Sunday, April 29, 2012

Church Nurseries, revisited

Over three years ago, I wrote a blog post titled "Why I hate church nurseries". Here and there, I still get comments on it, because the subject really strikes a nerve with many people. 

To date, our church neither offers, nor has any plans of ever offering, a "church nursery". To some (especially pastors), this means one of two things: that we either have few families with babies and young children attending our services, or that our church services are a complete pandemonium of screaming kids running up and down the aisle, while a flustered preacher is trying to keep his train of thought. 

Of course, neither could be further from the truth. I venture to guess that we (proportionately) have more children ages 3 and under in our church than the vast majority of churches. For example, our Sunday morning attendance averages between 60 - 70 people. Of these, about 15 are age 3 or under (20-25% of the total attendance). Some churches do not allow children in the services until they are teenagers, offering them "children's church" instead. If we took the number of children ages 12 and under, it would make up about HALF of our congregation!! Clearly, it is not because there are few children in our congregation that we feel no need to make special arrangements for them. 

As far as said children being a disruption and bringing down every service - see for yourself. Pretty much all of our sermons are available online to listen to, or view. The recording equipment is set up at the BACK of the auditorium, so in order for it to pick up the pastor, it is also picking up everything between him and the camera. Since our sermons are downloaded thousands of times every month, I'm thinking they must be worth listening to, to someone. And apparently, they are both intelligible, and coherent.

Are there times that a child becomes disruptive? Of course - including our own! But did you know that adults are no less disruptive? Seriously! Not that this is an excuse - it's just a fact. At least as many adults shuffle back and forth during the service to use the restroom, or get water, as children. Adults are no less likely to have a coughing fit, snort in funny ways,  blow their nose loudly, blurt out comments, whisper with others near them, noisily thumb through their Bibles, unwrap candy, etc. than a little child is to coo, babble, or cry. But overall, disruptions from both adults and children are rare, because we all possess the basic social skills that teach us how to act in a group setting such as church.

In six years as the pastor's wife, I have yet to see the mother or father who stays in their seat listening to the sermon, while  ignoring their crying or disruptive child. Invariably, they are mortified, and quickly take the child to the far side of the building until said child calms/quiets down.

What I am saying is that this is a self-correcting problem. Nobody wants their child to be a disruption to a public event, whether it be church, a funeral or wedding, a family gathering, a picnic - you name it! Kids are there, some kids will have a rough day and act up, and responsible parents take the necessary steps to remedy the situation. It's why kids have parents. Few parents would be so derelict that it would override their innate desire to not allow their children to be a burden to others - and these types of parents don't usually make a point to take their children to church for their moral edification. If they do, these people more than anyone should be encouraged to step into the role given them by God of taking responsibility for raising their children, rather than having their kids ushered off because they as parents are not fit to keep them under control themselves.

So while having children in the service has few, if any disadvantages, these are more than overshadowed by the many, many downsides to church nurseries. To list some:

