For the entirety of my Children’s Ministry career (can you call it that?) I’ve been a part of a few different child dedication events. You’re probably familiar with the idea. This will sound very nonspiritual, but it’s basically the evangelical alternative to infant baptism. There, I said it. It’s not a holy sacrament, like communion or baptism; but it’s important nonetheless to many parents.
So what is it exactly? It’s an event where parents sign up their children to be prayed over in front of the church. I know that many churches do it differently, with many churches adding more meaning than others. Some churches do it only once a year, some do it every few months, and even some others do it every month. It’s a cute event, where babies and young children are dressed up in flowing dresses and toddler suits. I think it’s wonderful that parents want to “dedicate” their kids to the Lord, and want support from their local congregations to parent them accordingly. There are however some inherent problems with a Child Dedication.
At our church we’ve done the cattle-call method for years. Line ’em up and pass them through. In fact, we’ve done it this way for 40+ years. It’s slightly memorable, and slightly forgettable all at the same time. It’s quite the conundrum for someone in my position. I love the idea of child dedication, but was disturbed by the lack of meaning and substance for the family.
Here’s where I’ve taken action. If you identify the moments in a parents life that they are open to opinions, help, and assistance; the weeks and months after having a baby is prime time to have an influence. There are other times as well (kids starting school, child baptism, etc..) In my case, I had the open door of Child Dedications already in place at Trinity, I just needed to add somethings to make it more meaningful.
Then about 2 years ago I met and corresponded with some friends that helped change my way thinking. (Thanks Kenny and Gina!) I listened to their spiels, read their teaching notes, bounced ideas off of them, and eventually formed something for where I’m ministering at. As a group they really challenged me to rethink the way we dedicate kids at Trinity. I then began to plant in the hearts and minds of my leaders what could happen if we changed our process. I mentioned it to people in and around our children’s ministry, and eventually I had some bites on the line. Change was going to happen.
Over the next three posts, I’ll be laying out what we’ve done at Trinity to add meaning and substance to our Child Dedication process. It isn’t a perfect plan, but I like to think of all that we’ve done as step #1 in a bigger plan to see parents awakened to their spiritual responsibility in the home. Remember, baby steps are still steps.