. Those of us who go to church 3 times a week, have all experienced that our newborn babies are usually soothed to sleep by the preacher's voice - a familiar sound to them. I have heard of expectant parents reading "Cat in the hat" to their unborn children during the last months of pregnancy, so that they would then be able to soothe the baby after birth by reading something that has become familiar to the baby. Surely, preaching not only can have the same effect, but be more beneficial on a spiritual level.
  • Accommodate mothers: Having comfortable seating options in the auditorium for new moms is a very welcome luxury. We currently have only two gliders set up, but I have been meaning (and needing) to purchase more. Why? This will allow them not only to cuddle their youngest and rock them to sleep, but also accommodate...
  • Breastfeeding: Yes, you read that right. Our church does not ban mothers from feeding their babies in the service, or anywhere on the premises for that matter. I feel weird even writing this, but sadly, the reality is that in most churches ladies would be ushered off the premises if they fed their child, notwithstanding the fact that most states give mothers the right to feed their children in any location in which they are legally allowed to be themselves. Now, I am not at all in favor of ladies feeding indiscreetly. I am currently nursing our sixth baby, and have never yet had to expose myself in public in order to do so. There are many options such as slings, cover-ups, blankets, etc. that help make feeding in public discreet - I won't go into that in this post. Why people find the act of feeding itself offensive I cannot understand - there is nothing sensual about it. Personally, I find bottle nipples (note the name) a lot more explicit and suggestive than a lady who is covered discreetly. It sure is a lot less revealing than the clothes worn by many ladies in church these days, such as tight-fitting and low-cut tops. Why does breastfeeding in the service make such a big difference? Because it keeps babies asleep and happy. Because nurslings and moms suffer when they are separated - physically, as well as emotionally. Because it helps babies go from sleeping through the service, to sitting through the service quietly by associating preaching with a time to settle down and be quiet. 
  • Provide an alternative: Of course, there will be times when children behave in a disruptive manner. If that happens, they should not be left in the service to distract the preacher or those listening to him. For times such as this, we have a "Mother-Baby Room". Ours looks out into the auditorium through a large window in the wall, and the preaching is transmitted into the room. In the room, we have a swing, a playpen, an exersaucer, and some quiet toys such as board books and soft toys. For the mothers, we have the most comfortable sofas ever. However, this is not a nursery, because every mom is in there watching her own child(ren). Another big difference is that this room is used as necessary, rather than three times a week regardless of whether the child is being disruptive or not. Typically, I find myself using this room most between about 9 months to about a year and a half. By two years of age at the very latest, children are old enough to be taught to be silent in the service. They may not sit down the whole 90 minutes, but they know that church is a time to be silent. This takes work and training on the part of the parents, which is certainly harder than simply dropping a child off at a nursery, but the rewards of children learning the Bible and hearing real preaching from the womb are well worth those efforts. At our church, men are not allowed in this room, so when Dads take their children out of the service, they usually stay in the foyer, which is open to the auditorium so they can still see and hear the service perfectly well. 
  • Be tolerant: It is amazing to me how much disruption we can put up with from adults, but not children. If an adult has a coughing fit in church, we probably will start digging through our purse looking for a cough drop to help the poor coughing person. Men often yell "Amen" and similar other statements during the service, and nobody seems bothered. Other more inappropriate, but real, distractions are cell phones going off, someone going to the bathroom, hard candy being unwrapped, whispering back and forth, etc. Usually, people just put up with these without saying anything. But woe to the baby who dares coo in church, or smile at a person sitting nearby. I have literally heard pastors saying that babies should not be left in the service even if they never make a peep because their cuteness is too distracting to nearby ladies. Ha! He must have been thinking about my babies! :) Jesus said to "suffer" little children to come unto him, and not to forbid them. 

Now why, you may wonder, would any mother want to keep her babies and young children in the service with her, when there is such a "convenience" as a nursery available? I have found that those mothers who love their children so much that they feel uneasy surrendering them to the care of others during the preaching, are the same who love their children enough to teach them how to act right in church. Those who are slacking in their parenting, or who are new believers and have not brought their children up in church, may certainly prefer a nursery. But there are definite advantages to NOT having a nursery:

