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Common Events/Observances: Child Dedications


In This Lesson
Introduction | Why Should Parents Dedicate Their Child? | Are Child Dedications and Infant Baptism the Same?
"The Dedication Ceremony" | General Guidelines for the Dedication | Vows of Dedication
Prayers of Dedication | Bible Verses for the New Baby

Psalm 127:3 tells us that children are a blessing, a gift of God's grace. "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward."

There's no greater moment than when a new child enters a family. In these joyful moments, you as a pastor have the privilege of sharing how parents can express their full appreciation to God through the Baby/Child Dedication.

A Baby Dedication service is similar to a christening, except no water is used. The service usually takes place during the normal Sunday or Sabbath service during which time the parents, family, friends, and church enter into a three-fold covenant:

  • parent to God;
  • parent, family, and friends to child; and
  • the church to parents.
  • Parents promise to teach their child about the love of God, the salvation gift through Jesus Christ, and the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Parents, family, and friends promise to love and nurture the child in accordance with God's Word. The church promises to support the parents in the task of raising their child in the faith.

    Why Should Parents Dedicate Their Child?
    There is solid Biblical evidence to support the dedication of our children.

    • Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord in 1 Samuel 1:24-28.
      24"And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. And the child was young.
      25Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli.
      26And she said, 'Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD.
      27For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him.
      28Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.' And he worshiped the LORD there."

    • Luke records for us in Luke 1:59-64 that Zechariah and Elizabeth dedicated their son, John [the Baptizer].
      59"And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father,
      60but his mother answered, 'No; he shall be called John.'
      61And they said to her, 'None of your relatives is called by this name.'
      62And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called.
      63And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, 'His name is John.' And they all wondered.
      64And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God."

    • Luke also tells us in Luke 2:21-24 that Joseph and Mary took the baby Jesus to the temple for a dedication ceremony in accordance with the Mosaic Law.
      21"And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
      22And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
      23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 'Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord')
      24and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, 'a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.'"

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    Are Child Dedications and Infant Baptism the Same?
    No. Child dedication is not the same as infant baptism. The Catholic Church and some Protestant churches that practice infant baptism believe that children have on them the sin nature passed down from Adam and that they must be baptized in order to be saved. Otherwise, if they should die, they would not be saved.

    Those churches that do not practice infant baptism, however, maintain that baptism is a public statement of faith that can only be made by someone who has understood that he/she is a sinner in need of a Savior and has made a profession of faith in Christ. They object to infant baptism because infants cannot make a personal decision to believe in Jesus.

    The AOCI/ABTI does not seek to coerce anyone to change their practices based on our own interpretations of Scripture, as we believe this is a non-essential, non-salvific issue. We do encourage all persons to be baptized when they have come to understand their sinfulness and have placed their trust in Christ as their Savior and Lord.

    See the lesson titled "Infant Baptism", which delves deeper into the assertions for and against infant baptism.

    The Dedication Ceremony
    At a specified time in the worship service, the pastor invites the parents to bring their child to the front of the church. The pastor may hold the child and read a selected Scripture verse that may relate to the meaning of the child's name. The pastor will also offer a prayer of blessing over the child and the parents.

    During the Child Dedication ceremony, the believing parents, and sometimes entire families, consecrate the child to God's will and pledge to raise the child according to God's Word and God's ways.

    As we said earlier, the Child Dedication service represents a three-fold covenant between the parents, the church, and God. They are making a promise to the Lord — individually and collectively — to do everything within their power to prayerfully raise the child in a godly way until that child can make a decision on their own to follow God.

    The pastor should instruct the parents that they are making this vow of commitment to raise the child in God's ways and not necessarily according to their own ways. Some of the responsibilities include teaching and training the child in God's Word, demonstrating an example of godliness, disciplining according to God's ways, and praying earnestly for the child.

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    General Guidelines for the Dedication
    The following are merely suggestions. We encourage the pastor to move in his/her own anointing and within the framework of any requirements of the denomination or authority over their church and congregation.

    1. Usually, the pastor stands front and center in the hall, sanctuary, or room. The father and mother stand immediately to the pastor's right. If the couple has other children, they usually stand next to the mother.

