BIG DAY – The Hardest Volunteer Position To Fill (and the Most Non-Glorious One, Too)

My grandma either loved babies or hated church, because she served in nursery almost every service for over 30 years. At least every Sunday night, except when my family came to visit her, she was in the nursery, changing diapers and soothing babies’ tummies. Her disproportionately large hands hugged the colicky baby’s belly, holding the infant face out against her chest as she paced through the nursery, as faithful as a guard at the Arlington Cemetery.

She listened to her pastor’s preaching through the nursery intercom system, and always felt that the best place she could be was on the stinky side of a dirty diaper. New Testament Baptist Church of Tucson, AZ, and Pastor J. C. Joiner loved her for it, and often tried to honor her by recognizing her faithfulness. She hated that. It was rewarding enough for her to see her little babies grow up, stay in church, and send their own babies through the same nursery at the same church. Grandma Rench never saw her service as a big deal, but everyone else did.

Nursery is vital to having a distraction-free church service. Without babies crying (or at least making weird noises at inopportune times), congregants can worship God in a more undisturbed environment. My wife will attest that there is a distinct difference in her spiritual life when she has to miss a series of church services to tend to her baby. Humans are designed by God to be worshippers, and He has set aside a day each week to worship Him in church. Missing out on that worship time is like taking a 1/7 chunk out of the spiritual bread that was available that week. The nursery is one of those wonderful ministries that calls for the sacrifice of some for the benefit of all.

Since teens are more easily distracted than adults, we host a nursery for the Preaching Rally. The preaching of God’s Word is primary that day, and all our detailed preparations are meant to allow God to speak clearly and effectively.

Imagine this scene: the preacher is preaching on a particular sin that 14 year old Kevin has been struggling with. God’s Word is piercing his conscience and convicting him, slowly convincing him to turn from his sin. The congregation stands to pray, and he tightens his fist around the pew in front of him. He hopes his shaggy hair hides the beads of sweat around his temple. He looks for every excuse to ignore the Holy Spirit, but he knows he must get things right between him and God. Just as the singing is about to start, behind him, a baby lets out a grunt and “downloads” into its diaper. The mom is embarrassed as the whole row of teen boys in front of her starts to snicker, some of the boys barely stifling their laughing. Kevin is distracted. Eh. Whatever, he thinks, and he stays in his pew.

I wish this were a melodramatic exaggeration, but it hits pretty close to home. Potential distractions are everywhere. The nursery is one of those tools that we use to remove at least a few would-be distractors.


One of our volunteer sign-up sheets is for nursery workers, two slots per session (three sessions, six slots total.) We allow our guests to bring their babies to the nursery, but we do not promote to them that we have childcare, as it is primarily for our church workers who are serving elsewhere in the Preaching Rally. This sign-up sheet is definitely that hardest one to fill, as we do not allow teens to miss our Preaching Rally services to serve in nursery. At times, perhaps a paid position might be in order, considering the fact that the nursery workers miss out on all the excitement of the rally while being stuck with a bunch of “downloaders.”

Our nursery workers arrive 15 minutes before the services start, switch workers at each session break, and break for lunch as parents retrieve their kids for the pizza break.

Overall, the nursery is a HUGE blessing, and our nursery workers NEVER get the praise they deserve. Thankfully, like Grandma Rench, they do it all for God’s glory anyway. Praise Him!