You walk to the door carrying your most treasured possession–your child. You’ve decided to give the nursery a try. You want your little one to receive ministry at his level and you can’t wait to soak in the church worship service—it’s been a long week! However, when you open the door (that you have a hard time finding) you aren’t greeted by anyone. The staff appears busy, too busy for one more child. You slowly back out the door and think about going home…
Think this scenario can’t happen? Think again! It happens all the time—it’s even happened at my church (and yours) but you can change that. The church nursery should make everyone feel welcome from the moment they arrive at the door until the time they pick up their child. It all begins with the greeting!
As a children’s ministry “lifer” (I’ve been at this for 18 years!), that’s the first thing I train new volunteers and staff in, creating a welcoming environment for both the children and adults. The nursery ministry requires some commitment. Often you will be the first to arrive and the last to leave.
Our team has implemented these tips and we’ve seen a great improvement in the warmth and welcome section on our feedback cards. We’re getting four stars in this area! Here’s what I do:
I teach/encourage/prompt volunteers to have a happy demeanor. Sometimes you have to think about smiling. Everyone guest to the nursery should be greeted with a welcoming smile, at least from the adults. If you happen to be in the middle of changing a diaper or finding a sippy cup, say, “I’ll be right there!” and smile!
Greet the child with a smile and a “Hi! My name is ____.” Don’t reach for the child until after you’ve talked to the parent and established a bond with the child.
Tell the parent and child what song you’ll be singing, video you’ll be watching or game you will be playing. Give the child an idea of how fun it will be.
Provide the guest with an information packet or brochure to take with them. Assign them a pager (if you use them) and answer any questions he or she may have. Have the parent fill out a small registration form. Our little form just asks about allergies, contact info and etc. Parents will fill out the longer form outside the nursery and return it to you when they pick up their child. (They only have to do this once.) You don’t want them to linger too long. Especially if the child has separation anxiety.
Tell your parents where they should go next. For example, “We have donuts in the Fellowship Hall and the adult Sunday School class starts in 10 minutes in the sanctuary.” Help visitors know where to go and what to do.
Assure your new families that their child is your top priority. If the child cries (many do the first few minutes, the first few times) assure Mom or Dad that you will stay close and that you have plenty of fun distractions.
Keep information cards and follow up with a phone call or card. Thank the parent for bringing their child to the nursery and invite them to come back.
It’s really that simple! You can do it! Read more from Mimi by visiting her blog at Tools for Kids Church.
Don’t miss our other articles about church nursery ministry, including this one about 7 reasons you should serve in the church nursery.