Every church that wants to attract and keep young families knows that they must have a first class nursery staff and facility. While well balanced church growth covers folks from a wide span of ages, young moms and dads are the most likely demographic to be seeking a church home. If your nursery ministry and facility come at the end of the management list, your church will struggle to keep these vital new attenders.
A nursery ministry must be more than just a baby sitting service. Here are three thoughts to use when you get ready to upgrade this vital piece of the ministry.
Don’t look for folks to just hold babies.
When a church is small and there is only one or two kids you can get away with this. It is often a trusted aunt or grandma that is staffing the nursery and everyone is happy. But as a church grows, this must change. The nursery adult-to-child ratio must obviously increase, but you also need to add a new skill set to the mix—management.
Parents that drop off kids are looking for more than a baby holder, they are looking for someone with attention to details. Which bag is which? feed or don’t feed? diapers or pull ups? fussy or fever? and on and on! As the number of small ones increase, the number of big problems can get out of hand. Here are a few ways to tame this monster.
- Staff level treatment- Address these issues with administrators and not just nursery workers. Meet during the week and not just during nursery times.
- Create good procedures and paper work systems. Take time to work on it, and and not just in it. Midweek planning will help solve weekend disasters.
- Train all workers. Grandmas and aunties will push back on this, but insist everyone knows and follows the predetermined rules and regulations of your nursery.
A nursery is really for moms and dads.
Like many facets of a growing ministry, a nursery has “customers” and “indirect” customers. The main folks that get the biggest attention, are of course, the babies. But the real customers are the moms and dads. Here is why.
- A baby will come in and go out with not much of a fuss (hopefully), but a delighted (or disappointed) mom will make the decision that counts. Keeping those babies happy and dry is often much easier than satisfying a picky, clean-freak, safety conscious parent. The wise nursery manager (that’s right, I said “manager” not baby holder) will be critically aware of who the real customer is when a new mom walks through the door holding that baby, diaper bag and satchel full of various snacks, bottles and favorite blankets. The first impression of managing all the special needs will go a long ways in developing a satisfied and returning customer.
- Additionally, by focusing on and then delivering a top-totch nursery experience, a ministry can align themselves with the most trusted vocation in our society—the childcare provider. A family’s personal babysitter ranks as high as you get with the trust factor. Why shouldn’t a church make every effort to be positively associated with this vital element of a young mom and dads everyday life?
The nursery worker’s real work is 100 feet away.
While the little creepers and crawlers are corralled in your safe, secure and sanitized nursery (listen to the free audio: What Parents Look for in a Church) the real action is over in the main church service. It is here where parents can sit, listen, sing, worship, fellowship and grow unhindered. None of these important elements of becoming a flourishing believer can smoothly happen if worry and concerns about their little ones overwhelm them. A well staffed and well managed nursery creates what we call a “Worry Free Zone” (podcast). In our church the WFZ exist about 100 feet away in the sanctuary. Wise nursery workers know creating this zone is one of their most important jobs. Here are five tips on creating a WFZ.
- Clearly identified workers and nursery procedures.
- Smooth check in procedures.
- Big people literature showing policies and security measures.
- Sanitary and clutter free first impressions.
- Emergency communication method clarified.
FREE Church Nursery Handbook
Download your FREE 11-page "Nursery Guideline and Procedure Handbook" (PDF format) Just enter your email address and we'll buzz it right over to your email inbox!