Thursday Book Club: Preparing Young People For Baptism

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

Preparing Young Children for Baptism: Mentor's Guide and Pastor's Supplement by David Michael (Children Desiring God, 2011). Baptism is a significant act of obedience, and an important milestone in the life of a young believer. These  booklets outline a process, objectives, and sessions for leading a young person through the meaningful process of baptism preparation. Used together, the Pastors's Supplement and Mentor's Guide (designed particularly for fathers) outline a thorough church-sponsored youth baptism process.  The Mentor's Guide provides outlines for six "faith talks" for use by mentors during the preparation time, and it includes two appendices, which provide theological justification for the suggested process. The Pastor's Supplement contains instructions for church's wishing to implement a youth baptism process (see below) along with a CD with forms (Microsoft Word 2007) that you can customize for your church.

Here is a brief overview of the process these materials advocate:

1. Interest in and Invitation to Consider Baptism. Parents of prospective baptism candidates usually enter the process at their own request or in response to a letter of invitation from the church. Candidates include young people between the ages of 11 and 18 who have not been baptized, and younger children whose parents have asked to be contacted.  The Pastor's Supplement and CD contain a sample letter of invitation along with a sample response card to include with the letter. Candidates under the age of 18 must gain the consent of their parents before beginning the preparation process.

2. Mentor Orientation Sessions. Parents who indicate a desire to begin the process are invited to a Mentor Orientation Session.  Candidates do not attend this meeting.  The session involves meeting the mentors, developing camaraderie among the mentors, motivating the mentors to responsibly guide and support their candidate through the preparation process, and corporately seeking God's help through prayer.

3. Mentor Sessions with Candidate. Mentors are encouraged to have six separate one-on-one sessions with the youth.  The Mentor Guide gives outlines for structuring these sessions.  The sessions overview the following:

  • Preparing the Candidate for the Process
  • Understanding the Gospel
  • Assurance of Salvation
  • Affirmation of Faith
  • The Meaning of Baptism
  • Preparing a Testimony

4. Mentor and Candidate Group Sessions. Mentors and candidates come together with one or two church leaders.  The candidates share their testimonies with the group and review the meaning of baptism.  They are also introduced to the church's history and the distinctive beliefs about church membership for the local church.  They review the church's covenant and affirmation of faith.  At the end of this meeting, candidates and mentors complete and turn in the response forms.  The Pastor's Supplement contains model notes for these sessions.

5. Baptism Interview. After both the candidate and mentor have indicated the candidates readiness to move ahead with baptism, and in some cases church membership, the candidate will be interviewed.  The interview team will include an elder, an adult leader who has regular contact with the candidate (e.g. Sunday school teacher, small group leader) and an older youth who has been baptized.  During this interview the candidate gives his testimony and responds to informal questions concerning faith and church membership.

6. Baptism Service. If the Baptism/Membership team recommends the candidate for baptism, the candidate will be scheduled for baptism.  Our service usually includes worship, candidate testimonies, a pastoral message to the candiates, the baptism, and time for family and friends to gather around the young person, lay hands on him, and pray for him.  In our setting, the parents are able to help the young person out of the water and wrap him in a white robe as people gather around him for prayer.

David Michael is Pastor for Parenting and Family Discipleship at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN.  In this booklet, I believe that he has provided the most helpful resource for youth baptism preparation available.  The approach taken by Children Desiring God is similar to Sojourn's position (Download the latest update of our position, process, and student baptism class notes here), and the Mentor Guide contains an article that I've written along with fellow Sojourn member, Scott Holman (Download it here).  David's work in this book goes far beyond the resources we've developed at Sojourn, and I'm excited about using his resources and the CDG Mentor Guide as part of our Student Baptism Process in the future.

Note: Neither Jared Kennedy nor Sojourn Community Church receive any compensation for sales of this resource.


When Should We Baptize Kids?

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

Among those who practice believer's baptism (credo-baptism), there are  two basic positions regarding the questions of childhood participation in the church ordinances, baptism and communion, and childhood church membership.  The two views are:

  1. Withholding baptism and communion from children until they reach a level of maturity that is independent of their parents in matters relating to God and the church.
  2. Immediate participation in baptism and communion for believing children, who are recognized as church members with limited responsibilities.

Over the past few weeks, both Trevin Wax (Kingdom People) and John Starke (The Gospel Coalition) have weighed in on this discussion.  Both suggested four principles.

Trevin takes the "withholding" position:

  • We should actively share the gospel with our children, and we should encourage them when they trust Christ.
  • Those who are baptized must be able to make a credible profession of faith.
  • There is wisdom in delaying baptism for young children.
  • Delaying baptism does not mean we should consider childhood baptisms invalid.

John takes the "immediate participation" position.  He argues as follows:

  • The regular pattern in Scripture doesn’t give any indication of a probationary period.
  • A probationary period seems to imply that there is something more than faith we need to do in order to be a Christian.
  • Affirming belief in the gospel is never false assurance.
  • The New Testament pattern is reactive rather than proactive concerning conversion.

At Sojourn, we practice a version of the "withholding" position.  Similar to Trevin, we advocate waiting until age 12 though we definitely affirm conversions at earlier ages.  You can download the latest update of our position paper, policy, and process here and at the Bethlehem Baptist (Minneapolis) site.  The paper outlines what we see as the strengths and weaknesses of both positions.  I definitely think that the "immediate participation" position can be practice with gospel thoughtfulness.   Church leaders and parents will benefit by reading the full articles by Trevin and John, our full position paper, and these resources as well:

HT: Tony Kummer, Justin Taylor


Last Sunday: New Life

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

This week in SojournKids, we learned from 1 Peter 1:1-12:

  • Salvation is the most valuable gift.
  • God gives new life.
  • Godʼs gifts last even when they are tested.

If you didn’t get a chance to grab the SojournKids “at home” sheet, you can download it here.

Do you have something that is really valuable?  Money.  Silly bands.  How much is it really worth?  You can find out how much something is really worth by thinking about how long it will last.  God has given us the most valuable thing.  He has given us NEW life.   Godʼs people were dead in their sins, but God has made them alive again.  They are born again because the Holy Spirit lives inside of them.  The NEW life that God gives is the most valuable gift, because it lasts forever.  Even though Christians may suffer many terrible things in this life, they cannot lose the valuable gift that God has given them.  His eternal life lasts forever.

Do your kids have questions about baptism and salvation? Sign up for the Ask Class.

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

Sign up now!

The goal of this class is to answer the questions of kids and their parents who are seeking to understand the gospel, salvation, baptism, and assurance.  We want to partner with parents, who have been commanded to teach their kids about God.  Our hope is that this class will be a catalyst for more gospel conversations between parents and their children.   The first session covers issues related to Jesus and salvation.  The second session covers issues related to baptism and assurance.

Next Class: Classes will meet again on Sundays, October 17th & 24th.  Register here.

Download Sojourn’s position and process for on childhood baptism.