  • Everyone is in church: Church is the assembly of believers. If everyone is split up in various groups all over the property, that is NOT church. Especially for families, it is vital to serve the Lord together, rather than with peers outside their family.
  • Children learn the Bible from a young age: Sure, every nursery prides themselves on the fact that the ladies in charge teach Bible truths. The problem is, that these are the most impressionable and important years. I do not want our children to think that church is a place where a friendly lady shares a positive, loving message week after week. I want them to hear real preaching from a man of God. It is amazing to me how much even our youngest ones pick up from the preaching. Even if they only understand 1 or 2 % of what is being said, that is a lot more Bible truth than what they would get from a cute little coloring picture and a positive pep talk in the nursery. 
  • It is safer: Thinking back on the workers in the nurseries that our children attended back before we knew better (about the first 2 years of our parenting), I would say that about 50% of them I have since found out such horrible things that I would never even want to leave our dog in their care. No doubt, there were also many loving, kind, helpful ladies, but the risk is just too great to me. I am not just thinking of something as grievous as molestation. I don't even want our children to be cared for by someone who is an adulteress, or otherwise sets a horrible example. 
  • It is more sanitary: I am not going to elaborate on this point. Think daycare - kids always get sick there. Back when our oldest two used to go to the nursery, they would get sick all the time, causing me to miss many services and making us miserable as we would all get sick from them.
The most common concern about babies and children being allowed in the service is that they will disrupt the preaching, keeping those in attendance from hearing the gospel, or applying the sermon because they will not reach a state of "conviction". 

For starters, church is not for preaching the gospel - that is something that should be done door to door, or before or after the service if there are unsaved visitors. The sermon is for the edification of believers. Even so, I would venture to guess that our church sees more people saved per capita and has members with stronger convictions than any church I have ever seen or heard of. Over 90% of our members go out door-to-door soulwinning regularly. Almost all have high standards in their personal lives, such as having no TV, homeschooling, and men who support and lead their families while the ladies stay home and raise the children that God blesses them with (as opposed to using birth control and pursuing a "career"). Almost all of our members are people that we reached - the "unchurched" - rather than transplants from other churches or those who have grown up in Christian homes. Apparently, having babies and young children in the service did not keep them from hearing and applying the preaching, and making substantial changes in their lives.

I am not saying that having or utilizing a nursery is a sin (although I do think that having a mandatory nursery policy is very wrong). But I am saying that it is unwise. It is also a waste of such a perfect opportunity to attend church as a family, and to just sit and cuddle/nurse your baby for and hour and a half three times a week - I mean, when else would I ever be able to do that in the middle of the daytime? Families thrive when they are allowed to be in church together.


  1. I don't have children yet, but I noticed at our church that there is a parent-baby (similar to the one you described) that is designated for parents with infants. However, it appears to be expected that parents and their babies spend the entire service in this room regardless of whether or not their child is being disruptive. I was wondering what your thoughts were on this. The parents would still be with their children for the entire service, but they would be separated from the rest of the congregation.

  2. I completely agree with you on nurseries, and our old church (which we just left because of issues with the pastor, who is Biblically disqualified) pretty much made the nursery mandatory (but we never put our son in there regardless of the dirty looks I got from the pastor's wife).

    Anyhow, we never had a problem with Nathan being too noisy in church, until just recently. It seems like now that he's a toddler, he gets frustrated when I don't let him down on the floor to explore, and I sure don't want him crawling around the whole church during the preaching! I'm just wondering what you would do in this situation. I'm trying to teach him to be quiet in church, but it seems like nothing is working now. He's 15 months old, so he's definitely old enough to understand. It's just difficult because he cries and throws a fit if I try to keep him quiet, so I have to take him out and miss out on the service (our church is really small, and we don't have any way for me to hear the preaching if I take Nathan into another room).

  3. I've never been too fond of nurseries for a few of the reasons you stated...especially the germ factor, but in reality I still think it's a good idea to have them or some alternative.

    Not everyone has the ideal situation and having someone to care for their child during a service is a huge blessing.

    When I had 4 children that ranged from ages 7 down to a baby, I always kept them with me in church. At that time in my life, my husband wasn't saved and didn't come to church with us. As the baby got older, toddler age, he could not/would not sit matter what I tried. My other children were never like that at his age,or any age for that matter, so I know I wasn't slacking as a parent. I often found myself leaving the sanctuary to take my little guy out, so he wouldn't disrupt. To prevent further disruption I would leave my older 3 children in the sanctuary unattended. They always were well behaved but I was not comfortable leaving them alone. I did stop going to church for a season because of the situation.

    Our church did have childrens' church, but I always preferred to keep my kids with me.
    What ended up working for us was my older kids went to childrens' church,and their little brother went with them too, even though he was too young to be in there. The teacher didn't mind. This was the only way we were able to attend church. I have 5 kids now and my youngest has always stayed in church with us.....I never had problems with her being still or quiet. I was thankful for the option I did have at that time. Not all kids are the same and disrupt because their parents are slacking. My son didn't do well in the wasn't an option for us, but for alot of kids that are like my son, it would be a great option.

  4. My experiences with infants varied (I have 4 grown children now), but I did not have the degree of knowledge about church nurseries that I have now - but mostly they were with me if we used a nursery. As they got to about 2 years old they always joined us in church. To this day my adult children sit with us in the same row. They are not allowed to go sit with friends, though friends are sometimes allowed to sit with us.

