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?