  • Health: Nurseries are germ havens. Period - there is just no way around it, no matter how well-intentioned and diligent the sanitation efforts are. Not only will the children in the nursery be sharing their own germs, but very likely they are also carrying, and passing around, any bug their older sibling(s) picked up at school or from their friends. Just as illnesses have a tendency to affect an entire family, the same is true for children sharing close quarters, three times a week, for "church". Back when our children were forced to stay in the nursery, and we allowed ourselves to be bullied into complying, they were always sick. I remember my husband got five sick days, and five paid vacation days per year,in addition to 8 paid holidays. Yet, he never once had a day off just for the fun of it, because he always ended up having to use all his vacation days as sick days after picking up one illness after another from Solomon, and later Isaac as well. Long before the year was up, he would run out of all sick days and vacations days, and be forced to either show up to work severely ill, or take unpaid leave. Both were terrible options. I was often missing church, staying home with sick kids. When they finally got well, it would only take one or two services before they were back home and ill.
  • Safety: Yes, this is (or should be) another major concern. These days, many churches assure parents that they do "background checks" on all nursery workers, and that may well be true. Of course, I have heard a pastor claim they did this, and yet the people working in the nursery had never truly been checked up on - I guess having the intention to run a background check sometime was enough. Even so, background checks are not foreground checks. Maybe your child will be their first victim? Furthermore, a clean background check just means a person has never yet been caught and convicted, not that they have never committed certain crimes. In sexual abuse  cases, many suspect that less than 10% of cases are ever found out about. As the wife of a pastor, I have talked to many abuse victims, yet I cannot think of one of them in whose case the perpetrator(s) were ever brought to justice. Wicked people will seek out easy targets. And it doesn't get much easier than young children in the trusting environment of a church family. The Bible explicitly warns us against such "wolves in sheep's clothing".
  • Care: Most parents will provide care far superior to that of anyone else, because they love their child more than anyone else. Besides, few people have triplets, quads, or higher order multiples - yet nursery workers often have as many as 3-6 babies in their care at the same time. It is impossible to adequately provide for so many children simultaneously. One particular nursery at a very large church we went to had a strict schedule of feeding babies, changing their diapers, sticking them in the swing for 20 minutes, and then laying them down to sleep. They literally had dozens and dozens of swings and cribs so all babies could be on the same "step", at the same time. On more than one occasion, I picked my baby up in a soiled diaper, because he happened to go after the scheduled diaper change time (which was at the very beginning of the service - as if kids don't get dropped off in clean diapers, anyway - duh!). Holding or comforting babies was not only impossible with two to four workers for about 50 babies, but it was also discouraged. Babies who cried were laid down to sleep, tummy/face down, with a receiving blanket over their head, to help quiet them. Several children that I know of personally have died in that nursery, during the service, and I cannot help but think that being left to scream was at least partially to blame for such tragedies. Being laid down to sleep on their tummies probably didn't help, either.
  • Learning: Children of any age, including in the womb, are constantly learning. They absorb every word they hear, and everything they see. Though they may be too young to understand a sermon, it still teaches them, and one day all that teaching will sink in and make sense. I heard someone once comparing learning to snow falling on a child's brain - it makes a thick blanket, until the understanding is finally such that the teaching will "melt" and sink into the brain very rapidly. I have been shocked and amazed at what our young children have learned in church, when they seemed as if they were not even listening. Suggesting that babies and young children should be kept out of the services until they are old enough to understand is like saying that nobody should ever read to their child, or sing to them, until that child can understand, speak, and read himself. It is utter nonsense! With that sort of philosophy, reading will be learned much later in life, if at all, and even then only poorly. Before any skill is learned, whether it be recognizing one's name as a baby, to talking, to riding a bike, to helping with chores, to learning another language - there is a need for much practice, encouragement, and correction. It is neither easy nor convenient - but that does not make it any less necessary. How can a child learn to sit still in church, if they are not allowed in church???
  • Segregation: Just as single-grade classrooms offer much less opportunities for learning than the one-room schoolhouse approach did, so age segregation in the service is to the detriment of all, but particularly the younger ones. Furthermore, separating families for church will do little to grow the family spiritually, as a unit. Dad is off teaching junior church, mom is working in the nursery, and the kids are all in their respective classes/nurseries. Coupled with the fact that most families are separated the whole rest of the week as well thanks to work and school, it is no wonder we see families all around us falling apart.
  • Workers: Compulsory nursery often goes hand in hand with compulsory nursery service. Even if they are all volunteers, there is often tremendous pressure and guilting to "volunteer".  Not only are the children missing out on the service, but so are the caregivers. This is one more factor contributing to splitting the family up during the service.
  • Authority: I do believe that the Bible gives pastors certain authority within the church. However, just as the Bible gives governments limited power, so the pastor's jurisdiction is limited. Telling people what job to take, where to live, who to marry, etc. are all not areas in which a pastor can force his way on those in his congregation. Neither is forcing parents to relinquish their child(ren) to the care of others. My husband as the pastor can command only one wife, and six children in our church what to do: those he is responsible for, those who he pays to support, those whom God has given him authority over. Someone else's wife and children are not under his authority. Whenever you have to force people to participate in your program, it probably isn't that great of an idea to begin with.

The bottom line is this: if any church or pastor says they cannot permit children in the service because they would be a disruption, what they should really say is that they have failed in providing an opportunity for children to learn, and for parents to teach. They should say they are too lazy and comfortable to help and do their part in reaching the next generation. They should admit to being more concerned about what some random visitor may think if they heard a baby cry for a second in the service, than they are about the spiritual growth within the regularly attending families. Any pastor who actually forbids parents from having their children sit with them in the service should come right out with the fact that they abuse their pastoral authority to strong-arm, force, and guilt parents into submission when they have absolutely no biblical directive or authority in their favor regarding this issue.

If you/your family is in the unfortunate situation of only being able to attend a church with compulsory nursery, I am very sorry, and really have no good advice to share. Most churches that I know of just try to play the "guilt card", rather than plain force parents into compliance, in which case growing a thick skin and deaf ears may be the best approach. Training children to sit still in such a hostile environment is very difficult, and no matter how perfect the children are, the haters will be many.

Okay, I'm off my soap box for another three years or so.


  1. A number of people I know ban children at weddings after they all attended one wedding where a toddler was allowed to run riot, including running up onto the alter during the service and up and down the isle throughout. There really are some parents that are that bad.

    We are encouraged to take our daughter to the parents room, which is like an unsupervised nursery, but it's basically a playroom where the parents sometimes strain to hear the sermon being piped through the speakers and sometimes give up altogether because of the yelling and playing toddlers. Some toddlers are there without parental supervision despite the rules that kids must be supervised, believing that the church should be providing a supervised nursery service, others have supervision that dosen't care, figure it's a kids playroom, and just leave them to play while they chat with the other women each week. What's the point? You may as well stay home!

