When I was a single young adult, I volunteered in the nursery rotation at my church. I wanted to serve in some capacity at church, and there were always openings in the childcare areas. I enjoyed playing with the cute three-year-olds once a month when it was my turn, but I couldn’t have realized at the time how much that small act of service might’ve meant to tired parents.
In most churches that I have been around, the parents of young children fill many, if not most of the childcare roles: nursery, Sunday school, youth programs, special activities, and the like. And it does make sense for them to do so, because, well, those are their children.
I’m going to sound super selfish and insensitive here, and maybe I’m alone in this, but one of the last things that I want to do on Sunday mornings, after I’ve been with my young children 24/7 every day of every week, is to teach them (and other people’s children) in their Sunday school classes.
I know that’s a really awful thing to say, and maybe I truly am the only one who feels that way, but I have a notion that I’m not.
When my kids were young enough for the nursery, I dutifully took my turns there, (usually) without complaining, but what I really longed for on those Sunday mornings when I was exhausted and dry and lonely was to sit and absorb. To be filled back up. To fellowship with GROWNUPS.
Can anyone relate?
Here’s what I’m getting at, and this is going to be a bold statement: Parents with young children shouldn’t be asked to serve in the children’s area.
If parents have a real desire to help with their children’s classes, that’s a different story. Maybe some sincerely enjoy it. Maybe work-outside-the-home moms treasure that time with their kids, or maybe dads who are away from home a lot get energized by leading their kids’ classes on the weekends, but if I had to guess, I would say that the majority—especially stay-at-home moms—just want a break from kids for a few minutes.
There are other areas of ministry in a church that don’t involve children….bookstore, parking, bookkeeping, sound board, greeting, worship team, women’s ministry, prayer team, hospitality, and on and on. For me, anyway, things like this sound more stimulating than draining to my spirit during this season of my life.
If I could speak to you singles, you young couples without children, you empty-nesters, you grandparents, and so on for a moment, I would tell you that the most amazing ministry in the world would be for you to fill all of the childcare roles in the church so that young, exhausted parents could have a respite.
I know that you empty-nesters have “served your time” and maybe you’re tired, too. You might even think that you’re not needed anymore, but I can assure you that you are.
Not only that, but you have unique and wonderful things to share with our children. They hear from us all of the time, but God might want to use you to pour into their little lives. Please don’t deny them the opportunity to receive what you have to offer (please). 🙂
Since my youngest child is now five years old, I’m far enough removed from babies to enjoy serving in the nursery again. I miss having little ones, so it would be a pleasant thing for me to cuddle babies and toddlers again sometimes and allow their parents to have a break.
At the small church where my family goes, my precious mom teaches my kids’ Sunday school class each week (I taught for a while, but after homeschooling all week, I was less than motivated to teach Sunday school, too.). She pours into their lives and loves on them and teaches them about God and His Word. I’m eternally grateful for her ministry to my children, but even more so for how she ministers to me by teaching them. It’s cool how that works.
“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” (Proverbs 11:25 The Message)
“If I could speak to you singles, you young couples without children, you empty-nesters, you grandparents, and so on …”
Be careful with this though – I am a single adult and currently going through a time at my church where it feels like I am only there to serve and have no other purpose or place that I fit – I run the youth group, I play in the worship group, I’m on the Sunday school rota, I run courses for adults, II help out at holiday clubs and messy days etc etc. I love doing these things but something has to give – I’ve recently tried to come off the rota for the Sunday school but have been told no as there aren’t enough other volunteers – I’ve tried firmly 4 times now so I give up! If it’s inferred one more time (or even said to me!) that as a single person I have more time to give I may scream. Yes, I may not have a family at home that need my care – but I have a full time job where I work 60-70 hours a week, I have family 200 miles away that I visit regularly, I have a house that won’t clean itself and food that won’t cook itself etc… I sometimes get to church exhausted and just wanting the space to come and be, but it’s just not happening at the moment!
This is not meant to be a rant at you at all, your post makes perfect sense. Yes, I agree that people should take turns at various seasons in life and certainly have a break with very small children – but be careful placing the responsibility at the feet of those exhausted at life in other ways or frankly, just don’t have that Sunday school calling or gift (like me!)
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments and for your valuable service! We certainly need to hear your perspective. I pray that you will find the rest that you need so that you can continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the areas where He calls you. Blessings!