Church not Childcare

I believe the words and titles we use for things convey messages of value. That’s how language works. For example, take “wedding ceremony” versus “wedding celebration.” Both terms tell people that a wedding is happening, but the first phrase sends messages of formality, tradition, and even the sacredness of it. The second phrase sends the message that this wedding is a fun, celebratory, party. Now, in this case, I don’t necessarily think one way is right and one way is wrong. I’m just saying that the words we use send messages of what we value to others.

Now take ministry with children on Sunday mornings at churches. Some people call it “children’s church” while others call it “nursery” or “kid church.” I have even seen it called “childcare.”

This is where I have a strong opinion about naming the programs for children at churches. If we call it “childcare,” we are sending the message to everyone that the Sunday morning church services are really about the adults and that children are secondary. Of course we care for the children on Sunday and there is something very spiritual and God-glorifying about that. But I think there are other terms that can convey a stronger meaning about what’s really important for the body of believers when they gather together for worship.

In churches that separate the ages for age-leveled worship (which is another thing I’m not a huge fan of, but I understand that it is the primary model in Western churches), I think the programs for children (for infants and older) should be named in ways that convey the value of children and the fact that they are full participants in the worshipping body of Christ.

Here are some examples that I think are better terms than “childcare” or “babysitting” for Sunday morning services for children. This is definitely not exhaustive. It is merely a sampling of ideas:

  • Children’s Worship
  • Children’s Church
  • Movers and Shakers
  • From the Mouths of Babes
  • All God’s Children
  • Godly Play (this is actually a thing)
  • God’s Kids
  • Faith Factory

The list could go on and on.

What do you call your services for children on Sunday mornings? What message does it send? What message do you want to send in the way you name programs for children?

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Jesse Joyner travels nationwide performing a comedy juggling act for family and kids events. He is also working towards his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their daughter, Kezzie.

2 thoughts on “Church not Childcare”

  1. Hi Jesse,
    Not sure if you remember me,Sandy Loyd, Children’s Pastor from Clinton, Iowa. You did a week of one of our children’s camps in Fox Lake, Illinois.
    I love following you and your ministry. You are a blessing to the body of Christ in the seeds that you plant in our lives. I love getting your emails, just to see what you are up to. John and I are retired now from the Children’s ministry. We are enjoying our retirment staying here in Cinton Iowa and volunteering in the communty and doing some traveling.
    We have 5 grandkids. God has been so good to us and He continues to fill us up with His Spirit. We are blessed abundantly.
    Many things continue to change in our churches and children’s ministry. Please keep up the good work you are doing…….the investment is great.
    John & Sandy Loyd

    1. Sandy, so good to hear from you! I remember your camp well – it was a very peaceful Foursquare camp. Glad to hear that God has blessed you and John so much with family and rest. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers in what I do.

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