    So we stay in the church with our daughter, but that's a challenge in itself. There's one little girl allowed to walk throughout the church who my very social 15 month old desperately wants to follow if she catches her within visual range. When she dosen't we have to deal with people behind us 'helping' to keep her amused by letting her play with their bangles and keys, people beside us who try to hold her without even asking, people in front of us playing peek a boo, and people to the other side offering her snacks through the service.

    Without offending our entire church and isolating ourselves there's just no way to stop these friendly people trying to 'help' us, all the while teaching her bad habits in church. It's a tough line to walk between not offending people constantly and not letting her learn bad lessons. They genuinly think they're helping and if we tell them off we will lose relationships. Without the relationships in a church it's almost not worth attending, to us the fellowship of christians a church offers is one of the most important parts, I can study and worship anywhere at any time, but I can't connect with a church family elsewhere. It's very dificult to teach her to sit quietly in a situation like that though. Everyone else just assumes she will go into the junior sunday school in a year anyway, so we're just keeping her quiet until she's old enough to go out of the sermon. In that context yes, what they're doing makes sence. But making them understand our context is much harder.

  2. ''One particular nursery at a very large church we went ....Several children that I know of personally have died in that nursery, during the service, and I cannot help but think that being left to scream was at least partially to blame for such tragedies.''

    What church is this that has had not one but multiple nursery deaths?

  3. I entirely agree with this post! My husband and I are firm believers in taking our children with us to the church service. If one of them is fussy, we do take them aside. But how else will they learn to sit through a service when they are older if they don't learn at a young age?

    Your pictures are not showing up for some reason. The first one states a link to a website, and the second one has a red "X".


  4. I've never belonged to a church that had a nursery. I was in high school before I knew there were churches that had nurseries. I think children belong in church with their parents,

  5. Hi there, I'm new to your blog. It's so heartbreaking to hear that babies have died in a nursery. It's so hard to imagine :-O

    BTW, I recently discovered your blog. I just love it. It's so "controversial" and yet so normal to me because we have a lot in common, I keep coming back for more lol.

  6. Dealing with similar issues at our church! Driving me insane!

  7. I love your post. Our kids stay with us where ever we are in church. They try to make us feel guilty by saying that we should let our children go have "fun" in the nursery or children churches. I want to know where they get the idea that church has to be "fun" all the time for the kids. People often are amazed at how well my children behave when we attend other events, but they have years of experience of sitting in church with mom and dad.

  8. I fully agree! We will never leave our baby in a nursery. We firmly believe we should worship and learn together as a family. Our church has a nursery for those who want to use it but it is not compulsory. I do plan to take our baby and any future children with us to Sunday school, I don't believe in splitting the children up to learn those lessons either.

  9. Wow, I had no idea "church" nursery" could be so strictly enforced! Our church does offer a "childrens class" (this also serves as the cry-room, where mothers can take their own babies) for toddlers up to age 7, BUT it is up to YOU the parent to decide whether to avail of that or not.

    I would never leave my baby in someone elses care...neither is it expected of me at our church. Of course this sometimes means I miss parts, but someone always fills me in later!

    If Meg begins to make disruptive noise during church (she is getting better at being quiet all the time) I actually do not take in her into the cry room/childrens class, as I feel that might "reward" naughty behaviour...instead I take her outside the building door which is BORING...she wants to go back in pretty quickly and she is quiet again! ;)

  10. I have to say I can see both sides of the issue of children in the main worship service and a more age appropriate service (worship isn't ONLY for teaching).

    And I am fairly quick to come to your defense on most things, knowing that you often exaggerate for effect.

    But I find it hard to believe a nursery had 50 children with only 2 caregivers (how did only 2 people put 25 children apiece down for naps or in swings all at one time) and that several children died in a church nursery - without there being an outcry.

    I don't think churches should coerce parents into using the nursery; it should be the parents' choice.

    Other Sally

  11. "yet nursery workers often have as many as 3-6 babies in their care at the same time. It is impossible to adequately provide for so many children simultaneously."
    So are you admitting that you can't care for all of your children?

  12. Hi,

    While there are several parts of your post I agree with - I am all for multigenerational worship I do feel as though things have been slightly exaggerated in this post.

    First, you seem to blame pastors of churches for keeping kids out of the service. Maybe this is true in some cases, but in all of the churches I have attended I have never experienced such a mandate. Although there maybe children's church or nursery programs available, as parents, we have always felt comfortable making our own decision to keep our children in church and ensure their behavior is not disrupt to others.

    Secondly you mention poor nursery care to the extremes! Really, 2 teachers for 50 babies? That would most certainly be a code violation at the least and I would be skeptical that many moms and dads would be willing to leave their precious little one in a place where they would not be well attended. During my younger years I volunteered in the church nursery and the required ratio was always 2-3 babies per adult worker, which really was very manageable.