    2. Godparents, grandparents, and anyone else involved in the dedication should stand to the pastor's left.

    3. The mother holds the baby as they go to the front of the sanctuary.

    4. The pastor should acknowledge everyone involved in the dedication (i.e., grandparents, godparents, the baby's siblings, other friends or relatives). It is important to assent and assert everyone's participation, not only in the ceremony, but in the instruction and training of the child as he/she grows up.

      If grandparents stand with the parents, the pastor may want to say something about "three generations" being involved in the baby's dedication and future development. One Scripture that speaks specifically to grandparents is Proverbs 17:6— "Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers."

    5. As Scripture teaches that the father is the spiritual head of the family, the mother passes the child to the father for the vow(s) of dedication.

    6. After the vow(s) of dedication, the father then passes the baby to the pastor for the prayer of dedication.

    Vows of Dedication
    The following is merely a suggestion. Again, the pastor should recite vows with which he/she is most comfortable and that accurately convey the part God, the Scriptures, and the church will play in rearing the child with a heart for God. The pastor may ask the father and mother, and then others, to indicate agreement with the words "We do" after each vow.

      Pastor: "[Parents, Grandparents, Godparents, Siblings], Scripture teaches: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' and 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' This means you are responsible to teach [child's name] to do the same. As you love God and each other, you will model before [child's name] a wonderful love for God that he/she will want for himself/herself. [Parents' names], by coming forward before God and this assembly, do you declare your desire to dedicate yourselves and [child's name] to the Lord?"
      Parents: "We do."

    The mother gives the child to the father.

      Pastor: "Having come freely, I ask now that you enter into the following commitment in the presence of God and this assembly. "So that [child's name] may walk in the abundant life that Christ offers, do you [parents' names] vow, by God's help and in partnership with the church, to provide [child's name] a Christian home of love and peace, to raise [him/her] in the truth of God's Word, and to encourage [him/her] to one day trust Jesus Christ as [his/her] Savior and Lord?"
      Parents: "We do."

      Pastor: "Modeling this kind of love cannot be done alone. It requires the help of others. For this reason, [parents' names] call upon the help of [godparents' / grandparents' / siblings' / others' names], I now direct my questions to you. By coming forward before God and His people, do you hereby declare your desire to help [parents' names] fulfill the vow they have just made as [child's name]'s [godparents / grandparents / siblings / others]? If so, please respond by saying, 'We do.'"
      Godparents/Grandparents/Others: "We do."

      Pastor: "Having come freely, I ask now that you enter into the following commitment: So that [child's name] may walk in the abundant life that Christ offers, do you vow by God's help, to encourage, through praise and correction, [parents' names] in their effort to raise [child's name] in the fear of the Lord, to uphold them in prayer, and if anything should happen to [parents' names], to assume responsibility in helping [child's name] receive our Lord's guidance and instruction?"
      Godparents/Grandparents/Others: "We do."

      Pastor: "Finally, [parents' names] and [child's name]'s [grandparents / godparents / others] have first responsibility. But parents need the help and support of the community of believers. So, I direct my questions now to the church. Of first importance, do you hereby declare yourselves to be the children of God because you trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life? If so, please respond by saying, 'We do.'"
      Church: "We do."

      Pastor: "Would you please stand? Having come freely, I ask now that you make the following commitment to those who stand before you: So that [child's name] may walk in the abundant life that Christ offers, do you vow by God's help, to be faithful in your calling as members of the body of Christ, to help [parents' names] be faithful to God, and to help teach and train [child's name] in the ways of the Lord so that he/she might one day trust Him as Savior and Lord? If you accept this responsibility, please respond by saying, 'We do.'"
      Church: "We do."1

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    Prayers of Dedication
    The father now gives the child to the Pastor for the prayer of dedication. Below are two example prayers which the pastor may use or alter according to his/her personality and style, and that accurately convey the part God, the Scriptures, and the church will play in rearing the child with a heart for God.

    • Example 1 Prayer of Dedication
      The following prayer involves recitations by the pastor and all in attendance.

      Pastor: "Lord, these tiny hands are so trusting. They are so innocent. And yet they will grow in a world that has been tainted by hatred, greed, sin, and darkness."
      Church: "Lord protect this child. We give him/her to You."

