Every week, an enthusiastic team of staff and volunteers pulls out their crayons, baby wipes, sticker charts, and craft sheets, rolls up their sleeves, and cares for the children in our church. Say what you will about a society that knows nothing about commitment and hard work, this crew is committed, and they work hard.
What might be construed as superficial activities—soothing a crying baby, making peace between two three-year-olds fighting over the same toy, keeping a classroom stocked with crayons and paste—are anything but superficial. These activities, led by this amazing team, are deepening the life of our church.
Superficial is a mother hearing every tenth word of a sermon because she’s trying to keep her two-year-old from disrupting everyone else. Superficial is a Bible study that can’t study the Bible because everyone is smiling at the almost-always-cute kids running around (and frequently ruling on who had which toy first).
But the lives of these parents are deepened because they are hearing, thinking about, and responding to the word of God on a Sunday morning. The lives of every person in that small group have an added weight because they are able to discuss Scripture and share their struggles in applying it.
Those loving souls crawling on their hands and knees with my daughters, offering their aching backs as a sacrifice to the Lord as they heave those impossibly heavy toddlers onto the changing table again and again, these wonderful servants are giving themselves to ensure that God’s people hear God’s word—not superficially, but with all the attention it requires—and can devote themselves to living accordingly.
I’m not looking to these volunteers to parent my children. A Bible lesson or two per week is not the equivalent for my kids of being trained in the ways of the Lord any more than hearing a sermon or two is the equivalent for me of a healthy spiritual life. I am so thankful for the ways these saints deepen the spiritual lives of my girls by teaching them about Jesus in these settings. But that won’t be the only time of the week my children hear about the Lord. It won’t be the only place they learn about obedience, or love for their neighbors, or forgiveness and compassion.
But I am so thankful for the offer that these dear Christians give me week after week of entrusting my daughters to their loving care for an hour or two so that I can think more deeply, pray without distraction, and then return to pick up my girls as a deeper human being, more in tune with God, his will, and my mission.
So to those child care workers who deepen our church, thank you! When I say this week after week as I drop off and pick up my daughters, I mean it in the fullest possible sense. Our church would be anemic without your consistent service. Without your support, I would still have to live and parent, but I would be weaker and less prepared to do so.
And to all of those child care workers around the world, playing with playdough so your brothers and sisters can dig into the theology that will strengthen their souls and set them on fire for a life lived for God’s sake, keep up your profoundly important work. Your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).