    Again, I am very much in support of multigenerational family worship and do believe that removing children from the service is frequently over encouraged, however just to play a little devil's advocated, it is my opinion that you may have gone a little too extreme in your analysis here.



    1. I have witnessed extreme nursery. Crown College had such nurseries, at least around the years of 2005-2006. There are 30 or more babies in one age group nursery, with 2-3 workers. It's insane. We were guilted into putting our 3week old baby in newborn nursery, we got stuck trying to leave the mega church (like 5000people), and the workers left our son screaming in a swing alone. Guess they wanted lunch. These mega-church colleges do have 2 or so workers for an insane amount of children. I have been a worker in nursery alone with 20 children from newborn age to age 5. Never again.

  13. I wanted to thank you for the article you wrote 3 years ago. At the time I was a first time mom, God had spoke to my heart about not leaving my little one in the nursery even though that’s what everyone else told me to do. But I came across your blog and it encouraged me so much. I kept at it, even though some Sundays were so hard and discouraging, and I’m so glad I did! Just this past Sunday in church a new family sat behind us in church and their older son about 14 or so was so loud and making rude comments the entire time. I prayed for their family, and looked down at my now 4 year old who was quietly listening to the pastor and illustrating the sermon on paper, and I thanked God for working in my heart and giving us the strength to go against the flow. People comment all the time about how well behaved my son is at different events, even some of the ones who pressured us to let him go in the nursery years ago.

  14. I totally agree with you on church nurseries. We've never left our son in the nursery, and he's able to behave better in church at 2 years old than most 4 year olds in church, because he's been trained that church is not a place to be loud and crazy. We bring small quiet toys for him (he loves his toy cars) and that keeps him busy without distracting others. He likes to try to participate in singing hymns and "reading" the Bible with everyone else. :)

  15. The particularly horrid nursery I was referring to had hundreds, if not over one thousand, young children in their care each Sunday. Yes, in the 0-3 month nursery, there would be anywhere from 30 to 50 babies in there. And while I am certain they had a rule for a certain ratio of babies to workers, there were many times when I only saw two workers in there, and never more than four. Yes, just a few workers are "enough" if you are only interacting with each child for less than five minutes each, and the babies spend their time being forced into a swing or crib. It was like one of those unreal scenes from hospital nurseries 60 years ago - cribs lined up in rows, and mean old matrons making it their job to "teach" them.

    No, people at this church do NOT speak out against any weird stuff going on. Even in cases of sexual abuse allegations, these are covered up and hushed. Not sure why people allow themselves to be so brainwashed, but they do. If there's any doubt, the leadership can always blame any "slip-ups" on it being "God's will". The parents whose kids died in the nursery continued to go to that church, and even dropped other kids off in the nursery.

    Regarding what I said: "yet nursery workers often have as many as 3-6 babies in their care at the same time. It is impossible to adequately provide for so many children simultaneously."

    No, I do not think that I could adequately take care of 3-6 BABIES simultaneously. Obviously, I am not talking about caring for 3-6 children OF VARIOUS AGES. Which is why I used the term "BABIES".

  16. I strongly hope that either your family or another family reported all this misconduct to the police. Even if the members of that church "allow[ed] themselves to be so brainwashed," don't you think it's not only the godly thing to do, but what a decent law-abiding citizen would do? If babies are dying and are in harms way and if sexual misconduct is taking place, I wouldn't only say something to the pastor of that church, I would take evidence to the proper authorities!

  17. Please name the church where such deaths occurred. I have searched and searched the internet and found nothing at all where there were stories of multiple deaths of babies in any church nursery or even any single deaths and I think it is possible for sexual abuse to be covered up but not the deaths of babies. I have been in church all my life, I have worked in varies church nurseries since I was 12 years old. I agree there were many faults like the churches that allowed young teen girls to be in charge of several babies and small children without any responsible adults but I have never seen anything like you have described in my over 30+ years of working in the nursery ministry. I have only ever been in one church where the Pastor forced women out of the service with their babies as well and I no longer attend that church as I thought his strong arm tactics with visitors was wrong and we parted ways after I let him know this. Our church does do extensive background checks on all workers in our church that work with children not just nursery workers. They don't just say they do they do. It is required for our insurance. We have to show proof that the checks were done. All workers must also go through an extensive interview process with our Pastor and Deacons giving their Salvation testimony and they have to provide references outside their family members to vouch for the character of the people who will be working with the children in our church. Nurseries are not evil they are supposed to be a ministry and there are many many mothers who are thankful for the workers who offer this service to them.

  18. I guess I've just chosen wisely in which church to attend because I have never seen anything close to what is being described here and when they were toddlers I would pop in (unannounced) to see them every 30 mins or so just to put my mind at ease (as they were ALWAYS content so it was just for my own comfort lol!).

