Baby Dedication and the Heart of a Mother
By Kevin Spear
This Mother’s Day, many churches will have a time for baby and child dedications. Some children will behave as little angels while an adoring congregation will fawn over the cute, little ones. Other children will unwittingly be the subject of a viral video that will delight social media and mortify their parents for years to come. Thanks to precocious, ornery kids, child dedications can be anything but predictable.
Despite the risks of wailing children and baby formula-stained outfits, child dedication serves an important role in the church. The Bible refers to godly women and parents dedicating their children.
“And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life.’” —1 Samuel 1:11 NIV
“When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” —Luke 2:22 NIV
In the Church of God, we trace the practice back to Anabaptists. When they broke from the Catholic Church, they declared there should only be a believer’s baptism. Instead, they embraced child dedication as an alternative, as we do today.
Pastor Paula Spear is the family pastor at Catalyst Church, a Church of God congregation in Pendleton, Indiana. She sees child dedication as a precious time of commitment. “I have seen parents who were new to the faith stand together and dedicate their children. To me, it’s a reminder how important a parent’s role is in the life of a child. It also calls on the congregation to help them raise their children to love and follow Jesus.”
Pastor Johnny Creasong loves child dedications. “A baby/child dedication is an event for the family to celebrate that their family belongs to the Lord and parents are thankful to the Lord for this child. I like to make dedications personal with gifts for parents and an Egermier’s Bible Story Book for the child.”
He continues, “Our parents have always appreciated the dedication. I include the fact that this is really a dedication of the parents to raise this child in the ways of the Lord. I include all the family members because ‘it takes a family!’ And I ask the congregation to affirm their commitment to provide the instruction and nurture needed to raise this child and help these parents point this child to Jesus.”
Pastor Samme Rousoupolis emphasizes the importance of milestones and child dedication. “I believe people need markers in their lives that they can look back on and ‘mark’ the time such an event happened. It also gives parents an opportunity to invite non-church family and friends to attend the dedication and begin faith conversations.”
Paula and Samme use this time to teach and prepare parents for their responsibility. Paula said, “I have hosted a family dedication class and talked through material about who you wanted your child to become, the importance of their roles as parents, and the importance of living out Deuteronomy 6:7. During the class I asked parents to find a Scripture passage that they wanted to pray over their child on the day of the dedication as well as put it on their child’s dedication certificate.”
Samme replied, “I used to do a two session, first teachers class for parents wanting to dedicate their children, discussing first the importance of the parents’ faith in raising their children and then the role of the church. There’s so much that can be taught and learned. This act is both for church and parents. When it comes down to it, it is really a vow parents make to God.”
That said, child dedications can be adventurous, if not humorous. Paula recalls, “There have been a few babies that cried when I would go to hold them. I finally decided it was better to have a parent hold the child rather than have a stranger try to hold them! Instead, I would typically put my hand on their little back. One other time a baby kept trying to grab the microphone.”
Apparently, the little one felt a very early call to preach.
Parenting in today’s world has challenges no other generation has faced. As a pastor and mother, Paula knows this full well. “I believe parents are to be the primary spiritual influences in a child’s life. As they stand before the church to dedicate their baby or child, they are committing to teach them the ways of Jesus. I encourage parents to take Proverbs 22:6 to heart.”
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 KJV
She continues, “It is also a special time for the church to say that they will commit to pray and support the family.”
Throughout the Bible, and in church history, there are many examples of mothers who passed their faith down to their children. Child dedication is a way to encourage mothers and fathers to pass their faith to the next generation. May we, as the church, stand to help them with this challenging calling.
Kevin Spear worked for Warner Christian Resources (formerly Warner Press) and has regularly contributed time and talent to the work of Church of God Ministries. He is a ministry partner with his wife Paula, a Family Ministry Pastor at Catalyst Church, Pendleton, Indiana.
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) stock photo by Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash.