How To Make A Church Nursery Schedule

Creating the nursery schedule at church is one of my least favorite administrative tasks as a children’s minister. The next schedule is due out this week, so I thought I would share how I do it.

How To Make A Church Nursery Schedule

6 Steps To Making A Church Nursery Schedule

1. Revise The Old Dates

I’ve moved to a 6-week rotation for our church nursery. I simply open the Word document on my computer and edit the old dates by looking at my calendar. This saves me time because I don’t have to shuffle workers for 5th Sundays. It also makes the commitment level seem more manageable for the volunteers.

2. Review For Special Dates

While I have the calendar out, I look for special dates that will affect the nursery. These might be weeks when we cancel Sunday night church, or when we don’t offer a nursery because of a church-wide dinner.

3. Remove Any Outgoing Volunteers

I keep a master copy of the church nursery schedule in my office. I use it to make notes when workers need to come off, change their service dates, or I have new volunteers to add. It helps to keep these notes in a central location by actually writing them on my copy of the schedule. I just delete these names at first and leave the spots as blanks until the next step.

4. Fill The Empty Spots

Then I find workers to serve in the blanks on my schedule. I should probably write more in depth about finding volunteers, but for now here are a few time saving tips. How do I get volunteers for church nursery?

  • Identify and recruit new nursery workers before you need them. While drafting the new schedule, I often think of potential volunteers to add to my recruiting list. Why not contact these people in before you’re in a pinch?
  • Use a church nursery job description or volunteer handbook to set clear expectations. Having clear communication up front helps you avoid nursery burnout.
  • When I can’t fill all the nursery spots I will just write “Volunteer Needed” and send it out anyway. This lets usually results in a wave of new workers. Seeing the specific need in the bulletin is much more powerful than sending out a generic appeal for help. In cases where I still don’t have workers, I call the on my substitute list.

5. Pray For The Volunteer List

Why not take 10 minutes to pray for the nursery roster while it’s top of mind? Pray that God will bless them for their service. Ask for protection for their health so they don’t call in sick. Mention each volunteer by name. Then expand your prayer to include the hours of ministry represented on the list. Ask God to call out new volunteers with a heart to love and serve the little ones. Don’t waste this opportunity for specific prayer.

6. Encourage The Workers

Send encouragement with the nursery schedule mailing. I always like to send notes of encouragement to the volunteers included in their nursery schedule. This can be a great way to remind them how important their ministry is to the church.

  • Send a handwritten thank you note. Just something simple to say, “I’m glad God has your in our church and I’ve prayed for you this morning. May God bless you.”
  • Send an encouraging article. You can find some that I’ve written at the bottom of this page under “related articles.”

Some More Time Saving Tips

  • Keep a list of volunteers on call. These can regular volunteers who are willing to take an occasional second shift, or others who can only work on occasion.
  • Send the schedule in several different formats. We put it in the church worship folder (Sunday bulletin) 2 weeks at a time, post it around the church, and I mail ever people their own copy of the 6-week schedule. Some churches like to do reminder calls, but this is overkill in most small churches. If your congregation is tech savvy, you can email the church nursery schedule as well.
  • Use a one-page format (or smaller) and alter paper colors each month. Most of our schedules end up on people’s refrigerators, so I try to keep it as fridge-friendly as possible.
  • Put your contact number on the schedule. This gives people easy access when they need to make a change to their nursery commitment.

What Do You Think?

If you’ve found this article helpful, please leave a comment below to let me know. You can also ask a follow up question or share your own thoughts. Some of the best tips on this website come from readers, so don’t be shy. Click here to leave a comment.


Comments

  1. Sharon says

    These resources are exactly what I was looking for they came at the perfect time. I am going to be recruiting nursery volunteers in the fall. Thanks for all your help.

  2. tina says

    Getting and keeping people to be servants in the nursery and children’s areas, and from what I have experienced is in ALOT of churches. I have tried bunches of these helpful ideas, but the best one is to pray for the workers and pray that more people who have a desire to love children will step forward.

  3. Rosemary says

    This list is quite helpful. I especially love the suggestion to write notes of encouragement/thank you notes to the faithful workers. Although I say thank you often, I believe everyone likes to get a card every now and again. I will certainly utilize this tip!

  4. Sarah B says

    Thank you for this! This was so insightful and helpful. We have policy at our church that you must find your own sub (from the scheduled volunteers per semester). In the weekly email reminders (sent out 2 weeks in advance), the email states, “If you will be unable to serve on your assigned day, please email me the name of your sub.” That also puts the responsibility ont the individuals/ families. Thanks again!

    • Mitory Machuo says

      Thank you for this! Very help full to me. I was just started to rise up for nursery in church. I’ m getting there, God is helping me to find a way, here I am with all these guidance from you. Thank God for his mercy n glory.

