by Tony Tench
“Thinking of God as living only in the past is one of the early mistakes of a ‘child’s theology’ which must later be corrected.”
–William L. Hendricks, Theologian and Educator
The reason behind the thinking expressed above is that since we read stories about God and his work in the world from the Bible, which means “the book,” it is easy for young children to begin to think that God is a historical figure like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. We read about people from the past out of books and so there is an assumption in the young mind that God “lived long ago and far away.” (1) That being so, what we do in the church makes a difference in settling this matter for children. “We can help them to know that God is not only in the past but also in the present. A child has to see living representations of God’s actions in the present to be convinced of this!,” Hendricks goes on to write. (2)
Missy Smith, our Minister of Children, reminded our Deacons this past week of the research in children’s spiritual development that declares a very simple yet profound truth, viz. We are the very first teachers of the right-now-in-the-present-love-of-God when we are the smiles and hugs and voices who welcome children into the nursery of the church on Sunday mornings! Yes, we are the first “representations of God’s actions in the present” that children see when they experience the investment of our time and joyful interaction with them in this place their parents bring them called “church.” The joy of serving in the nursery is all about being among the very FIRST to do what is FIRST and foremost for human life — celebrate the right-now-in-the-present-love-of-God who lives today as creatively as he lived long ago and far away!
This past Sunday, Janet and I were privileged to serve in the nursery. It really was a joy to watch Polly smile when making funny faces as we wondered what each color in her tower represented in God’s creation — blue sky, green grass. We smiled to see Harrison enthusiastically sing and do the motions to Jesus Loves Me without inhibitions. It was wonderful to see Harmony and Polly ask for one song after another as we made their dollies dance and sing songs of Jesus’ love for them. We were delighted to see Luke, who came in a bit apprehensive and clinging to grandad, find assurance and security little by little through a train and a boat and a snack. And, when Blake arrived, it was neat to see that he knew just where he was, viz. a place of security and care where he could be himself without fear. We read books and we played with toys and we went on adventures walking in the hallway, and all the while, we celebrated God’s love for children and how special these children are to God’s family.
Yes, the joy of serving in the nursery!
And here’s the thing, and it’s a big thing indeed!
We need more of our members to give of themselves to experience this joy! This past Sunday, there were 5 children in one nursery and 8 children in the other. And, while we have one paid worker who serves in each room each week, it is imperative that we have at least two people per room so that all are safe and secure. We also need more adults who are willing to be that first lesson of God’s love for these children and to be the encouragement that their parents need so that they can take a deep breath of God’s presence in worship!
And, folks do not be afraid of serving this way. If you don’t see yourself as prepared for changing diapers, don’t worry! Our paid staff are trained and ready to care for the children so don’t let that hold you back. Do you feel like you can’t get down in the floor? That’s OK. Children will love to sit in your lap as you read them a story. We will show you what you need to know in order to serve with confidence. Missy Smith is ready to talk with you about serving in this First Things First kind of ministry in our church family.
It is not hard to sign-up either. Just go to this sign-up link and choose the date you would like to serve: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0a44afa82fa1fd0-fbcworship1 . A background check is required of everyone, including our ministers, who will be working with children and youth in the life of our church. The background check has to be done before you can serve. If we don’t have a background check on file for you, then, when you sign up to serve, we will send you an email through which you grant permission for the background check and we will order it.
We communicate clearly to children about the right-now-in-the-present-love-of-God by the way we receive them into our church family! YOU are needed to be part of the rotation of servants who do FIRST THINGS FIRST in our church. With a larger number of members taking a regular turn to experience the joy of serving in the nursery, we will be able to accomplish this vital ministry with great success and efficient organization!
Thank you for asking Missy your questions about serving AND for going ahead and signing-up today at: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0a44afa82fa1fd0-fbcworship1
(1) William L. Hendricks, A Theology for Children, Broadman Press, 1980, p. 39.
(2) Hendricks, p. 40.