Use these creative ways to teach babies in the church nursery and help them learn about God.
Point That Finger
While pointing may be considered an impolite gesture, for babies it’s a critical building block for speech development. Pointing is a nonverbal way to communicate and teaches babies about back-and-forth communication. A baby may point at a cup and an adult’s response will be, “Do you want the cup?” Not only is the baby communicating a need, but the adult’s response also places a word with the desired object. Help babies build their faith vocabulary by pointing at these items while children are in the nursery:
• Jesus-Point to a picture of Jesus and tell babies his name. Associate the relationship we can have with Jesus by sharing affirming truths as you point: “Jesus loves you, Kelsey,” or “Jesus protects you, Tyler.”
• Church-Display a picture of your church building or go outside and point at the building, telling babies this is the church where they come to learn about Jesus.
• Bible-Point at a Bible and say, “That’s a Bible. It teaches us about Jesus.”
Birth Announcement Wishes
Let everyone know when a new baby is born at your church and create a special memento for the parents at the same time.
Ask new parents for a photo of their newborn and the baby’s vital statistics, such as birth date, height, weight, and name. Then create a decorative birth certificate with the information and place the photo and certificate behind a mat board. To download a certificate template, go to www.childrensministry.com/birth. Hang the announcement in your nursery check-in area, and encourage families to write congratulation wishes on the mat with a permanent marker.
When the mat is full of good wishes, place the entire birth announcement in a frame and deliver it to parents as a gift from your church families and nursery.
Little ones learn to be kind to each other as they share this bear. You’ll need a stuffed bear and a timer.
Introduce a stuffed bear and tell kids they’ll each hold the bear during class. Give the bear to one child and set the timer for three minutes. When the timer sounds, the child chooses someone who hasn’t yet had a turn with the bear.
Talk about caring for and sharing with friends. Remind kids that Jesus wants us to be kind.
One of our children’s ministry values is excellence. We’d worked hard to achieve this value for several months by enforcing our security policies and requiring parents to present their identification tags before we’d release their children. One morning I got to experience just how far we’d come in our goal toward excellence-and how much our pursuit spoke to a visiting family.
My granddaughter is a nursery regular, and since I was just outside the nursery as the service dismissed, I decided to pick her up. The volunteer immediately asked me-the children’s pastor-for her identification tag, which I didn’t have since her mom had checked her in. The volunteer decided to have some fun with me and said, “No tag, no kid, no exceptions.” She reinforced her position with a playful smile, saying, “Your rule, not mine.”
Had I insisted, I’m sure she’d have released my granddaughter. But she was right. If I wanted commitment to our security policies, then I had to follow them, too.
“You’re exactly right,” I replied. “I’m no different than any other parent, and I’ll be right back with her tag.”
Walking away, I noticed parents behind me smiling at the situation and I hoped it would send a firm but humorous reminder of our commitment to keep kids safe.
I discovered later that week that the church had received a letter from a guest. Her family had witnessed the exchange between the volunteer and me. She wrote:
“I was amused as I watched the volunteer refuse to release the children’s pastor’s granddaughter without her identification tag on Sunday. We’ve visited a number of churches and have been concerned about the lax approach toward children’s safety. While many churches have some type of check-in system, few actually implement it. When the volunteer at your church refused to release her granddaughter, the children’s pastor affirmed her enforcement of the security system and went to get the tag. I was shocked-and impressed. My husband and I decided right there that we’ll be making your church our new church home. It’s so comforting to know our children will not only be learning about God but will also be safe in your care.”
What began as an attempt to have fun with the children’s pastor over our security policy actually became a transition moment for a family-and for our church. It’s an important reminder for everyone to set an example of excellence in ministry-and it starts at the top.
Colleen Oglesby is a children’s ministry consultant and has served for more than 30 years in children’s ministry.