What is child dedication?
Dedication is a church tradition. It is not taught in the Bible, as for example, are baptism and communion. It is a tradition that churches have developed to celebrate the birth or adoption of a child.
What’s the purpose of child dedication?
The word "dedicate" means to set aside or commit to a sacred purpose. The dedication means committing a child to God and God’s purposes. In one sense, this is what every Christian parent wants to do, but in another sense, parents can’t actually make this decision on behalf of their children – as much as they might wish to! Each child will one day have to make his or her own personal decision about whether or not to commit himself or herself to God. Parents can guide, teach, pray for, and lead their children, but parents cannot choose a life path for their child. So even though we speak of dedicating the child to the Lord, dedication is really a matter of parents dedicating themselves to the Lord. With that in mind, we see two primary purposes for dedication:
- For parents, joined by their church community, to celebrate the birth or adoption of a child, joyfully thanking God for this new addition to the family and to the church community.
- For parents to commit themselves publicly to raise their child in the nurture and love of the Lord, and for the church to pray for them in their awesome responsibility as parents.
Who should have their child dedicated?
If we agree that dedication is primarily parents’ publicly dedicating themselves to raise their children in the nurture and love of the Lord, we’ll agree that these three things should be true of the parents:
- They should be committed Christians. They should have reached a point of believing the Good News – that God invites them to be part of His kingdom, family and mission in this world. They have confidence that Jesus lived and died to pay for their sins and rose from death to give them a new life, that God loves them, and that they can have a growing relationship with God as a free gift of grace. They shouldn’t just be Christian in name – but rather, Christians from the heart, with a sincere personal, committed faith. (If you aren’t sure how to become a committed Christian, please speak with a small group leader or staff member – any of us would be glad to help you take this important step.)
- They should be involved in the church – either as committed members or as people preparing for membership.
- They should take seriously their responsibility to raise their children with a strong spiritual foundation. They should be committed to having their children in church, and even more importantly, to making God a part of their daily lives. There are two beautiful passages that describe this type of parenting, one from the Old Testament, and one from the New Testament:
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up... Deuteronomy 6:5-7
- In the future, when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees, and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?" tell him: "…The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness." Deuteronomy 6:4-25
- Parents do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
What does a child dedication involve?
We generally have child dedications as a part of our regular services. You will be asked to complete a brief Child Dedication Study Guide as part of your preparation to make the six vows. You will be asked to join a group of others who are dedicating their child and to walk on to the stage. The pastor will introduce you and your child. After that, you will be asked to answer "We do" or "I do" after each vow is read to you. The dedication will conclude with a time of prayer.
Can I bring my child to the orientation class with me?
Yes, you may bring your child.
What is the maximum age a child can be dedicated?
A child is generally capable of making a personal spiritual decision for Christ around age seven, so that is the maximum age for dedication.
What should we wear for the dedication service?
You are welcome to wear whatever you would like. Parents and children have worn anything ranging from casual clothes to formal dresses or suits.