    As for training to be quiet - that really has to start at home. We would regularly "practice" sitting quietly in church - never for long times - just for a story or other suitable activity. They were not expected to be motionless - but quiet and stay right near us. (They used to like to play with a little toy right at our feet - or kneel on the floor and color with the pew as a desk.) I never overreacted if the child did act up. If it was just an ugly temper tantrum in the church, then dad took the child out - first time was instruction and encouragement - second time was discipline. I don't really remember more than a second time.

    I also always had a special bag for church. It had some quiet books, toys, or paper and crayons that were not used any other time.These were usually good for 5 to 15 minute segments of time, depending on the child. Usually by about 40 minutes they would curl up next to me and rest or snooze. That was allowed as well.

    By the time they were about 8 years old they learned to pay attention and take notes. We allowed pictures to be drawn as sermon illustrations - they didn't have to be sentence notes. All of this was done in a positive way and required only minimal corrections. The children wanted to please and be like mommy and daddy. They have never resisted going to church.

  5. Our church is baby-friendly with mums feeling free to nurse. and little ones kept in for the service. The problem we have though is that parents of older children simply don't train them to behave so the sermon decends into chaos as 2,3, 4 year olds run and play noisily (ie sometimes shouting and squealing) during the singing, prayers, reading and sermon. I was wondering if your husband has had to preach on discipline of older children in church? I would like very much to know your thoughts as we really believe that children should stay in, but it is a struggle to get your own children to behave when all the others are so lacking in discipline.
    Blessings to you and your family

  6. God bless you for writing this!!!! We are right now searching for an IFB church that feels the same and its not easy to find. We had this discussion on an IFB forum after someone posted some nursery concerns and I posted your previous post on it and I couldn't believe the negative responses!
    Everybody says the same eye rolling lie of how they couldn't live with themselves if their child disrupted someone hearing the Word for the first time.
    Seriously? Why can't they just be honest and admit it's easier to drop them off and avoid the training. Obviously you wouldn't sit there if your child is screaming his or her head off but since when did Church become a place where you had to be put in a trance like state for the Pastor to save people? I'm So amazed at how nasty fellow Christians can get over this issue and fight to keep their children away from them and in the care of sometimes strangers. I think its a deep lying problem with our society that considers children an inconvenience than a blessing. How I pray there would be more churches like yours!

  7. You forgot one - have a paddle hidden under the sink in the ladies room. :)

  8. How wonderful that your church is set up to make it as easy as possible for moms and little ones to stay in church throughout the service.

    Our church has a nursery (in another building) and they can watch the service on a tv screen, but its usually too noisy to hear anything (babies crying for their moms while needing to nap!)This is also the only location of the 2 nursing chairs, which the nursery workers will sit on, even when a nursing mom comes in with her baby. I don't know how many times I had to ask for one of the chairs to nurse my son. I got so fed up I refuse to use the nursery at all (I always stayed with my son.)

    My current issue is that my son is nearly 9 months old, and learning to talk. He loves to talk back to the pastor during the sermon, so I have to take him out. The only place in the main church building is our tiny little cafe room, but then I can't hear the sermon as it doesn't get piped into that room.

    I'd love to know how I can encourage my son to be quiet in church without hindering his developing language skills. I also don't want to reward his disruptive behavior by taking him somewhere that is fun and he can play.

  9. Very well put. I do think there is a time and need for a nursery (like for vistors maybe?) but I also think that it is more difficult to train your child to sit in church after letting them run wild in a nursery for three years. My girls sat in the front row of church quietly while I played the piano since the age of two. It helps to start training them to sit quietly at home for a time each day to help them get use to it.

  10. I very much agree with you on this one but must admit that I have been a bit derelict about this. When I was younger and a new mom, I just assumed that you had to put your child in the nursery or children's program as this is what everybody else did. And then my first 2 got used to that and don't want to join us for services anymore. I know better for my youngest, but he is right at that age where we need a Mommy-Baby room like what you have but do not. He is too noisy to stay in for services but not old enough to discipline about it. He really is just interested and having fun.
    The breastfeeding thing also makes me crazy. People would look at me like I was nuts when I tried to nurse - very discreetly - at the back of the room while listening to services. I think it is because society is so needlessly obsessed with breasts. Get over it, people - my baby was hungry!
    Anyway, although I came to your site via a link from another blog that vehemently disagreed with you, I do find I see eye to eye with you on a number of things, though I am of a totally different mind on many others. Still don't understand the point and obsession (there's that word again) of a woman's submissiveness, and I don't think I ever will. But I like reading nonetheless!

  11. In our church culture children stay during the three hour (at least) service with the parents too. Such a blessing and it is amazing how much they learn.