  5. Tammy says

    hi, thanks for posting this. I was wondering how you deal with people who dont show up for there post or “forget” that is an issue at our church and so our nursery/childrens ministry director is constantly haveing to babysit each week to make sure that people are where they need to be. Is this something that is just normal or is there a solutions??

  6. Jessica says

    Wow, this is so helpful! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am praying that God honor you and bless you for making this information available for free, again thank you!

  7. Christina says

    i’m new to making schedules and found this SO VERY helpful, especially dealing with 5th sundays. I’m going to try the 6 week rotation! if i can find a few more volunteers. thank you for the abundance of information.

  8. says

    Great article!! This is probably the biggest challenge to any Nursery Director, and I think it has some very valuable tips. One thing I would add would be how we deal with 5th Sundays (a blessing in offerings, a frustration for staffing.) We tried “Take the 5th” theme on Sunday, encouraging people to just work 4 times a year. Then for the spots not filled, I told my team they would work 13 times a year, not 12. There are 4 months a year with 5 Sundays. The first month, our 1st Sunday crew works the fifth Sunday as well, the 2nd month, the 2nd Sunday crew works it… etc. Then, to help them look forward to it, TREAT THEM. On the fifth Sunday, I know most of the people are going above what they are compfortable with, so I bring muffins and fruit and such… instead of being a burden, they look forward to it!

    • Sib says

      Great idea for 5th Sundays! My team likes to have a consistent Sunday scheduled each month and those 5th Sundays have been a real challenge to staff. I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for all you do. Your ministry is such a blessing!!!

  9. Leonie Hall says

    I am in the process of starting a Nursery. Our Church is small and it is a challenging process. Thanks for the information you provided. I find it very helpful and I will certainly be using some of the ideas you suggested. Be Blessed.
    Leonie.

  10. keritha providence says

    this information has been very helpful , seeing we about to restart our nursery which was out for some time workers seems to get tried of lack of commitment thank you for this blessing

  11. elizabeth goldie says

    that was a beautiful write up. this will actually help me concerning the nursery church in my parish. i should be able to appreciate the workers/volunteers to get a better service. kudos
    God bless you

  12. Darlene Williams says

    I really appreciate being able to go to a website and taking the ideas back to my church. I am an elementary school teacher and service provider at my church to children ages 2-6. Wow, this is a lot! I used your example of the Service Description to create one for my group of volunteers. It really helps to be able to use tips and ideas from other Christians. Thank you for sharing and may God bless you and yours!

  13. Melanie says

    Our church is using Nursery Nanny (http://nurserynanny.com) for our nursery scheduling.

    The auto-schedule feature is nice – takes a lot of the guess-work out of creating a good schedule from month to month. Volunteers get emailed about their assignments and can accept or decline from the email. If someone declines the website will send out another email looking for someone to fill in.

    Anyway, thought maybe someone else might find this useful – it’s saved me a lot of time!

  14. Marlena Brown says

    Hi, thanks a lot for posting this. I am a young mother of two girls and our church has no existing nursery. I want to be a nursery director, and my husband is the youth minister. However there is so many unknowns and I felt pretty discouraged until I stumbled upon this site. Its so true that the way to reach young families is through having a church nursery. I would have loved it when my girls were babies. I think I will follow your instructions closely and try again to get a nursery schedule going.

  15. Kimberly says

    I’m the nursery director at my church and have difficulties keeping committed nursery workers. I often wonder if it has anything to do with our bus ministry. There’s a good number of children that come in on the buses and can be a handful at times. I like the idea of giving the workers encouragement and lifting them up in prayer. I also like the idea of placing “help needed” in a blank spot…might try to recruit some new committed nursery workers. I currently schedule 2 workers and an alternate. The alternate is responsible to work if a scheduled worker is out or if there’s a lot of children in the nursery. I try to do the ratio thing unless I’m aware that some children take more supervision as other…meaning as far as behavior/discipline is concerned. So, you schedule couples too? I’ve often wondered how that would go over with others. I actually like the idea though. Do you have any tips for me?

  16. Dotun Kukoyi says

    Thank you for your good work. I literally stumbled upon your website and having spent just a few minutes on it, recognized it to be a great tool for use in our church here in Hayward, California.

    Keep up this ministry work. The LORD will not neglect continually to bless and reward you.

  17. Monique Nuechterlein says

    Thank you so much for your help. Our Pastor put me in charge of starting the church nursery. It will be a good learning experience for me and I am excited. I am so thankful for your website. THanks again and God Bless.

    • Kimberly says

      I throughly enjoy being the church nursery director. I’ve had some challenges to come about, but the good Lord has guided me through them and bless me beyond all measures. I hope that things are going well for you and that you feel honored to do such an important service to those precious little children and to your church. I’ll be remmbering you in my prayers. God bless you.

