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Child Dedication Service and Follow-up

childdedicationfinal

The ceremony/event/service(whatever you want to call it) where parents are recognized and children are “officially” dedicated isn’t much different than years past.   We have a slide show that shows a picture of each child, with birth date, scripture verse (selected by their parents), and a meaning for the child’s name.   We asked parents to email us this information in the two days immediately following the dedication class.   We will help parents with the verse and name meaning if they don’t have anything specifically picked out.   This is always fun, and where we get most of our oohs and ahhs during the Dedication ceremony. :)

These slides are displayed on the main screens as I read their names and they approach the stage with their child and any additional family that wants to be on stage.   With families on stage I give a 60-second recap of what the parents have done by attending the class, and making this great commitment to spiritually lead their children.   I also exhort the congregation to support these families with their prayers, words, finances, and service. I remind the families that their children are receiving a small Bible as a gift, and it is their responsibility as parents to help the truths of this Bible to come to life in front of their children.   I will then ask that our Senior Pastor come up and with the support of the congregation pray over these parents and their children.

Each family is given a gift bag that includes the book Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna (this is usually my recommended book for those with small children looking to start good family habits,) a small decorative gender-specific children’s bible, and of course a teddy bear.   Why a teddy bear?   I don’t know, except its what has always been done. :)   Somethings just don’t need changing, right?

I have sent out a follow-up survey to parents that went through the steps to dedicate their children, and I hope to be compiling their thoughts for future adaptations.

What would I like to see changed?

I would like to do more things at the actual dedication ceremony to bring more light on our parents and the commitment they are taking to spiritually lead their families.   Things beyond my control will have to change, but stranger things have happened.

I would like to do something more celebratory for our families.   I know of some churches that hold special celebration services for people to invite friends and families to.   This is a cool idea, and something we will be working towards.   If you do this, please share your ideas!

I would like to create a more personal gift for the families that have gone through the Dedication process.   I’ve loved the things that Ned Gable did at his church with their Dedication book.   (A+ Nedgible!)

I’m still thinking through how to connect this dedication process with the other family moments I identified.   How can I tie in Child Dedication with Baptism and Salvation moments?   How can I help parents stay open to parental encouragement and learning?

I looking into offering the class on two different dates to keep the number lower, and create a more intimate classroom setting.   More is not always better.   I also think that offering an identical class on a different week night, might open a door for families that couldn’t attend the Wednesday night class option.

I would like to offer this same 80-minute talk over a few 5 weeks.   I think it might make a great parenting seminar type thing.   I’m not sure there will be interest, but I’m going to just keep the idea on the shelf in case it happens later.   I am teaching the class for our school’s parenting night, so that’s a bonus!

Overall I think that for our first go-round with Child Dedication changes it went well.   There are some reading this that think everything I’ve done is super lame; but we had to start somewhere.   We went from a do nothing to doing something pretty well.   There is tons of room for improvement, but with this small victory under our belt I will working to evolve this event into even greater things for our parents and children at Trinity.

So here are my questions.   What do you do at your church?   Where are the holes in my plan?   What would you suggest to add more meaning and takeaway for parents?   Is there something I did that you like?   Do Share!

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.

2 Comments

  1. Ellen · October 15, 2009

    For many years, our dedications once we had at least 3 kids ready to do it. We’re a smaller church, so sometimes we didn’t do it for a year, which led to having highly active children trying to race back down the aisles! We’re now doing them individually whenever the parents are ready. The pastor has the family answer a set of questions about their willingness to raise their child in the faith community, and the congregation is asked to support this family’s spiritual growth as well. We present a beautiful book (Psalms for Young Children, by Marie-Helene Delval, illustrated by Arno) and a certificate. Because our church is very missions-minded, the children’s ministry also makes a donation in honor of the child to our church’s birthing kit project, which packs and sends basic medical supplies for home birth to women in Kenya.
    The best part, though, is that we ask people to get out of the pews and lay hands on the family and the child while we pray for them. It is so moving to watch as parents realize the depth of the congregation’s support for them and their child.

  2. Dionne Merriott · October 16, 2009

    I’ve been following the posts about child dedication and had a idea for a more personalized gift for the parents. The screen that is shown when the child is introduced with their photo and scripture verse could be made into an 8 x 10 photo for the parents. You could include the photo, family photo, scripture, and the priciples you go over in the parenting class. This could be framed and given to the parents to hang as a visual reminder of their commitment. It would incorporate some of the information in the Dedication book that you mentioned from another site, but would be something that parents would see every day.

    I really like seeing the dedication photo and information that is shown, but with so many children it isn’t up long enough to read it all. This would be a way to have it be a permanent keepsake for the parents.