    I find it sad that as a yung couple you do not have older examples in your church to follow and learn. I have been greatly blessed by the many,many older momma's who have already raised large families and who set an example for me. It keeps me from both discouragement and arrogance on the subject.

    In our churches we also accomadate the Papas. There is a room for Mom's and littles and another for the Papa's and littles.

    I have to say, that I have lightened up much with my youngest. I bring little snacks and stciker books. For us we like it that way. We want our littlest to lok forward to being at church too.
    ~ Blessings

  12. I agree with it all except wonder what about visitors who haven't yet done as well at getting their children to be well-behaved in church. I would think they would wonder why come to church if they have to sit in the mother-child room together every week. Perhaps having someone offer to watch the children for a visitor would be a nice compromise, while telling them children are always welcome in the service.

  13. We recently had our fourth baby. Little Hosanna stays with me all of the time. At church people are very uneasy about this choice. But have not expressed it to me personally. It is definately not comfortable for my Pastor when I bring my baby to the services. I am thankful for a husband who supports me in our decision to not use our church nursery.

  14. Jean,

    personally, I don't see a point in removing children from the service that are not being disruptive. I imagine it would make it harder to get them to sit in the real service eventually because they are used to playing instead.


    keeping toddlers in the service is definitely a challenge. It would be even harder in a church that does not accommodate for mothers to keep their children with them by providing a space where they can see and hear the service without having to worry about being a distraction (such as the back of the auditorium, a foyer, or separate room that is open to the auditorium). I use the mother-baby room for that, but I remember having a much harder time at other churches in the past. :(


    great points and tips! I agree that teaching to sit still in church has to take place at home. Storytime and Bible time are daily opportunities for that, as you also pointed out.


    there have been times when my husband mentioned tips in his sermon on how to teach children to sit still in church. If kids get rowdy or very loud/disruptive in the service, he will "call them down", and ask the parents to take them out, but that is very rare. It is definitely the responsibility of the parents to take the time and effort to teach their child how to behave in church.


    Ha! The "fundamentalists" on the various forums HATE me and my husband. If we said the earth is a sphere they would probably argue with that, just because it came from us. :) I agree with your analysis of the situation 100%, and wish you good luck in finding a good church. Personally, I have found that many homeschooling, non-birth control, "family integrated" churches are off on the gospel (namely, saying that believing is not enough, but that there also has to be a change in lifestyle), while churches who believe right on the gospel are often Nazis when it comes to issues such as Christian school and nurseries. Just my observation.

  15. Stefanie,

    ha! :) What a concept! :)

    Stay at Home Wifey,

    your son is just getting into what I find the most difficult age for keeping littles in the service (9 to 18 months, give or take). My best advice is to try to have him tired for the services, so that maybe he will just fall asleep for most of it. You could also bring along silent toys, such as a board book or stuffed animal. Having a non-messy snack (cheerios, etc.) and a cup can also help keep him busy. But even with your best efforts, there will be times where he will simply want to get around and/or be noisy, and if there is no other place for you to still hear the sermon, that would be unfortunate indeed. But take heart, this stage won't last forever. Implementing a daily Bible reading time and storytime at home, and teaching him to not get up while you read, will help with sitting in church.

    Christy and anon @ 6:50 PM,

    part of the problem with having a nursery is that it requires nursery workers. It is pretty standard to have a minimum of two workers per nursery group, which means that someone is missing out on the service either way. I really cannot say that I have found visitors to have a harder time controlling their children, or benefiting from a nursery. Also, we do not entrust our children into the care of others, at church or otherwise, and would not expect visitors to leave their children with strangers at our church. There is no way for us to rule out bad people with 100% surety, so how could we put them in charge of children in their care? There will always be Judases in church, but we don't have to give them access to children.


    good points, especially about the dads. Right now, we only have one mother baby room, so the dads usually are just out in the foyer, which is completely open into the auditorium. I wish I personally knew an older lady who has more children than we do, or who has experience with what it's like to not practice birth control, and homeschool. I know there are many out there, but I don't have one in my circle of friends that I can look to and learn from. It's very unfortunate. Part of the reason why I keep this blog is to share what I have learned myself with younger moms out there who are also lacking more experienced friends.


    having a supportive husband makes all the difference! So glad you have him to back you up!

  16. Thank you for posting this. I spent most of my life in a tongue speaking Assemblies of God church and they are all about the nursery and childrens programs. It was through my very sweet friend that I realized that I wasn't really saved, she gave me the gospel, I got saved and then I found our church. She went to an IFB church, so I looked for the same.

    I hadn't been to church in about 9 years. Our church had a nursery but not a children's program and I really thought it was a bad idea. My Pastor explained to me that when the children are not in the service he can't possibly reach their hearts. If they are off playing games they are not hearing God's word. However, there is a nursery for 4 and unders on Sunday morning only. We do also have a cry room for moms and little ones and it has a monitor to see the service. I started out with my little ones, then 3 in the nursery. They had never been to church and I had never heard of kids in the service before. After a huge sickness outbreak in the nursery I asked if I could have my littles in the service instead and they said that was absolutely fine. In fact I've seen our pastor scoop up a child who toddled up to him while he was preaching and put that kid on his hip and keep on preaching.

