Crying rooms are convenient in the short term, settling a baby/toddler into crèche is better in the long term.
Crying rooms serve the parent with a crying baby, but not the other people who also want to hear the sermon with a babe-in-arms. Other parents will have gone there to feed without the distractions of church or give their child a quiet place to sleep. Both of these are undone when a crying or unsettled baby enters. My experience has been these crying rooms (with the sermon wired through to speakers) end up being a place where parents chat and don’t actually listen to the sermon anyway.
Crèche rooms, set up with toys and activities to entertain a clean and fed baby/toddler, allow them to be noisy and entertained. Carers often will sing songs, read books and play with the children while Mum and/or Dad can be involved in the church meeting. This time will help babies develop socialising and motor skills, exploring more of the world God has made for them.
Can the two be merged? Is it successful having an audio feed into a crèche? Here’s why I think it doesn’t work:
- the kids will now have an adult voice filling the audio space instead of kids music, significantly altering the mood of the room,
- the kids will still be noisy, so a parent will have a lot of trouble listening anyway,
- most parents will have conversations with the carers and/or other parents and not listen to the sermon anyway.
If listening to the sermon is the goal, I’d suggest investing the time to settle your child into crèche with other adult carers and listening to the sermon during the week*. It may take a few weeks (or months for some) but it will not be forever. Another option to find the content of the sermon if you cannot listen to it later is to ask your spouse to summarise the talk and discuss it over a coffee/dessert after the kids are in bed. Trust me, this will NOT be detrimental to your marriage!
If listening to the sermon IS the goal, then this post may be helpful.
Churching with a baby – Is is worth it?
* Modern technology means we barely have to make any effort to find and listen to sermons at a time we can concentrate.
There are wholesale changes to our lives when a child is added to a family. Attending church is no different. What might be some adjustments we need to make?
- Getting out of the house now takes military precision and planning. Start early and give yourself buffer time for the unexpected nappy change, milk vomit down your front, etc. Always having the nappy bag restocked from the last outing helps too.
- Involvement in serving ministries might change. If this is necessary, make sure they change, not just cease. For some it will be a radical change and there might be a period of grieving. This will be a good opportunity to assess your motives for serving in that particular ministry.
- Our reasons for attending church could well be challenged when we don’t get as much out of it as we did before.
- The non-christians in our circles will change. Embrace these new evangelistic opportunities with parent groups, daycare, neighbours, etc.
But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed – We don’t go to be at church, we go to be the church!
Coming to church with a baby can seem a fruitless endeavour – they often need a feed, a nappy change, a sleep, sometimes get noisy – and don’t get me started on the STUFF that needs to be brought along!
I want to encourage families in this situation that it IS worthwhile when you persevere in coming to church, for yourself and others.
What are the benefits?
- It keeps you in the habit of coming to church. You know it is part of God’s plan for His chosen people to gather together, don’t let having a baby become a justifiable excuse. This is especially important when there are other older siblings around – church attendance becomes part of their normal routine, not just when Mum & Dad are up to it.
- Your attendance encourages others (with or without kids) who have also had to muster the will to attend.
- Even if you do not get to hear the sermon*, you will most likely have been able to join in communal worship & prayer, chat with and encourage others and be part of God’s gathered people.
We don’t go to be at church, we go to be the church!
* Sermon recording is not a new phenomenon – I remember my Mum dubbing taped sermons on our twi deck 25 years ago. Technology means we barely have to make any effort these days to find and listen to sermons at a time we can concentrate.