Be a Church that Welcomes Other People's Kids

{This blog post is part of a series called Twenty-Five Days of Everyday Ministry. To see the rest, head over to my Facebook page. Day 18: Instead of seeing them as “other people’s kids,” choose to see them with the face of your own children.}

{This blog post is part of a series called Twenty-Five Days of Everyday Ministry. To see the rest, head over to my Facebook page.

Day 18: Instead of seeing them as “other people’s kids,” choose to see them with the face of your own children.}

Twelve years ago it was this:

My Mom: “So-and-so called and wants you to babysit Friday night.”

Me: “Crap.”

Two weeks ago it was this:

Husband: “You’re on the schedule to volunteer in the nursery tomorrow morning.”

Me: “Crap.”

Unfortunately, I don’t have that natural Babysitting Bone in my body I’ve heard so much about. I’m the organized, structured, “let’s learn to read and write” teacher type, not as much the “let’s hang out and play toys on the floor” type.

But whether it’s babysitting or volunteering in the nursery, there is that whole “other people’s kids” factor involved too. Deep in our hearts, “other people’s kids” don’t hold the same place as our own, do they?

I would normally be embarrassed to admit that, but I've heard that sentiment about volunteering in the church nursery often: 

I’m not volunteering in there. Those aren’t my kids.”

Sometimes we enter our church's buildings with an “everyone fend for your own families” attitude, more than we actually believe that whole “we are all a covenant family” promise we proclaim with our words.

It requires sending multiple death threats to get enough people to sign up to teach children’s ministries. It is seen as a “lesser” job to volunteer to hold babies and play toys on the floor with toddlers in the nursery, not as an opportunity to give parents a break and time to be spiritually fed. At times we treat church like a “coming of age” activity where children are meant to be seen but not heard, at least until they can recite the Apostle’s Creed.

And that shouldn’t be.

So, ask yourself these questions about your church. Is your church a place where “Other People’s Kids” are welcome?

1. Are children welcomed and engaged by adults who aren't their own parents? Is the next generation being told "you matter," or something more like, "we'll get back to you when you're older?"

2. Are most {physically and emotionally} abled bodies signing up to volunteer in some capacity with children at church? {Yes, even people who are single or who don’t have children or who belong to the gender that doesn’t have lady parts?}

3. Are families with small children able to enter the building with an understanding that everyone will look out for each other, including their kids? That adults will correct their children when they see them do wrong {or report to a parent}, praise them when they do right, and encourage them in the right direction always?

4. Do the moms in your pews get treated like sheep who also need to be fed in the service, or more as the sheep who are always stuck in the back taking care of the little lambs?

While there is a difference in how deeply connected we feel to our own kids compared to others, there shouldn’t be a difference in how we welcome or commit to supporting all the children within our church’s walls.

Choosing to see my son and daughter’s faces on other children also teaches me deep sympathy.

Knowing how much I love my children helps me realize how much “other people’s kids” are loved too, how much their parents wish for their child’s protection and wellbeing.

When I see "other people's kids" with the face of my own children, they become very hard to ignore in their pain, in their trials, and in their overall wellbeing. And that is both within and way outside the church's walls. That spans worldwide to the orphan, the refugee. That reaches outside of our shores to the war torn corners of Aleppo, and back to the fussy baby I hold for an hour during a church service.

So, I’m getting rid of the whole “other people’s kids” phrase.

If I am willing to take a bullet for my own kids, I think that will help me realize the importance of the ordinary act of playing toys on the floor with other people’s kids at church too.

And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. {Matthew 18:5}

 

Grace and Peace,
Kendra