  18. Sharol DeGroot says

    This was awesome. I’ve been our church Ckids classroom volunteer coordinator for almost 2 years and this was very helpful. I have an old word document that I’ve used for 2 years but find yours very easy on the eyes and user friendly. I also needed the reminder to pray for my volunteers daily …those who are currently on my roster and those who we haven’t yet found!!! :) Thank you.

  19. RACHEL AYALA says

    I thanked God for you and your website as a newly appointed nursery head I have found your website extremely helpful. I especially liked the bible verses you have quoted. They have really encouraged me and I know thanks to God and your website our nursery volunteers will also be encouraged and excited about serving God in our nursery.

  20. pastor micros wambuzi says

    Iam from uganda Africa your website is helpful to us with many children in church and we lack material to them but thank you for this website.

  21. Rebecca says

    Thank you so much for your site!! It is really going to help me and our church to get our nursery in order!! You really gave me ideas to encourage people to work in the nursery! As of right now we have no nusersy (new church and not many people) so I am working on getting one together so we are ready to minister to new people! Thank you ! I thank Jesus that I found your site to encourage me As well!! :)

  22. Cindi says

    thank you for all the great ideas , I have used them for all occasions including the nursery. God bless you and keep up the good work.
    Cindi Bible Baptist Church Howell, Mi.

  23. Cindy says

    We ask all of our volunteers working with children to submit to a background check so I’m not sure how some of the ideas put forward would work for us. If a Sunday School class does volunteer, who screens the workers? One church I went to, when we started screenings we found out we had 2 registered sex offenders working with our children. One in the preschool age (where they take kids to the bathroom) and the other in the middle school (where they travel). Just because they attend your church doesn’t mean they have Christ centered lives. Also, if you only see these babies once in a blue moon, how do they bond with you and how do they feel comfortable? I think especially our littlest ones who can’t verbalize need more than being a service project once or twice a year.

    • Kimberly says

      Wow, that’s a shame that people aren’t trustworthy and have the nerve to volunteer with that type of background. You know those people could have been on that list from a while back and now had a life changing experience…#1: accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and #2: want to do a service that’s rewarding. We just never know someone’s heart and their intentions, so we can just pray for them.

    • Romy says

      Cindy~

      We do background checks! It is not worth the risk! I also agree that serving with little children needs to be done on a more regular basis. Those little ones need to see a familiar face and it makes the parents feel better about leaving their little one.
      Serving shouldn’t be convient and easy. I believe the workers would be suprised how much they looked forward to seeing those little ones!

  24. Travis says

    I am about o start a new process o f getting our Sunday school classes to adopt a nursery class, and let their classes rotate for that particular nursery class they have adopted, this should eliminate our monthly rotation and make it where people will only have to serve two to three times a year, pray that it is successful! Let me know if any of you have done this before and how it turned out!

  25. says

    Hi Tony
    Thank you so much for the good and exellent information that you are giving in terms of children ministry. This is a ministry of which many churches ignore especially in africa. I would be very pleased if my sunday school class could twin with the one you teach so that they can share information and be able to grow knowing christ indeed.

  26. andrea Malve says

    Hi Tony, God bless you and your ministry. I´m from Argentina (South America) and let me tell you it´s very hard to find people to care for children in our church…I believe it happens every where…but I really apreciate your thoughts and sugestions..sometimes we run out of ideas and it´s hard to create…God bless you!!!!

  27. Heidi says

    Tony, this is a new website for me. Thanks for all the words of wisdom; they help me develop a fledgeling ministry from the ground up.

    Heidi, children’s pastor in Washington State

  28. Michelle says

    Thank you for the encouraging tips. I especially found the article on making a nursery schedule helpful.

    May God bless you and your ministry.

  29. Coreena Munsinger says

    I just want to thank you so much for this website, I haven’t even read but more than the first page of the nursery and am encouraged. I took over our nursery last november and I’m just feeling very discouraged over our staffing issues. There are so many things I will incorporate from the nursery webpage. thank you, thank you!! and God Bless you!!!

  30. says

    Thank you for sharing about your volunteer recruitment. I am an elder at Bethany Presbyterian Church (www.bethany4jesus.com) in Loves Park, IL and also in charge of the nursery (not sure how I ended up with it). Anyway, I have established a schedule whereby I promised everyone that they would only have to serve once every six months. I am attaching or will email you a copy of how I did the schedule. It seems to be working out rather well. When I started reminding everyone of the second half of 2008 a few weeks ago, some people said they needed to switch, so I was able to accommodate their desires so far. I do have a list of emergency subs that can step in at a moment’s notice…and I also sub as needed.

  31. Diane says

    Make it easier on yourself, Tony, and encourage volunteers to recruit their own subs when they can’t make it for their shift. (You could still require that subs come from the nursery worker list if training/screening is an issue at your church.)

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