Should you teach the Bible in crèche?

We should take every opportunity to let the little children come to Jesus

We should take every opportunity to let the little children come to Jesus

The crèche program is one of the most unusual parts of a children’s ministry. Often, it’s in crèche that you have the highest number of resources (by which I mean lots of toys), the highest number of parent volunteers, sometimes even the highest number of kids. And the least amount of Bible teaching.

There are two things that impact the way we do crèche – our view of crèche as a ministry, and our view of children and faith.

What kind of ministry is crèche?

The way you think about crèche as a ministry will determine what you do in crèche. Some see crèche as a ministry to parents. It’s an opportunity for parents of very young children to be able to sit in church and listen to a sermon, uninterrupted. If this is the sole purpose of crèche, then all we need to do is put out lots of toys, and keep kids safe, happy and occupied until their parents pick them up at the end of church. It will be, in effect, a childminding service.  

But what happens if we also see crèche as a ministry to children? Suddenly we need to ask what it means to minister to such young children, and how to do that effectively.

To answer that question we need to think about children and faith.

Children and faith

The Bible has so much to say about teaching children. Probably what we all think of first is what Jesus has to say in Matthew 19:13-15:

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

These words are amazing! It’s not just that Jesus loves children, though he obviously does, but that the kingdom of heaven is a place for children. There’s no age limit to faith in Jesus. We should take every opportunity to let the little children come to Jesus, by teaching even the youngest about him.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Moses gives these instructions to the Israelites;

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Our children’s ministry in church plays an important role in partnering with parents in the task of teaching their children about Jesus. Including teaching time in crèche:

  • Models to parents that they can start teaching their children at an early age

  • Prepares children for future years by teaching them that when we come to church we learn about Jesus

  • Gives them foundational knowledge that will be built on as they get older

What should it look like?

The answer to this question will likely vary depending on the age of the children but it doesn’t need to be complex. Simply reading a story from a children’s picture Bible and saying a short prayer could be enough. I found it most effective to do this while kids are gathered together for morning tea. They sit on a mat together, get a biscuit to eat (if they’re old enough) and while they are eating I would read a Bible story, and say a short prayer. Sometimes a child would stand up and walk away in the middle—that’s okay. Sometimes it will feel like you’re reading to yourself —that’s okay too. Don’t expect more than they can give, but also don’t underestimate how much they can understand.

If you’ve got toddlers in the room you could also include a children’s song with actions (Jesus Loves Me or My God is So Big are great songs to start with), or you could simply play a CD of songs in the background while they play.

Children at this age are taking in everything that happens around them, and learning so much more than we think. We want Jesus to be one of the things they are learning about and crèche provides an opportunity for them to ‘come to Jesus’?

What can you do differently in your crèche program to make the most of this opportunity? 

Kate Haggar

Kate has been involved in youth and children’s ministry for over 10 years, most recently as the Children’s Minister at St Augustine's Anglican Church, Neutral Bay. During this time she also coordinated and taught SRE in three local public schools. One of Kate’s greatest joys is sharing the love of Jesus with as many kids as she can and she is excited about partnering with kids’ teachers and leaders in this important ministry.