    My kids really enjoyed the nursery as a toddler and enjoyed the opportunity to play with children closer to their age than their siblings. They have really enjoyed the children's ministries in our current church.

    As a mother I found the children's ministry of a church to be invaluable. It has made them even more eager for the word to have it delivered in an age-appropriate manner and in entertaining and creative ways. They can sit through a service and patiently wait for it to end or they can be a part of it and do hands on activities instead. We all prefer the latter.

    It also gave me the opportunity to recharge by putting my FULL attention into what the Pastor was saying. It was not only a spiritual recharge but a physical one when my children were babies and toddlers (they never attended daycare). While I can respect that some people disagree with churches having nurseries and an active children's ministry program, I 100% disagree because I have seen and experienced the positive results in the lives of not only the children but their parents as well.

  19. What church did all these babies die in? There has to be some kind of news article on it because every death in the US has to be reported and if 3 infants died due to neglet the police and news reporters would be all over it. I would like to read the news article on it and avoid ever going to that church myself. Please provide the information of which church this happened at so we all can avoid that church and maybe make them change their child care policies.

    Your sister in Christ, DJ

  20. Evidently, I have chosen not to publish the name of the church I am referring to, and I have my reasons for doing so.

    There was a placard up in the nursery for one child which had passed away there before we were attending. This was a "special needs" child, so the "special needs" area of the nursery was named after this child. While we attended, another baby died in the nursery - one of my friend was actually there when the child was discovered dead (under the blanket). I believe this case was ruled "SIDS", though it may have been heart failure. A third baby with a heart defect, which was around the same age as our John so I had seen the mom repeatedly, died after we left. I am certain that all of these incidents were correctly reported and investigated. Given the sheer number of babies going through these nurseries, it would not be strange (statistically speaking) to rule their deaths a result of SIDS or due to a congenital defect/disability. I mean, such things DO occur. I am not saying the nursery killed these babies - I am saying being left to scream, or laid down to sleep on the tummy, or having their head covered with a receiving blanket, did not help protect these children.

    I just did a google search for babies dying in a nursery with that particular church's name, and absolutely nothing came up. Obviously, they are not going around broadcasting it, and accidental SIDS deaths hardly ever make it into the news.

    I am done answering questions about this particular point. If you are that curious, you can poke around my blog to figure out which church I am talking about, then go visit them and see for yourself.

  21. Interesting point. I respectfully disagree--but I get what you're saying. I grew up in a church where all the kids sat in the service. I HATED going to church as a young child--hated it! Then, I became a teen--and every Saturday night before I sat in that pew, I was out partying(along wih most of the other teens in the church). Now I get that it depends on the church. Just as it depends on the children's ministry. Our children love going to kids church. They are growing in their faith because of what they learn there and what we teach at home. At times they chose to stay with us...and that's ok too. I don't honestly care as much about how they learn to sit there quietly for an hour as much as I care about their hearts. Are they developing a true relationship with Christ? In our church, yes! They hear TRUTH whether they are in adult service or kids. The other thing is I love that now my 11year old loves to give of her time by helping in the toddler room. She's learning to serve, and I love it! Really, we all have our opinions--but isn't the most important thing that our kids are growing up in the Word and have an authentic relationship with the Lord?

  22. I am pretty sure I know which church you are referring to and three that you can name is not the "several" that you alluded to in your post. Babies dying at all is a tragedy but the fact that one of these had a heart defect means that child was very sick and his or her death was not the result of being in a nursery but because he/she had a bad heart. He/she could very well have died in his/her crib at home but it just so happened that the Lord took him/her while the parents were attending church. What you describe is not the norm in all or even most churches just because it was in the church you attended in Indiana. You had a Pastor on a power trip and a very poorly run nursery and you have decided that all church nurseries must be evil and full of perverts. I have ministered in many and have never seen any of the conditions you have described and I have never seen any children abused in any of them. Are you also against Sunday School as well?

  23. I bet the kids are well behaved for the most part at your church. Babies aren't dumb. They observe how others are behaving and model that behavior.

  24. I don't know the last thing about church nurseries, but I am tooth and nails against the thought of dropping small children off at nurseries. It's not normal, children should be sheltered by their parents. Maybe it's off topic, but this whole sick, unhealthy 'nursery' thing started with "feminism", which de facto was funded by the rockefeller fundation (no capital letters deserved). The goals were to take small children from their mothers as early as possible, throw them into the indoctrination institutes as soon as possible, get the mothers, the keepers of the home the heck out of their nest so that there would be two taxpayers per family instead of one, and by the way, about the time this all started the Rockefellers laid their hands on medical schools and pharmaceutical companies at the same time. How interesting. Sorry if I was OT, I felt I needed to add this. I would never let my children near any nurseries and public schools, ever. I had to go to kindergarten and public schools, those years still haunt me, I only bumped into sick, violent teachers who only chose to be teachers to take their misery out on children, and the bullying... which most people go through since kindergarten can ruin them for life.
    Have a good day and thanks for the post!

