To Pay or Not to Pay, That is the Question

Whether or not to pay nursery workers to work on Sunday mornings is a minor controversy in children’s ministry. Many children’s ministries have volunteers working on Sunday mornings (and many of them struggle with having consistent volunteers). I have worked as both a paid nursery worker and an unpaid volunteer, so I believe I have some perspective from both ends. I’ll briefly review the pros and cons to each approach.

The Church Nursery is Staffed by Volunteers


  • One less expense for the church, many are struggling.
  • Gives believers in a local congregation an opportunity to serve in ministry
  • Parents are more likely to know the workers, especially in a smaller congregation


  • Volunteers may not show up regularly.
  • Volunteers may not take nursery ministry or children’s ministry seriously.
  • Churches may not give consideration to the training of volunteers.

The Church Nursery is Staffed with Paid Workers


  • Parents are more likely to be greeted by the same workers every week.
  • Minimizes turnover and need to “fill in” empty childcare slots.
  • Can be a draw for Christian college students, seminarians and seniors who generally look for additional income opportunities.


  • Many smaller churches may not be able to afford to do this, so this option may favor larger churches.
  • Depending on the traditions of your congregation, this may be viewed as a violation of the Fourth Commandment.

    • Believers should all remember Colossians 2:16-17: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon or Sabbath days—these are only the shadow of the things to come, but the reality is Christ.
    • N.B. Wherever a believer stands on this issue, “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” is never quoted in the New Testament.
  • May be cost-prohibitive for many churches, depending on the size of the nursery area, the size of the church, and the weekly offering.
  • Paying workers does not de facto ensure quality childcare workers.
  • Some churches may purposefully select unbelievers to work in the church nursery to pay to watch their children.

    • The benefit is that unbelievers have become believers through this route—hearing the gospel.
    • The potential concern is that unbelievers may not be willing to use the provided infant or toddler curriculum, if your church has one.

The best course of action depends on the needs and circumstances of your particular church and its congregants. Are you a congregation who can afford to pay and you know jobs are a need in your area? Prayerfully consider paying your childcare workers. Are you a congregation who cannot afford to pay and you have misgivings about doing so? Pray for the Lord to send you volunteers.

Regardless of the decision made, may all workers, whether volunteer or paid, remember that the work they do, they do to bring Glory to God.