Are you and your spouse thinking about Child Dedication? Learn more about our "why" here!
1. The Purpose
So what is a Child Dedication and why should you consider dedicating your child(ren) to the Lord? The following explains what we believe about dedicating a child to the Lord.
Deuteronomy 6:7 instructs us to take God’s Word and “…repeat it again and again to our children. We are to talk about it when we are at home and when we are away on a journey, when we are lying down and when we are getting up again.” This is a basic model for teaching children about God in the home. The perspective taught in this passage is that the parents are primarily responsible for the spiritual development of their children.
This is an important concept to fully understand and embrace. Whereas Christian schools and the local church’s Sunday school have traditionally been looked to as the places where children learn about God, the Bible teaches us that children really need to learn from their parents. Christian school and Sunday school are excellent supports and supplements to this maturation process, but the final responsibility is in the home.
This is no small responsibility! Even the most “spiritually-minded” person can be intimidated by the task of raising a child to fear and follow the Lord God! A Child Dedication enables a parent to come before the church and publicly state this is their desire. And it helps parents to feel more confident that they have a wonderful support structure for this most noble task.
2. Child Dedication is for the Parent
As you read about Child Dedication, you will no doubt begin to discover that it is really for you, though your child will greatly benefit!
Once you have concluded that God has given YOU the challenging task of being the primary person responsible for your child’s spiritual development, then you can take the next step of dedicating your child to the Lord. There are three commitments you are making in dedicating your child to the Lord.
I am committed to following the Lord with a sincere heart, and by His grace, obeying His Word.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people whom He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:12-13)
I am committed to making my home a place that nurtures spiritual growth in my child(ren).
“Let the Words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use His Words to teach and counsel each other. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)
I am committed to being involved in my local church, both giving and receiving from the body of Christ.
“Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)
These are primary commitments that are necessary for you to be able to raise your child to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, there is no guarantee that every child who is raised by parents who make this commitment will one day embrace the Christian faith as their own, but it does increase the chance of this happening many times over!
3. History of Child Dedication
The idea of dedicating children is not a new one. It has been going on for many decades in the evangelical church. It serves as a way for parents to make a public commitment to raise their children in the fear of the Lord.
Some have used Hannah’s dedication prayer (1 Samuel 1:11) and Joseph and Mary’s presentation of Jesus at the temple (Luke 2:22-24, 27) as the passages of Scripture that give credibility to the idea of dedicating children to the Lord. In the former, Hannah desperately prays for a child since she is barren. In return for this precious gift, she vows to give the child “back to the Lord” for His purposes here on earth. In the latter passage, Joseph and Mary were fulfilling a requirement of the Law of Moses given in Exodus 13:2.
Though these passages are interesting to consider, they should not be considered on the same level as for instance biblical instructions regarding the Lord’s Supper or Baptism. Whereas these two are ordinances of the church and are an integral part of our daily faith, not dedicating one’s child would not be considered disobedience in the sight of the Lord!
4. Dedication & Baptism
Baptizing infants in the church has been going on for centuries. Some do this as a symbolic act of showing that the child is a member of God’s family because the parents are members of the church. Others do it because they believe it is a means of gaining grace and helping one gain entrance into the kingdom of God.
We do not baptize infants because it is not consistent with what we believe the Bible teaches about baptism. The following is a brief description of what the church believes about baptism.
Baptism doesn’t make you a believer. Rather, it shows that you already believe.
“For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
Baptism doesn’t save you, only your faith in Christ does that.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith...it is the gift of God -not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
Baptism is like a wedding ring: it’s the outward symbol of the commitment you made in your heart.
“For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ.” (Colossians 2:12)
Child Dedication is not meant to replace baptism. As your child grows up and, by God’s grace, makes a decision to follow Jesus Christ, he or she can then make the decision to obey God in baptism.