      Pastor: "Lord, the future seems so uncertain and yet we look at this child and mysteriously we have hope."
      Church: "Guide his/her way Lord. Make his/her path straight and give him/her strength. We give this little one to You."

      Pastor: "As parents, spiritual leaders, teachers, mentors and friends, Lord, anoint us to give [child's name] an overwhelming sense of security that can only come from You."
      Church: "Anoint us as ministers, Lord. We want this child to see You in every aspect of his/her life. We give him/her to you."

      Pastor: "When he/she is hurting..."
      Church: "May we minister to him/her through Your power."

      Pastor: "When he/she fails..."
      Church: "May we offer the same grace that You offered to us."

      Pastor: "When he/she is lonely..."
      Church: "May we reach out to him/her, commune with him/her, and remind him/her that You will never leave us nor forsake us..."
      Pastor: "For You are Jehovah-Shammah — the God who is ever-present."

      Church: "When his/her body and mind are attacked by illness or disease, may he/she look to You..."
      Pastor: "For You are Jehovah-Rophe — the Lord who heals."

      Church: "When he/she experiences defeat, may he/she look to You..."
      Pastor: "For You are Jehovah-Nissi — You are our victory."

      Church: "When he/she is needy and poor, may he/she reach out to us and to You..."
      Pastor: "For You are Jehovah-Jireh — The Lord, our Provider."

      Church: "When he/she is lost, and when he/she feels that he/she doesn't have a purpose, guide him/her..."
      Pastor: "For You are Jehovah-Rohi — The Lord our Shepherd."
      Church: "We give this little lamb to You. This is our prayer for him/her:"

      Pastor: "We pray that You will be [child's name] Shepherd, that he/she will not be left in need. Lord, make him/her to lie down in green pastures. May You lead him/her beside the still waters. Restore his/her soul. May You lead him/her into paths of righteousness for Your Name's sake.

      "Yes, even though [child's name] will walk through the valley of the shadow of death, he/she will fear no evil for You are with him/her. May Your rod and Your staff comfort him/her. May You prepare a table before him/her in the presence of his/her enemies. May You anoint his/her head with oil. May his/her cup run over. May goodness and mercy follow [child's name] all the days of his/her life; and we pray that he/she will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen."2

    • Example 2 Prayer of Dedication
      The following is a simple prayer of thanksgiving and praise which the pastor may pray over the child or alter it to fit his/her personality and the church's doctrines/guidelines for baby dedications.

      "God of creation: Your world is full of life and wondrous mystery. In the joys of birth and sorrows of death, we come into contact with the heartbeat of Your glory. You give and You take away, and so we count Your people and Your little ones as gifts and miracles from Your heart, from the Spirit at the center of the universe, and from the center of our lives.

      "May this child, blessed gift entrusted to us, be raised to bear the Spirit of Christ and grow the virtues worthy of the miracle of life. Instill those virtues into the communion between [father's name] and [mother's name], that they may shed light to [child's name] and those around them.

      "Anoint their love and parenting through the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."3

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    Bible Verses for the New Baby
    The following Scriptures, specially selected for Christian parents, may be used for Baby Showers, during Baby Dedication ceremonies, Christenings, birth announcements, or congratulatory greeting cards.

    • "For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there." (1 Samuel 1:27-28)

    • "Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger." (Psalm 8:2)

    • "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward." (Psalm 127:3)

    • Psalm 139:13—

      __________ __________ __________

    • "As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything." (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

    • Isaiah 44:24—

      __________ __________ __________

    • Jeremiah 1:5—

      __________ __________ __________

    • "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18:10)

    • Matthew 19:14—

      __________ __________ __________

    • "And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.'" (Mark 9:36-37)

    • Mark 10:16—

      __________ __________ __________

    • Luke 2:40—

      __________ __________ __________

    • "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:17)

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    ABTI Professor PoolQuestions/Comments?
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    1"Embalming", Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 11 December 2012. Web. 06 January 2013.

    2"Cremation vs. Burial Costs", Money Talks, np. web. 07 January 2013

    3The "Second Coming" — Technically, the Rapture is not the "second coming" of Christ, as He is only coming for the saints, not to make Himself known to the whole world. Because of widespread confusion about this topic, some Bible teachers now refer to the Rapture as the "second coming" and a "third coming" when Christ returns to set up His Millennial Kingdom.