When organizing a gospel centered children’s ministry, one area that often gets overlooked is the nursery. In the nursery its all too easy to get caught up in the needs of the morning – who’s crying, who needs to be fed, who’s diaper needs changing, etc. These are all crucial tasks, but sometimes in the midst of all the need meeting, we forget the biggest need – we forget the hearts of the babies and our own hearts and get caught up in the tasks of the moment.
Here are a few ways to remember the gospel while going about the tasks of the morning. Let these everyday moments stand as memorials of truth and let them encourage you to stay focussed on the truth of the gospel. And, as you remember the gospel in the mundane moments of nursery ministry, use these gospel reminders to pray for the children under your care.
Throughout the Bible we have examples of God telling His people to establish memorials. These were to stand as reminders of the goodness of God and His deliverance of His people.
In Deuteronomy 6:6-9 we read –
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
In this passage, God is giving His people instructions on how to remember the law by physically writing it on the doors of their houses, wearing it on their bodies and repeating it everywhere they went. If we’re thinking about and talking about and seeing something, it’s pretty hard for us to forget it.
And in Joshua 4:4-7 in the account of the people of Israel crossing he Jordan river in to the promised land, we read,
“Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
God commanded the people to build a structure of 12 stones for the sole purpose of remembering what God did that day and telling he next generation of God’s deliverance. God even tells them that their children will ask about the stones and then they can tell them how the waters of the river parted and God led them through on dry land.
God knows that we are a forgetful people. Way back in the garden, Adam & Eve forgot, or chose to ignore, God’s law. If we don’t make a point of remembering something, we will forget it.
(1) Blanket –
As you wrap a little one up for sleep, remember 2 important truths. First, no matter how tired you (or the baby) are, you can trust that God never sleeps. Isaiah 40:28 tells us that, “He does not faint or grow weary.” And, Psalm 121:4 tells us, “Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” What a great reminder as your weariness sets in.
Secondly, this blanket can serve as a reminder that God is sovereign over our sleeping and waking and He gives rest – both physical, in the form of sleep, and eternal, as those of us in Christ know we can rest in Him for our eternal salvation. Psalm 139:2 reminds us, “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.” God knows that this little one needs to sleep and He is sovereign over this moment.
- Nursery Prayer: “Dear God, help Samuel to grow up and rely on you for his rest, physically and spiritually. Help him to learn that You are always there and run to You in times of need.”
(2) Diapers –
A lot of time in the nursery will be spent with one of these in your hands. Even in this most mundane moment of caring for babies, you can remember the character of God and tremendous truths about your salvation. As you change a precious baby’s diaper, instead of focussing on the smell or how it’s the 5th stinky diaper of the day, take a moment to focus on the transformation that’s taking place. The baby on the changing table in front of you is wallowing in his own filth and through no effort of his own, he is being made clean. Does this remind you of anything else? When was the last time that you took time to meditate on your own salvation. If you are in Christ, you were once wallowing in your own filth – in the stench of your sin. Psalm 51:2 reminds us of this truth when it says, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” The truth a diaper change can remind you of, is that once you were dirty and helpless and unable to do anything about your filth, heading toward destruction. But, God in His great mercy acted through Christ and changed you, made you into a new creation and made you clean and spotless in His sight.
- Nursery Prayer – “Dear God, thank you for Your work of salvation in my life. I pray that you would help Hannah to understand from a young age that she is a sinner in need of salvation. As she grows and becomes more aware of her actions help her to not to fall into the trap of thinking she can be good enough on her own, but to run to cross.”
(3) Baby Clothes –
Following on from being made clean in Christ, we can use the clothes that the baby is wearing as a reminder of how we are clothed in Christ and His righteousness.
Romans 13:14 says,
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” And Isaiah 61:10 tells us, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Our clothing shows the world who we are. Each time you dress a little one, think about how you have been clothed. Just like God shed blood to make garments of skin to cover Adam & Eve in the garden, Christ’s blood was shed to cover our sin and clothe us with His righteousness. If you are in Christ, when they world sees you, they should see Christ and we can rejoice in the truth that when God the Father looks on us, He sees the righteousness of His Son and not our sin.
- Nursery Prayer – “Dear God, help Isabelle to understand that unless you clothe her in righteousness she’ll never be able to stand in Your presence. Help her parents and other adults in her life to continually point her to You.”
(4) Bottle & Bib –
Food is a regular part of all of our lives. Both your baby and the babies under your care need to eat regularly. No matter how much you eat at one meal, within a few hours your body will be telling you to eat again. Our regular need for food is a built in reminder of our dependence on God as the Great Provider.
Throughout the Bible we see example after example of God meeting the physical needs of His people… Water from a rock, bread from heaven, a boy’s lunch feeding 5000+. God is a God who meets the needs of His people. He perfectly meets our needs and sometimes even meets the needs we don’t know we have. The next time you’re feeding a little one, think about her dependence on you and then think about your dependence of God.
Not only does God meet our physical needs, most importantly He has met our greatest need of forgiveness and salvation through Christ. Romans 5:6 tells us, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” God didn’t wait for us to ask to be saved or to be ready to be saved, He acted on our behalf in a way we could never imagine or hope for. He paid the price for our sin. And now we live in dependence on Him knowing there is nothing more we can do to gain our salvation. He has done it all.
- Nursery Prayer – “Dear God, I pray that Ethan would trust in You and alone to meet all of his needs. Thank You for providing him with a family who love you and want to see him grow to love You too. Help him to understand, even from a young age that he is completely dependent on You for all things.
(5) Toys –
One final reminder is the simple toys you have on the nursery floor. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing more previous than the laughter of a child. Laughter and joy are great gifts from God.
In those moments where you are tired and feeling helpless or weak, when the sermon is going long and all of the babies are tired and cranky, remember the laughter of a child and use that joy to remind you of the joy we have in Christ alone. Psalm 16:11, says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” In God’s presence there is fullness of joy. He knows and is sovereign over all you’re going through right now and His joy is complete. Let me encourage you not to be swayed by the things of the world, but to rejoice in Christ each and every day. In Christ alone, our hope and our joy is found.
- Nursery Prayer – “Dear God, thank You for the knowledge that You are our only hope and joy. Help Daniel to grow to trust You in all things. I pray that You would teach him to be thankful and to put his hope in You alone.”