Let’s take a moment to talk about building spiritual foundations with babies and toddlers. We know that the nursery is so much more than just a place for babysitting. Babies and toddlers have an amazing capability for understanding the most important truths about God–and we have the honor of helping introduce those concepts!
Here are three things to keep in mind when thinking about babies in your ministry.
1. An Inviting Nursery. Before diving into the subject of babies, does your ministry have a place parents feel comfortable leaving their small children? In her article, Not My Baby!, Children’s Ministry Magazine’s Managing Editor Jennifer Hooks explains why many parents skip the nursery. Their reasons may surprise you. Make sure to take the quiz at the end…it can really give you insight to what visiting parents are looking for. (And check this article to find out more about what new parents need from your nursery.)
2. Volunteers Who Know They’re Making a Difference. Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking there’s no real reason to try to minister to babies and toddlers. But let me ask you a question…what’s your earliest memory? Were you younger than 3 in your earliest memory? Most people can’t remember many things from that early in life. But let’s take a closer look at your memory. What skills and abilities did you have in your memory, like being able to walk or talk? Most find that they learned to do a lot of things before they started remembering specific events. And odds are you can still perform those specific skills. The things we learn to do early in life don’t form specific long-term memories, but they’re skills we never forget. That’s how transformational the stage from birth to 2 years old is. And that’s how important your ministry is. You’re making such a huge difference, and we want to help you continue to help babies know Jesus!
3. A Commitment to Share God’s Love. Joyce Meyers holds a Ph.D. in early childhood education and has taught classes on early childhood education at Dallas Baptist University. Joyce agrees that even at this young age, children can start taking steps to spiritual growth.
“Relationships are central to healthy spiritual growth in the lives of the very youngest,” says Joyce. “Infants and toddlers bond with the parents, grandparents, teachers, and other caregivers who look after their physical and emotional needs. Because adults care for their needs, infants develop a sense of trust. According to the psychologist Erik Erikson, infants who successfully learn to trust develop hope. And Hebrews 11:1 tells us, ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ In the first two years of life, the foundational concepts of spiritual formation-trust and hope-grow.”
She offers some simple tips to share God’s love with kids this age. As children learn to talk, help instill words of our faith such as God, Jesus, Bible, and pray in their vocabulary. Include infants and toddlers in spiritual activities such as worship and prayer. And tell children constantly that Jesus loves them. You can read the rest of her article here to get more tips and tricks to help foster spiritual growth.
How do you help the babies and toddlers in your ministry grow spiritually? Let us know in the comment section below.