    Anyway, I started keeping my little ones in the service, which is difficult sometimes, but they do a pretty good job. They don't make noise but they do fidget a lot. I don't think that's such a big deal. Up until tonight, I had wondered if they were learning anything. We were learning about Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers and one of them whispered to me "why did they want to kill him?" They really are hearing what is going on.

    I actually feel bad for the times I dropped them in the nursery instead of having them with me. You can never be too careful. I personally know a girl who went to our church who was molested, raped and impregnated by a man and his wife who played the godly child loving couple in their church.
    The wife was a nursery worker and her husband a preacher. Everyone was shocked when they were exposed. You just can't trust anyone.

    I'm going to share this on my facebook.

  17. That you for the suggestions. We do have a daily bible time together and also a daily family devotion, for which my son is really good at being quiet. He will even sit reasonably well during the Sunday School hour before the Church service, but by the time the Pastor starts to preach he has had enough with being quiet. I know this is a passing phase and a part of his development. There are several moms of babies just like me who don't want to use the nursery, but most weeks have to leave during the sermon because their baby is too noisy. I personally think the best solution would be a mom & baby room, but I would settle for a speaker in the cafe room so I could still here the sermons.

  18. Christian Church is meant to educate children, teens, adults and the elderly about what is in the bible. I understand your need to educate children in the ways of the Lord yet I truly believe nurseries and teen groups are the best thing for kids growing up.
    You wouldn’t throw a 6 year old into a junior high class. They have to learn the fundamentals. Many children’s group offer resources to teach children in the way that children learn best, with color pictures and short stories. Children retain more that way. Also I think that a general service is good but it is even more important for teens to be involved in teen groups. This is because small junior high and high school groups relate directly to teens. A place where they can talk about what they are struggling with. Building relationships with kids their own age helping each other.
    It is sad to hear what happened at the one church with the 15 year old girl but most churches run a background check on the people who they employ to work in their nurseries/ small groups I personally think having nurseries and small groups for children and teens is very helpful.

  19. Just being honest here... :)

    I have used a church nursery. I don't really know why. I guess just because it was expected of me. Maybe because I heard other people complain when someone decided to keep their baby out of the nursery. I don't know why.

    We always take our babies out at 18 months. It's been a great, great age for our kids.

    With my first two, I didn't bat an eye. With my third, I think I started to see a bit more. There were four boys in the nursery at that time, ages 24 to about 34 months and another baby of about 8 months. They acted like animals: throwing stuff, running, screaming, hitting, etc. The thought occured, "These nursery workers look very overwhelmed. Is Lydia, who is days old, going to be safe?" Yet I put her in anyway (stupid, huh?)

    Josiah (our current baby) has really been a turning point. I took him out of the nursery at about 16 months. There has been absolutely NO trouble. He barely makes a sound. He sits in my lap, sips a sippy cup and nibbles Cheerios and is happy.

    I have really had a change of heart about nurseries though. I've never, ever liked them. As I said, I put the kids in there just because it was expected. I'm very sure we'll never use one again. I've always had a sort of sinking feeling about leaving my baby. But, trying to see the big picture here, these are things I have noticed about our nursery:

    The cribs are broken and very dangerous (they are even the dropside cribs that have been recalled now).

    Some of the "baby gear" (walkers, etc) have actually been recalled, but is still used at church.

    The toys are very old and oftentimes are choking hazards.

    If a mom brings in a baby with a cold, nothing is said. I guess we're all supposed to be okay with it.

    The nursery workers are usually too busy talking and gabbing to actually watch the kids. 99% of accidents happen because a toddler wasn't being watched.

    The nursery workers seldom wash their hands from diaper change to diaper change and never EVER put a fresh changing pad down.

    I'll stop there.

    Breastfeeding in church is one that gets me rip-roaring-mad! Unfortunately, at our church it is very much looked down upon. We even had a dear family come to our church about a year ago who had 9 precious children. The family had just received another blessing. The mother discreetly covered up and did what new mothers have done since the garden. They haven't been back. I later found out why. Another lady told me this: "I can't believe that she just breastfed her baby right in church like that. I kept looking at her and I made sure she knew how I felt about her "exposing" herself."

    My kids are usually very good to nurse right before church. When I need to nurse at church, I (unfortunately) make a compromise to nurse in the nursery. My pastor's wife had the nerve to actually suggest to me that I do my nursing in the bathroom. As if something God-breathed and instituted were on the same level as defecation!!

