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Tag: Church Daycares

Why Evangelical Churches Operate Daycares

preachers and money 2

Have you ever wondered why many Evangelical churches have daycares? After I resigned in 1979 from Montpelier Baptist Church, we moved to Newark, Ohio to be near Polly’s parents. I took a job as a general manager for Arthur Treacher’s and Polly started working as a teacher at Temple Tots — a daycare “ministry” operated by the Newark Baptist Temple.

Temple Tots was an unlicensed facility. The state of Ohio exempted church daycares from regulation. What could go wrong, right? Eventually, after countless scandals, the state decided to require church daycares to follow the same laws as secular facilities. This led to a flurry of lawsuits, none of which succeeded. Eventually, the state demanded church daycares get a license, and those that didn’t were forced to close. Temple Tots was the last unlicensed church daycare in Ohio when it closed.

Church daycares typically provide services for single mothers and their children. One of the early goals was to reach needy families for Jesus. The daycares were just a means to an end. Daycares as an evangelistic tool were largely failures. Few mothers or children got saved or became church members. Over time, daycares became cash cows for churches — a means to pay mortgages, salaries, and utility bills. Today, church daycares often provide significant income to their churches. All pretense of “ministry” is gone. Church daycares often charge as much as secular facilities do. Employees are often told that they can’t be paid as much as secular daycare workers because they work in a “ministry.” Yet, parents are paying the full rate and churches are getting fat off the proceeds.

A mother will three children might be making $40,000 a year at a factory, but after daycare and travel costs are accounted for, she is making $20,000 — not a living wage. Imagine if churches put mothers and their children first or fathers and their children, for that matter. Imagine if their rates reflected their desire to help the least of these. Imagine charging the Mom of three $100-$150 a week instead of $450. Boy, that sure would make a difference, would it not?

Many local daycares are owned by churches. Sadly, families don’t have any other choice but to use these daycares. Daycare is an essential part of making life better for needy children and their parents. Surely, there’s a better way than pawning our future off to people who have ulterior motives: to “save” children, indoctrinate children, and make buckets of money while doing it.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser