Over the past several weeks, we have been working to update our nursery as we seek to utilize our facilities and our children’s ministry in a way that is God-honoring, purposeful, welcoming, and safe. I have received advice from various people that work in early childhood education, feedback from young mothers that utilize our nursery, and I have visited other churches to gain perspective on how we can improve and utilize our current space. Based upon those observations and feedback, we are targeting two areas of need.
Safety – As culture shifts and concern for safety increases, it is imperative that we address those needs as stewards of what God has given to us. Having peace of mind that infants and toddlers are safe and secure allows our young families and visiting families to focus on worshipping God while in church. To accomplish this, we are having locks put on all the doors to limit access to one entry. Additionally, shelving has been moved, and a gate has been installed which will keep children away from the doors. Broken and hard-to-clean toys have been removed, and a soft gym with padding has been added.
Hospitality – Our nursery is an expression of our hospitality to visiting families. Young families will feel uncomfortable and less likely to return if our nursery does not appear safe, secure, and sanitary. To make families feel more welcome and at-ease, counter height shelving has been moved to the front of the nursery, with a gate installed, so parents can enter into the nursery and have a face-to-face conversations with our nursery workers and to have a more accessible view as they entrust their children to our nursery staff. Toys have been removed from the floor and stored in shelving to present a cleaner, more inviting look. Additionally, improvements to our nursing mothers room will be made to be more secure and inviting.
Changes are not always easy, and nursery improvements will be an on-going process, but it is my prayer that we view them from a gospel perspective. In Becoming a Welcoming Church, Thom Rainer writes, “Certainly the leaders of these churches desire clean and safe churches for obvious reasons: they want a facility that is safe and clean. But they have a bigger vision than that. They realize many of the guests will not be followers of Christ. And if the leaders of the church can demonstrate they care about the safety of those who visit, those guests may very well return. And they could very well hear and respond to the gospel (pp. 63-64).”