    Sorry so long...guess it struck a nerve. :D

    1. Just curious, but if you don't use the nursery or serve in the nursery, how do you know that they don't wash their hands between diapers changes or never EVER put a fresh changing pad down. You can't know that.

  20. I don't understand. Why does there need to be separate Mom-baby and Dad-baby areas? What goes on in these rooms that makes it inappropriate for mixed company?

  21. Kimmie,

    Thank you for re-posting.

    Stay at Home Wifey,

    okay, I forgot about Sunday School, because our church doesn't have one. It's pretty much impossible to have a young child sit through both (3+ hours) quietly and happily. I used to not go to Sunday School when we went to a church that had one. If I was going to have to miss one or the other because of the baby, I figured the main service was more important.


    kids learn so much. I am willing to bet that kids who grow up in the main service know as much and more than any child that goes to junior church/ children's church. It's like immersion learning.


    so sad, but so typical. :(


    good question. There are two reasons: some moms, mainly new first-time moms, are usually much more comfortable nursing in semi-private because they may not yet feel confident nursing "in public" because they don't feel that they quite have the hang of it yet. Second, before we implemented this policy, we once had a man proposition (for you-know-what) a lady from our church in that room. He and his family (including wife and 4 or 5 kids) were traveling through the area and just stopping in for the service.

  22. Zsuzsanna --yet when you go to a big church like me you do not get the same attention as one that a small group offers .Small groups allow you to discuss with your group leader about what you are personally struggling with. Offering groups catering to women in Christ, men in Christ etc. I think children fall into these groups. Children do not need to hear all the things that happened in the Bible. We put the word on their level to stories that they will understand. I remember when my mother would take me to the mass service I could not relate. I was honestly bored and didn’t quite grasp what the pastor was saying. When she put me with the other 1st graders I had a lot more fun and learned a lot more. Why? Because I was being taught to on my level. I was being challenged each week by my Sunday school teacher to learn a memory verse and come back the next week and receive a piece of candy or a new bible in some cases. Programs at church are great and even nurseries. For parents who have fussy babies or toddlers it is a great service to have so the parents and other people can listen to the mass service while teaching the children about the word and singing songs that they can understand.

  23. I attend a family integrated church where all of the families worship together. It is the exception for a mother to step outside away from the congregation to discipline a misbehaving toddler, etc.. My pastor is the father of 10 children and he is amazingly talented at staying on topic no matter how many children are making a "joyful noise unto the Lord". We left the church that we were married in,years ago, because they acted like children were a curse. The one time I left my eldest in the nursery there, I cried throughout the service. I knew I was not supposed to place her in the arms of a stranger, but didn't know what to do. So I started staying in the nursery with her, because she would make a little noise in the auditorium and I would get scowls from the pastor. Then, the pastor's wife said that I should just be the only one on nursery duty, since I was back there anyways. So I was then in charge of a bunch of other's peoples children, when I just wanted to take care of my own. My hubby missed me not being in church with him, so he and I were in charge of the nursery. It was challenging to hear the sermon when trying to entertain a bunch of hyper children. I am so thankful that the Lord led us to a family integrated church where every child is welcomed and appreciated- even during worship time.

  24. We shouldn't be sending our children to church to learn the Bible stories. We need to be teaching them at home and reading the Bible at home. So when they are in the main service they will be able to pick up on what's being taught. So many parents feel it's the chruch's responsiblity to teach our children the Bible. That's crazy!!! Giving our children candy or a new Bible should be somthing the parents do at home for a fun reward, not from the church. Where did this idea of children are stupid and need things dumbed down come from?

  25. I agree with this post. Our church doesn't have a nursery either. Our services run at least three hours long. Of course that doesn't mean we are sitting there the whole three hours listening silently. I usually have two sleeping their morning nap then as well. Anyway...good post!

  26. This is an old post, but I have a funny story to share.

    Recovering Preacher's Kid here...

    My brothers are about 17 years younger than me and I was often responsible for them in church as a teen.

    One day, during quiet prayer during the service, all three of them got down on the floor and started tickling people's feet in the pew in front of us.

    So inappropriate, but no one could hide their laughter.

    I was always well behaved and quiet, it was my innate temperment, but my brothers had a harder time being still and quiet.

    I also worked in the nursery a lot and I always took good care of the babies. So it just depends on the church I think.


  27. Excellent post! We have been kicked out of several churches for having a beautiful newborn with us. It was humiliating and ridiculous.

  28. I'm Catholic. Babies and children have always stayed in Mass with their parents, no nursery. In my Spanish speaking parish many Moms breast feed during church, and no one has a problem with it. As our priest says, God intended babies to be fed this way. Babies and children belong in church, not in a nursery.

