I tapped out of the latest edition of the Children’s Ministry Think Tank. I have lots of excuses... preaching, web site crashes, etc. But none of them are really that good, because the latest topic is a really important one. So, even though I didn't make the posting deadline, I thought I'd go ahead and answer the question here... and provide a link to thoughts from other children's ministers.
Think Tank #3 Questions About Baby Dedication
What is your church’s practice of baby dedication? Does it integrate with a family ministry strategy? Are their membership requirements for the parents? What do you include in the ceremony?At
At Sojourn, our dedication service is a time we set aside to celebrate the children that God has given us. Member families from our church community come to go public with their desire to bring up new children by God’s grace and according to his instructions.
Our service is simply called a Dedication. Some churches think about it as a baby dedication, but it is better called a Parent Dedication. This is not a water baptism, but it is a heavy thing--serious business for the parents involved. The dedication is a covenant--a holy commitment made between the parents, God, and our church community. It is serious business for our church as well. We don’t believe that God made children the responsibility of the nuclear family in isolation. Church and home are co-champions of God’s ways for our kids. Every member of Sojourn is responsible for these kids. We need each other. These parents need our encouragement, accountability, and our prayers. These kids need our love, nurture, and our gospel examples.
The Parent's Commitment
Parents, do you profess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and affirm the promises of God made to you and your children in his Word. If so say “We do.”
Will you promise to God and this church community to live gospel-changed lives before your children? Will you promise to discipline them and show them grace? Will you instruct them by word and example in the truth of God’s Word and in the way of salvation through Jesus Christ? Will you promise to pray for them and teach them to pray? Will you promise to nurture them within the body of believers to the end that they become citizens in Christ’s kingdom? If so, say, “We will with God’s help.” The Church’s Commitment:
Sojourn, will you promise in the presence of God and one another to live gospel-changed lives before these children and to pray that they will in turn be changed by the gospel? Will you love and pray for these children—encouraging them and helping to nurture them in the faith? Will you assist these parents in fulfilling their biblical responsibilities, hold them accountable by confronting sin, pray for them, and spur them on toward love and good deeds? If so, please read the following:
With joy and thanksgiving, As Christ’s church, With God’s help, We promise to love, encourage, and support you As you follow Christ and parent your children.
We have parents write up a paragraph about their child for the ceremony, which we publish in a keepsake booklet. You can check out the complete dedication booklet for our April 2009 service here.
This coming Fall, we hope to offer a two-week "foundations" class on Wednesday nights that introduces our parents to the covenant commitment they are making at the baby dedication, introduces our philosophy of student and family ministry, and teaches some basic parenting principles for parents of newborns. This class will be an experiement for us. We got the idea from Kingsland Baptist Church's (Katy, TX) "legacy milestones" philosophy, and we will be adapting some material from Bethlehem Baptist Church's (Minneapolis, MN) "foundation builders" classes. Maybe I'll report back later with regard to how it goes.