    Worldly Reader

  25. In a church that welcomes children of all ages in the service, it is fairly easy to train your child to be quiet and enjoy church. In churches that abuse pastoral authority with mandatory or guilt-driven nurseries babies pick up on the parents' stress and fuss more. I am glad we finally found a good church where we can relax and enjoy. If you are reading this and church has become a source of stress for you, I encourage you to think about how early negative
    impressions about church could be affecting your baby.

    (A seasoned church goer and mother of six.)

  26. Hello, Thank you very much for 'taking the soap box' on this issue. I agree 110% with you. We were told to leave our church a year ago over this issue. Our children were well behaved and not a disruption. We were seen as 'rebels' who were unsupportive of the children's ministris. We were called 'workers of the devil' for not partaking in their children's ministries. We have since found another IFBC that we can have our children with us in all of the services. This is an important issue that touches on many dangerous areas that could be avoided if parents would stay with their own children. Why would someone leave their child with someone who had to have a backround check? That gives one security... seriously folks?!? Parents are creating an appetite for a different style of church (a watered down one to put it mildly) when they leave their little ones with wishy washy Bible stories and silly inacurate Bible songs among other things. I want my children to grow up hearing a man preacher not a woman preach in junior church. I personally feel there can be an underlying feminist agenda with dropping children off to get a break, as well as when women hold teaching positions while the church gathers together. I have seen nursery workers manipulate even new moms into leaving crying babies against their will. I just think it is horrible! It is just Bibilical and very benificial to have your children with you in church. I am so glad you will never have these programs at your church. I love your blog and FWBC sermons. Thank you for being a teacher of good things.

  27. I'm suprised how many people have not seen bad nurseries... I feel I need to share my story for them as a warning of what CAN happen.

    My church had a nursery type thing for kids between the ages of 18 months and 4 years. We generally had about 10 children in attendance.

    It was supposed to be one adult and one or two teenagers supervising each week. Pretty quickly it became me supervising alone regularly from week to week, as adults wouldn't show up on their weeks, and other teens decided it wasn't 'fun' anymore.

    I was 14-16 during these years, and found myself in sole care of anywhere between 8 and 14+ kids about 30% of weeks. What these parents didn't know at the time was that I was a mentally unstable young woman who was a victim of severe, prolonged abuse. Later on some of that came to light and people had some reason to question me and my safety alone with children, but never removed me from the nursery, even after one assistant pastor saw me having an intense hallucination leaving me completely incapable of external movement and unaware of reality for a good 15 minutes. Thank the Lord this only happened twice while I was in care of the kids and He enabled me to hold on to some very basic function/awareness during those two incidents.

    God protected me and those children, working there helped me so much to come out of my situation, I looked forward to it every week. And nothing bad ever happened, though it did at times come close. But I could have very easily hurt those children, intentionally or unintentionally, and I unfortunately was in a position where I did harm other children outside of the church during the same period. God gave me an at-the-time inexplicable protectivness over those children, but I feel ill realising how it could have been so very very different, and especially once we were moved to an external building, it would not have been hard for us to become another church sexual abuse statistic.

    Yep, I hid stuff from the leaders and I had no criminal history, they had no idea that I had, in fact, harmed children outside of church. But any true sexual predator would hide the same things, but they'd hide them intentionally and far more carefully than I did. For the first year I can understand their trust of me, though leaving so many children in the care of a 14 year old is questionable at best, but by the time I voluntarily left the nursery, I could have and should have been removed from the nursery by numerous people and incidents. Yet no one ever even asked me about my stability with them. Even I knew I shouldn't be in sole care by the last 6 months, and would have told them as much, but I felt like if I left no one would take my place and they needed me. Sure they knew I loved the kids, and if they didn't want to squash that they could have put me in the childrens church where there were always adults present and the ages were 5-9 or 10-13.

    This is why I would never leave my child in care of nursery workers. Not because I think they're all like me, very few people are like me, but the fact is you don't KNOW the person you're leaving your child with at all. You don't leave your kids to be babysat by a new aquaintance except in an emergency, in fact one family I know will not allow anyone except family to babysit no matter how well they know them. Parents assume the church knows the nursery worker to the same depth that they know their close friends, and have approved them in that knowlege, some even assume all the nursery workers are qualified child care workers, but the fact is churches are desperate for people willing to activly participate, and they'll take just about anyone willing to put up their hand, they don't know the nursery worker any better than you do. I would feel safer leaving my infant with a traditional day care center than in a church nursery.

  28. I'm Catholic and I've never known a Catholic Church to even have a nursery. Some have a quiet room but the parishes I've belonged to have not. Babies and children are expected to be at Mass with their parents.

    I cannot imagine any church having a nursery with up to a thousand babies and children. That just boggles the mind. I have a friend who belongs to a megachurch in NC and they don't have anywhere near that number.

    I believe if a baby or child died in a church nursery it would be on the news, and if more than one died in the same nursery there'd be a major investigation.

    Background checks can help protect children. Are they 100% accurate? No. But the fact remains the unsafest place for any child, both for accidents and abuse, is in the home. And parents, siblings, uncles, grandfathers, cousins don't get background checks.

  29. How sad for the parents that lost their little babies, even if it was SIDS and would have happened at home. I think it would be so sad/hard anywhere, but especially if your baby were away from you. I cannot even begin to imagine the sick feeling of being called out of service because your child didn't wake up:-( I am blessed to go to a church that has a nursery (with issues), but it is totally up to the parent to use it. Our Pastor is not easily distracted, so you can bring your infants on up with out it distracting him. We also have a Nursing Mothers room that has a TV so if you need to be in there you still are a part of the whole service. I love it, because the chairs are sooo comfy. Especially after the birth of a child! I don't want to be in the main service and expose my newborn to all the people who try to touch them. Then when they are older if I want to leave them in the nursery I can, and if I don't my NO usher will look at me different or ask me to take my child out. I have heard of churches where a parents was not allowed in the service with their newborn. I think it is crazy that a church would enforce such udder craziness! Yet I know that is done, sadly, many people stop going to church for that reason:-(

  30. My mother and I are in charge of the Sunday School hour of our nursery and we were just discussing how many years ago in churches past I as a very young teen girl was left in charge of nurseries alone. I would be put in charge of children from infants up to 3 years of age and be left by myself on a Sunday night at age 12 and 13 to care for several children. I didn't care at the time, I love caring for the kids and it got me out of what I thought was a boring service but I should never have been left alone with all those children. I was not in any way mature enough to handle any kind of emergency situation and it was entirely unsafe to leave a child in charge of children. I attended churches that thought nothing of leaving teen girls in charge of the nurseries with no adult supervision and that is not right at all. No matter how much babysitting these girls do they are vastly unprepared to handle a large group of babies of varying ages with no adults to help them. I can't for the life of me understand why this should ever be acceptable. The past two churches I have been in the teen girls were allowed in the nurseries of course but they are there to assist the adults, they are not ever left to take care of the babies alone. I love the Pastor we have now, he is very welcoming of little ones in our church, he will just say "Praise the Lord" and speak a little louder. He ever lets his grandson come up on the platform with him. He loves children. Our nursery is there if someone wants it but it is never required for anyone to use it. We have ladies who volunteer to take care of babies for those who want to use our nursery but no one is ever bullied or made to feel bad if they don't want to volunteer for it.

  31. abba12 said:
    "I would feel safer leaving my infant with a traditional day care center than in a church nursery."

    As much as I *hate* day care, I completely agree with this statement. Day cares are heavily regulated. I do know of churches where they follow day care guidelines. But still, these churches are not bound to the regulations.

    We had previously used the church nursery. After personally seeing some things that were disturbing we decided to quit using the nursery altogether. We have not put a child in the nursery in about 2 years. (took our 4th out before his 1st birthday. our 5th has never been in it) It was one of the best things we've ever done!

    I couldn't imagine compulsory nursery attendance, although I know it happens. To me, that would be a HUGE sign that God didn't want us there. I mean, if one of our family members isn't welcome somewhere, none of us are.

  32. Our church offers Children/Youth Ministry from nursery through high school. From nursery through 4th grade, it is offered during 2 of our 3 services. For 5th grade-high school, they only meet during the early hour and then the kids go into the service during the last service. It is by no means mandated and there are parents who regularly take their children into the service. That is completely acceptable and they would never be humiliated or made to leave the church. Our workers are all background checked (although i will agree that doesn't prevent everything), they are also interviewed and their references (both personal and church) are checked. Furthermore, a new person is not allowed to serve until they have attended our church for at least 6 months. Lastly, NEVER EVER is any worker allowed to be in any situation alone with a child. All rooms are designed to have clear line of sight with no blind corners and the restrooms in the preschool area are only accessible from those rooms and the doors are to be left open whenever a child is in there. The restrooms for the elementary aged children are more public but they are swept before a child is allowed to go in and secured while the child is in there..

    Parents are also encouraged, especially with the nursery and toddler rooms, not to leave children who are exhibiting signs of illness and our staff is not afraid to tell parents who bring kids in with runny noses etc that maybe that is not the best option.

    Finally, all nursery and toddler parents are given pagers and if at any time their children are crying and cannot be comforted, the parents are paged to come and pick up their child. I cannot see us ever putting a child in a crib (I am not even sure that our nursery even has cribs) and covered with a blanket to calm down.