  29. While I understand you opinion on church nurseries in general, I do feel as if your opinion is based on the church nursery(ies) that you have seen or experienced, which is not always the case. I personally am a church nursery director and I'd like to add my opinion to this post. While I do agree that children need to learn to sit and listen (this being one major thing we make our older children do during lesson time); you have to understand that sitting and being quiet are not the same things as listening. Children simply do not learn by sitting still all the time. Children need movement and activity, both of which are proven facts. We do activities for all age groups in our nursery to share the gospel with them in a way that they can understand and connect with. Even our babies are being cared by good Godly woman who can pray over them and share small Bible truths while they are in our care. Our preschoolers have traditional lessons where they are learning more in depth things, but in a way they understand. In a traditional sermon setting things are put in adult perspectives and children may not understand what is going on.

    I am tempted to agree with you on the germ factor; there is only so much that bleach can do in a fight against germs. Children are going to get sick no matter what environment they are in, simply because any environment is going to host a new set of germs that children are not used to. While I don't like seeing kids get sick, unless you plan on homeschooling (of which I totally am in agreement with) then your children are going to eventually get those germs. My church has strict policies against us taking sick children and we will call a parent if their child gets sick. I know the old "they're going to get sick anyway" argument doesn't seem like a good one, but trust me in that the sooner they get used to being around groups of children and groups of germs they better their immune system will be to fight off those germs, it just takes a few times of getting sick in order for it to kick in.

    Thank you for allowing us to share our opinions on this matter. I do respect your opinion on it, I just wanted to share my opinion as well.

  30. Mature behavior and adult church is the goal. Maybe children don't like or understand brushing their teeth, either, but, we, as parents, establish the habit for their good. Segregated classes are simply a product of the culture. There is no biblical example of such. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't mean it's sin, but, biblically, it's not even exampled. If it was important to God, it would have been, but, sometimes those of us that opt out are treated like we should know that it is a necessity. It isn't. Our children talk to us more than their friends about what it important to them. They know their friends are novices, and, a room full of novices really do not help anyone's maturity.

    On the physical aspect, my doctor fully encouraged me to keep my kids out of nurseries/daycare as long as possible and I think churches need to rethink promoting their use. Kids in care DO get sick more. I lost a brother in infancy because a child under two isn't fully inoculated and someone infected him with meningitis. He was gone so fast. If he had been in a church nursery/daycare at the time...Sometimes it isn't just the sniffles. The common flu can be deadly to one so little. I'll leave the e. coli transfer to your imagination. It isn't always about just protecting our own child, especially since we are Christians. Phil 2:4 For the same reason, though I cringe, my kids have all their vaccines for deadly diseases. Do all the teens/people that work in your nursery? How about the children? Have they checked? Babies, by schedule, are -never- fully inoculated. And, we have fostered AIDS-exposed babies, so, I'm no germaphobe, or, lacking in faith, but, it is a matter of stewardship.

    How well do you know the people you leave your child with? Would you leave them the keys to your house?

  31. Our church does both-- there are parents who take their babies/children into church with them and there are others who make use of the church nursery (which goes up to age 2-3). Church training is an issue though. We have a lot of young families right now, and though their children are very welcome in church, the parents need to be more responsible and take them out when they get very noisy. My husband is the pastor and has a very difficult time concentrating when there are children whining loudly or crying during the prayers or sermons, and the parents do nothing. It's also very difficult on our seniors and those hard of hearing. I think we need to be balanced and be considerate of ALLl our brothers/sisters in church, not just the young children. Some toddlers are just very active, too, and just aren't ready yet to be trained to sit still and be relatively quiet. Some babies are teething or had a bad night and are cranky for that reason. For some of the babies and toddlers who need it (not to mention some parents who are exhausted and could really use the occasional service to just listen to God's Word without worrying about training), the nursery can be a big blessing. And I'm speaking from personal experience too... I have four children under 6, number 5 on the way, and all my children have been in church from about age 2 onward.
    Another thing too... as pastor's wife, church training the kids is solely my responsibility, as I'm sitting alone in the pew each Sunday. There are others too who are alone with their kids for various reasons. If these had no nursery but had to take their little ones out each time they made noise, it would be very difficult because they'd have to take ALL of their young children out.

    It's a long post, I know, but I thought some thoughts about the benefits of a church nursery could be added to enrich the discussion. :) Thanks for thinking about it, and God bless you in whatever method you're using for your children.

  32. On the other hand, a thought for parents who are afraid of germs... I can see that keeping babies out of the nursery helps keep them healthier, but toddlers? What do they do after the service? They run out and play with each other, hold hands, share items... those germs will transfer anyway. A few families in our church never put their kids in the nursery, and guess what? They get sick just as often as those who do put their kids in...

