I creep down the dark halls of the church basement, a one-year-old clinging to my side like a baby monkey. All is silent. I pad past closed classroom doors, all dark except for a beam of light slanting through the high windows. I wiggle my eyebrows at my companion on my hip. She shrieks with joy, nestling her head into my shoulder. Three boys bolt around the corner, laughing and yelling, “There’s a monster!” As I walk into the open area of the basement, two more boys scamper under a table, giggling.
This is Sunday morning, an hour before church starts. Upstairs, my husband practices on his bass guitar with the rest of the band, including another mother. I’m watching all of our kids down here so that they can focus on preparing to lead our congregation in worship.
There was a time in my life when I would have felt ashamed for not serving like the other people in my church. I would have viewed my needy children as preventing me from serving or worried that I idolized them or my own personal comfort by not signing up for the latest ministry need.
But I don’t feel that today. I realize that the work I’m doing right here in this basement is ministry. By watching my kids and my friend’s kids each Sunday morning, I’m helping others serve in the way God has gifted them. Moms with littles often feel like they can’t serve, but there are many small ways we can—they just might not be exactly what is typically recognized as ministry.
Serve through Childcare
When you have a household of littles, often it doesn’t make a difference to add one or two more to the mix. Sometimes it even helps. You can serve your church by finding a family that needs childcare so they can serve. Maybe there’s a family who just needs a night off. Or maybe one of the pastors in your church is traveling and his wife is home alone with all her little ones, so you team up together. You might notice a single mom struggling to keep her kids corralled during the service, so you invite her to sit close to you so you can work together. This is a ministry God has particularly equipped moms for.
Serve through Prayer
If we looked at our screen time, we’d likely see that we have at least one free hour (even if it’s broken up into two-minute increments) to pray. Every believer is called and equipped to pray, and motherhood often includes mundane moments that we could use to say a prayer on behalf of someone in our congregation or for one of the local ministries. Diaper changes, drives to appointments or work or to get groceries, folding laundry, searching for beloved stuffies, and prepping meals are all moments we can lift someone up in silent prayer.
Serve in the Nursery
Haven’t you noticed that the church nursery is always in need of volunteers? In the past, I didn’t sign up for any classes or roles like these because I knew I had to be there for my children to breastfeed or warm a bottle of milk or pace the halls with them as they sobbed from tiredness. But once my children were ready to be in nursery without me, I could help out there, too.
A beloved youth leader of mine once told me that she volunteered in the spaces her children were in, whether it was the nursery, Sunday school, youth group, or college ministry, because she believed God called her to be a part of their lives as she did ministry. As a youth, I didn’t quite understand her desires, but now it makes complete sense.
Visit the Elderly and the Homebound
In our local area, pastors take turns doing a Sunday service at the residential care home facility. A young pastor’s wife told me she likes to take her babies there too because it brings the elderly people so much joy to snuggle her smiling little ones.
The retired and empty-nest believers in my church have come up to our family countless times and told us how much joy it brings them to see our children running around the sanctuary and to hear their little voices (even when it’s at inappropriate times). For all the times my children make me blush, they also make the older people smile when they see the next generation hearing about Jesus.
How much more must this be true for those who rarely ever receive visitors and perhaps never leave their living room or bedroom? We tend to feel embarrassed by how loud, messy, and energetic our children can be. But that vibrancy and authentic childlikeness can be a blessing to those whose lives feel quiet and monotonous.
Your Ministry Doesn’t Need to Be Flashy
Fellow mom in the little years, you don’t need to neglect your family to be involved in ministry. What feels inconsequential to you—the moments you laugh at defining as a ministry—can make more difference in the lives of others than you realize. You can help renew the joy of salvation in your church as your little ones tag along while demonstrating to your children what it looks like to be a faithful follower of Christ.
Meet the Author
Lara d’Entremont is a wife and mom to three from Nova Scotia, Canada. Lara is a writer and learner at heart. She’s always trying to find time to scribble down some words or read a book. Her desire in writing is to help women develop solid theology they can put into practice—in the mundane, the rugged terrain, and joyful moments. Find more of her writing at laradentremont.com.