  33. Thank you for addressing this and having a church that supports this as well! I felt like the only mom that felt this way about her kids and that I was over protective and if I said something I'd just be a troublemaker and stir up issues. My kids hated the nursery and screamed and were scared and just wanted their mommy. Some might say, "they'll get over it" but do I really want them to? They are babies! They don't understand object permanance yet. They are scared and it's MY job to comfort them and love on them. And I like it. I'm about to the point of not going to church at all and just watching at home, doing church with my kiddos here. Then we'd be together and I wouldn't have to worry about cranky people wondering why my kids are in service. With all the issues with churches now days, I'm sadly to where I just about want to give up- not on learning about my Savior or teaching my kids, but on the American church. Wish we had a church like yours around here!

  34. I believe that children should be in a classroom where they can be kids and learn about Jesus on their level. Listening to an hour and a half long sermon that they cannot understand does not teach them about who Jesus is. At my church, we provide a safe environment where children learn from as young as 1 year old that Jesus loves them, Jesus died for them, Jesus takes care of them, and that church is not a bad place. We sterilize all the toys, vacuum, and go out of our way to make sure that it stays as clean as possible. No child has ever gotten sick from being in the nursery. Also, I don't know about your church, but if the congregation is feeling "guilted" into volunteering to teach the next generation about Jesus, maybe they should re-examine what it means to have a servant's heart. Jesus wanted the little children to come to him. As far as the segregation issue and dividing children by age, this is done to make sure that once again, each child is taught about Jesus on the level that they can best understand. A 5 year old can comprehend much more than a 1 year old can. Also, 5 year olds play much rougher than 1 year olds. Having a wide range of ages in one classroom brings up another safety hazard in itself. The story of picking your child up with a dirty diaper sounds like you have just had several bad experiences with church nurseries. I am blessed to have found a church that takes such great care of their children and seeks to reach the next generation for God! Thanks for the post though!

    1. I found your comment interesting. My oldest son went to a church nursery just a handful of times. After that, we decided to keep him in the service with us for two major reasons: 1) the serious deterioration in his behavior, which ceased after we stopped leaving him there and 2) the children were NOT learning about Jesus. A half-hearted attempt was often (but certainly not always) made to sing a couple of songs and do a very, very short Bible lesson; then, the children were allowed to play for the majority of the time they were there. My husband and I did not want him to get the idea that church was mainly for playing. Since then, our two younger children have not attended nursery (except maybe the middle child ONCE?), and they seem to understand much better that church is church and Jesus is Jesus.

    2. I would also like to add that Mrs. Anderson's experience of picking her child up in a dirty diaper is not unique. I know another mother with whom I attended the aforementioned church (which I no longer attend, and which is definitely not the church Mrs. Anderson attended) who decided to keep her three children in church with her after picking up her oldest son one too many times from nursery in a soiled diaper.

  35. Really, I thought they were suppossed to learn about who God is from their parents in every day life, in all circumstances, all day long. Of course I suppose a parent who is a "Sunday only Christian" would need the church to teach them who Jesus is.

    I'm sure that coloring a picture and singing some songs, might be fun for a child, but if you think it's some random volunteers job to teach your child or other professing Christian's children about who Jesus is one or two hours a week, well God Bless those precious children and may God have mercy on you and the other parents when you stand in judgement. Don't usurp other's authority, don't give away your own.

    There are lots of other opportunities for children to interact and play and learn. Sitting through an hour service is OK and even a healthy way to learn some self control. Set the bar high and you might be surprised what the children can take away.

  36. I have 15 month old, and I'm terrified to leave her in our church nursery. I've worked the nursery before, so I see what goes on. I feel like it's really germy in there---some of the workers (who are moms) feel it's ok for kids to eat Cheerios off the floor. I don't want my kid eating food off the floor. They also feel like it's ok to wipe off a pacifier with Lysol, then a baby wipe (to remove the Lysol) and pop it back into a baby's mouth. I don't want my child eating Lysol. Sorry. There is also no running water (no sink or anything), so diaper changes are handled with gloves only (IF the worker actually wears them). Nowhere to wash your hands after a diaper change---and the nursery is usually so busy (usually 3-4 babies per adult, sometimes more), it's too hard to run into the main church to wash your hands. So yeah....probably fecal matter all over the nursery. Gross. The worst thing is, this is a church I like, but I rarely go. I send my spouse by himself most of the time, and stay home with my kid. I don't feel like we're welcome in the service---and she's so busy anyway, it would be a challenge for anyone around us to hear what's going on. I used to be friends with the other ladies who have children my kid's age, but I feel like "I'm the one who doesn't come anymore" so I'm not welcome really.

  37. I have a question about what you do with your children during church. Do you allow them to bring small things to occupy them during church, such as small toys or coloring books? Or do you have them sit unoccupied and listen? I am so out of my element with the whole thing I wonder how to make this work with very young children.


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