  33. My church is very family focused and has no nursery, but the lack of nursery has made life so hard for me in the past few months, I just want to leave the church entirely. It was easy to keep him in service when he was a tiny breastfeeding baby, but at 18 months he is very curious, he likes to run and climb and get into things, and he can be loud. Even though my church is very open to having children in the service and nobody has ever said an unkind word to me about it, trying to keep him quiet and self-contained is so distracting to ME I don't hear a word of the sermon most weeks, and I leave completely exhausted on what is supposed to be the Sabbath day. I understand that church nurseries have not worked for you or your family, but they are a HUGELY VALUABLE SERVICE to parents like me who just want to be able to actually hear the sermon once in a while.

    1. 18 months is a difficult age to sit still and quiet for an entire service. Our church has two rooms at the back of the auditorium, with large windows, and the audio piped in. They are intended for a parent to be able to let toddlers walk around and play, while both parent and child can still hear and see the sermon, and feel like part of the service.

      We have just as many dads stepping out with their children as we have moms, making it even easier.

      Typically, these rooms are used mostly by parents of children between 8 and 24 months of age. Maybe you could suggest such a room to your church?

  34. I'm in charge of remodeling our church nursery and came across this site. HAd to comment, don't know why because it will probably not make it. At any rate, I'll start by saying I agree with A LOT of your opinions. Majority of them. For example I feel children should be present in church and use our nursery personally for nursing and discipline only. I stay at home. No TV. Just some examples. However, you are extremely naïve and ignorant to the "grey" areas and I find you blog very off-putting.

    First and foremost, I argue that you, as a pastor's wife, should not even have a blog, let alone one that hits on "controversial topics." I am a conservative Christian who cannot stand the attitude of today that we should only preach Gospel and not the Law. However, it is not your job to be the vessel.

    By having a blog you are inviting aggressiveness (big no-no Proverbs 9:13) and quarrelling (2 Timothy 2:24 The Lord's servant must not quarrel, instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not be resentful) into your home. This is not going to do your husband good in his service and ministry.(Proverbs 31:11-16)

    Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom. And on her tongue is the law of kindness. As a woman, (a pastor's wife at that), your words should be dressed in clothes of the Spirit, gentle and kind. Leave the preaching to your husband. By having this blog, you are acting as a minister of the word.


    Once again, I agree with majority of your opinions. I just don't agree with you having this blog. You are inviting undesirable ramifications into your home.

    1. Do you even stop to realize the hypocrisy of your comment? You are rebuking me, publicly and very vocally, for having a blog that sometimes is vocal and sometimes rebukes? So having a blog is wrong, but posting comments on one is not? Do you have a chapter and verse for that?

      What about Titus 2 - older women teaching the younger ones? Clearly, that is not talking about teaching a class at church (I Tim. 2), but rather teaching through lifestyle, and one-on-one influence.

      Of course I could keep everything I have learned to myself, but I prefer not to be so selfish. There are many ladies who have told me that they were helped, in one form or another, by my blog.

    2. I think it's particularly crummy when someone chastises a pastor's wife and throws it in her face, especially when she is having her own discussion/hobbies/opinions/etc. Some hyper legalistic churches I have come across (who call themselves conservative) think that blogging is the woman's sin of the internet like pornography is the male sin of the internet. Talk about too much.

  35. I was just recently told I had to sit in a closet to feed my baby to protect dads from dropping off their kids in the nursery from being exposed if by some rare chance my nursing wrap falls off at the very moment they come in.....wish we lived in Arizona =)

  36. Wow--I have never heard of a church having a mandatory nursery policy! That's pretty tough! I visited your church's website and saw that you are a "family integrated" church. It's good of you to provide that option to families who want to worship in that way.

    Over the years, I have learned not to evaluate the amount of love a parent has for a child based on how closely the parent's parenting style resembles your own. Two different parents acting out of deep love for their children can reach very different parenting conclusions...even using the Bible as their guide. For instance, I vaccinate my children because, out of great love for them, I do not want to expose them to the risks associated with serious childhood illnesses. Mothers in countries that still struggle with illnesses we never see today flock to get vaccines for their children when they come available, thinking both of the disease and its long term side effects. In my grandparents generation, most people knew of a child who had either died or been crippled by a disease. In my mind, how can a loving parent deny a child a vaccine when the consequences of having the disease are prevalent and dangerous in societies without access?

    You are a mother who clearly loves her children, and you have reached a different conclusion. For me, I've never met or heard of a real child who had a bad vaccine reaction. Most of the information provided by the anti vaccination movement that I have seen is based on widely circulated rumors, relatively small levels of risk (compared to having the diseases), and the satisfaction of not doing something that the wider culture is doing with "educated reasons" supporting the movement. But I will not deny that those parents, in their own way, love their children deeply. The same can be said of those who are comfortable leaving their children in a nursery.


Your KINDLY WORDED, constructive comments are welcome, whether or not they express a differing opinion. All others will be deleted without second thought.