Llama Momma broached this topic a little while back. She raised the issue of churches providing childcare for events involving women. But what if your church can't even muster enough childcare for a Sunday morning? Then what do you do?
That's where we're at where I go to church. More particularly, where I run the church nursery and two-year old class. My team roster contains ten names of wonderful, committed people. The registration for those classes is currently at 14, but will easily go to 17 once the newborns get a little older. 10 adults. 14 infants and toddlers. Can you see why this doesn't work? Especially when those adults can only be in there once a month or less (nor would I expect many to be in there more often, it's demanding work and without a second service it's a huge sacrifice), this amounts to a severe shortage. So far we've had to schedule only two weeks a month to hold our nursery and two's class. Ouch!
So what do you do? Our pastor has put out an appeal for the past two weeks. It's summer. Attendance is low. So naturally we've had virtually zero response. Still our kickoff for Fall classes is one week away and we need to know what we're doing.
Now the children's ministry coordinator has put out an email asking the whole church to pitch in and help one time before the end of the calendar year. So this may get us through til then. But when January comes, then what?
I'm praying. I'm making phone calls (which ranks up there as the number one thing I like to do least. I have a hard time even calling friends to chat. Whether it was those years taking complaints in customer service or what, I don't know. But I'd so much rather email or talk face to face than use a phone).
When it comes down to it, our church has more children than adults. We're putting a bandaid on the problem now. But does that mean it will go away? And honestly, having different people in with these little kids is so incredibly less than ideal. Do that to a grade-schooler and they'll be jarred, but they'll roll with it. For little ones? I don't know. How secure will these children be feeling by January? How hard will it be for their parents to get them to come in there?
It's a bad situation. One that I've spent the last year trying to make the best of. I've tried hard not to run a co-op where all parents have to take their turn helping if they have a child in there. It's a model that works perhaps, but doesn't necessarily serve some of the neediest people in our church. Parents of little ones need a break. I've been trying to give that to them. But instead it looks like church is going to become the last place where they'll get it.
What would you do?
Postscript: Most of the people in our church are working hard. Some of them in two and three different places. And therein lies the complication to my problem: there are few people to turn to for more help.
We've scheduled almost through December with people pitching in for one time during the semester, so the crisis has been averted. But the long-term solution has yet to be reached, and I'm honestly just not sure what that is.