Though there are many spiritual milestones in a child's life, there is a unique connection between child dedication and baptism. The dedication of children anticipates their baptism. Parents dedicate their children in the hope that they will “belong wholly to Jesus Christ forever” as explained in Dedicated to the Lord.
One of the promises that parents make is to regularly pray that, by God’s grace, their child “will come to trust Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of his/her sins and for the fulfillment of all His promises to him/her, even eternal life and in this faith follow Jesus as Lord and obey His teachings.”
This promise links to the questions the child will be asked when, Lord willing, he is baptized several years later: “Are you now trusting in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins and the fulfillment of all His promises to you, even eternal life?” and “Do you intend, with God’s help, to obey Jesus’ teachings and to follow Him as your Lord?” (included in Established in the Faith).
A Church Leader’s Guide to Child Dedication and Youth Baptism has been prepared to serve church leaders who are responsible for planning and overseeing child dedication services and/or the baptism of young people. The content has been drawn from author David Michael's 23 years of experience in two different churches. In both churches, the dedication of children and preparation of young people for baptism were connected to and designed to reinforce the biblical vision for the discipleship of the next generation pursued in those churches.
Certainly, the preparation process, content of the instruction, communication, and service details will vary with the unique traditions and culture of each church. We are happy to provide a framework for pastors and ministry leaders to be adapted and used to effectively serve their churches.
This guide is meant to be a companion to the booklets Dedicated to the Lord and Established in the Faith. These two companion booklets outline the biblical principles and vision behind the dedication of children and, when the time is right, preparation for baptism.