Why do we dedicate instead of baptize?
Some faith traditions baptize children as a way of affirming their security in God’s salvation. We believe that God does not hold children responsible for things that they cannot understand so they are covered by God’s grace and live in that security until they reach the age at which they can understand the concepts of sin, faith, repentance and salvation. We also believe that the Scriptures present the model of child dedication originally in the dedication of Samuel by his mother Hannah in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 1:9-28). Also, Jesus parents presented Him at the temple in dedication (Luke 2:21-24).
What are we actually doing in bring children to be dedicated to God?
A number of people have rightly asked why we present children to God in dedication when He has given them to parents as gifts (Psalm 127:3). What parents are actually doing is identifying their children as holy, or set apart for the Lord. In dedication they thank God, recognizing that the child is a gift from His hand, and they also acknowledge God’s claim on the child’s life that they would live in a way that honors Him and that follows His purposes. The dedication element to this ceremony is more about the parents than it is about the child. Parents present themselves to the Lord with their children committing themselves to the responsibility of raising that child to know God and honor Him so that they may at some point choose to love and serve Him for themselves.
What happens in the dedication ceremony?
The parent or parents of the child along with supportive friends and family members stand before the attending pastor and the gathered congregation. They will be reminded of the responsibility they have been given and asked to enter into two specific promises as they dedicate themselves to this important work. The promises are:
- Do you pledge as parents that, with God’s fatherly help, you will bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, making every reasonable effort, with patience and love, to build the Word of God, the character of Christ and the joy of the Lord into their lives?
- Do you promise to provide, through God’s blessing, for the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of your children, looking to your own heavenly Father for the wisdom, love and strength to serve them and not use them?
After making these promises, prayers are offered over the parent or parents asking for God’s wisdom, strength and provisions to fulfill this vow and raise their child as they have promised.
The end of the dedication involves prayers of blessing that are prayed over the child. These are affirmations of God’s promises and prophetic glimpses into the kind of person that they will grow up to be.
Does this dedication only apply to infants?
No. We encourage parents to dedicate children up to the age of 10. Some parents have been separated from their children for various reasons, or they have only come to know Christ themselves after their child turned 4 or 5 years old. This dedication applies to these circumstances as well.
Do both parents have to be present for this dedication?
If both parents are believers and are together, they both should be present and involved in the dedication. In the case of divorce or one parent being removed from day to day responsibility of raising the child, these single moms or dads are welcome to present their child in dedication.
How do I go about arranging to have my child dedicated?
We try to provide regular opportunities for child dedications, so watch for announcements about these dates. Otherwise, just contact the church office and make this request. Arrangements will be made within a reasonable time frame to schedule your dedication into one of our services.