Dear Northway Church,
This Sunday, September 20 and on Sunday, September 27, we will have the opportunity as a church to come alongside parents as they dedicate their children to the Lord. This is a time for these parents to make a public commitment before God, our church, and their own families. They will have the chance to express publicly their desire to lead and spiritually nurture their children in accordance with the Biblical calling upon parents. Of course, the hope of every parent involved in this service is that they will be able to lead their children into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Due to the need to socially distance, we are having two dedications this fall on this Sunday and next Sunday. We normally have this service a couple of times a year, and often I’m asked why we have these services. Below are several frequently asked questions and their answers.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we continue our series on I Corinthians!
What is the biblical purpose of a child dedication?
The scriptural root of a child dedication is found in 1 Samuel 1:27–28, where a godly woman named Hannah prayed year after year for God to give her a child. He answered her prayer and she gave birth to a son, whom she named Samuel. When Samuel was born, Hannah prayed these words:
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord.”
In Luke chapter 2:22-24, we read of Mary and Joseph bringing the infant Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to dedicate him before the Lord:
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 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
In both Scripture passages, the parents entrusted their child completely to God. The writings of Moses found in Deuteronomy 6:5–9 describe God’s plan for how a parent should raise up a child:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
We ask parents who desire to spiritually nurture their child in this way to publicly make this commitment in a child dedication ceremony. This day then becomes a reminder of the calling God has placed on the lives of the parents.
What are the requirements to have a child dedicated at Northway?
- We ask parents to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- We ask parents to be sure their beliefs line up with Northway’s beliefs.
- We ask parents to be regular attenders of Northway Church worship services.
- We ask parents who are living together and who are not married to take steps to
acknowledge and surrender to God’s plan for their relationship before participating in a baby dedication service.
Are parents required to be members of Northway Church to dedicate their child?
We do not require parents to be members of the church, but we do ask them to make Northway their church home. In this dedication ceremony, parents are committing themselves to raise their child(ren) in a spiritually nurturing environment, and we believe active church involvement is a critical ingredient in that commitment. Moreover, we ask the church to partner with parents in this awesome, sometimes overwhelming responsibility. Obviously, the church is unable to partner with these parents if they are not attending the church.
What happens during a child dedication ceremony?
During the dedication service, parents express vows before God, their family, and the church, declaring their desire to raise their child in a God-honoring way. Because parents are the key role models for their children, they play a primary role in the dedication service.
Parents will be asked to affirm the following four commitments:
- Do you receive this child with gratitude, as God’s gift to you and your family?
- If married, do you commit to each other as parents, creating a stable environment in which your child can mature? Will you make a covenant to strengthen your marriage relationship?
- Do you commit to be parents of personal faith, recognizing your children are more likely to follow God’s path by the model they first observe in you?
- Do you commit to lead a faith-filled home that honors God in all your relationships and in the choices you make in spiritually growing your family?
The church family will also be asked to affirm the following commitment:
Church family, do you take the responsibility to assist these moms and dads as you teach and work with these children, help disciple them, and in your conversations and behavior encourage the spiritual development of these children?
While each child is ultimately responsible for his or her own spiritual decisions and growth, we believe that an environment of dedicated parents and church members will lead to a much greater opportunity for these children to follow Christ.
Does Northway practice infant baptism?
Scripture provides evidence that baptism follows an individual’s decision to trust Christ alone for salvation (Acts 2:41, 8:12, and 10:47–48). Additionally, the New Testament records the baptisms of adult believers only.
In the Bible, we find parents bringing their children to Jesus. He held them, prayed for them, and told us to welcome them. But he did not baptize them and he did not tell anyone else to baptize them. Northway believes baptism is reserved for those who have made a personal decision to trust Christ alone for their salvation, once they have the maturity and ability to understand what that means.
Dedication is not a sacrament; nor does it impart grace or salvation to a child. Salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ as each person recognizes their sinfulness and receives forgiveness and eternal life through Christ and his work on the cross.
Rather than baptizing infants or children, Northway encourages Christian parents to dedicate their children. This is a ceremony in which parents formally call upon God’s blessing for their child and publicly commit to raise him or her in accordance with Scripture.