As parents, we have a tendency to either overestimate or underestimate our role in our children’s spiritual growth. No matter how hard we try, we cannot “save” our kids, only God can do that. However, we have the most vital role possible in teaching our children the Word of God, training them as followers of Jesus, and modeling for them what it looks like to follow Jesus with every fiber of our being. In fact, what our children need more than any programming that our church can offer is for us to have growing and vibrant relationships with Jesus Christ. They need to see that our relationship with Christ infuses every area of our lives with meaning, purpose, and power. This isn’t just a good idea, it’s God’s idea. In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, God says to his people:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And theses words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
In light of this, I would encourage you and your spouse to discuss how you can both systematically (when you go to bed, when you wake up) and informally (as you sit, as you walk) teach your children the ways of the Lord as this is a responsibility that God places on you. Creating a structure in your family schedule helps you “teach diligently”, while not limiting conversations about Jesus to only those times. With that being said, let me assure you that you are not alone in teaching your children. In fact, as a church, we are committed to coming alongside you in teaching, training, and nurturing your children with the hope that they make a conscious decision to follow Jesus Christ themselves. Our desire is to supplement what you do, but not replace you. Let me say it again to be clear. What your children need more than the best children’s programming around is to see you walk out an authentic and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. That will speak to and influence their lives beyond anything that a church could program.
What is child dedication?
Child dedication is a commitment on behalf of parents and the Rock Hill church community to cooperate with God in His purposes for your child by teaching and modeling the truth of God and the wonder of Jesus’ love to your kids. God has great plans for your child (Ps 139, Eph 1:4-6) and loves them even more than you do. During a child dedication service, you commit your child to the Lord and commit yourself to raising him or her in the ways and teaching of the Lord. Think of your work as “giving them a daily dose of spiritual vitamins” so that they might some day by the grace of God choose to follow Jesus with every fiber of their being.
How is child dedication different than baptism?
At Rock Hill Community Church, we believe that baptism is the response of a person when they put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. It is a public declaration of their allegiance to Christ. Because a baby or young child cannot make that decision, we do not baptize them. As a parent, you ultimately do not choose whom they will marry, where they will live, and many other things that they have to decide. Likewise, you can’t “decide” for them what their relationship with Christ will be. They must do that for themselves.
What happens at a child dedication service?
During one of our corporate worship gatherings, the families who are dedicating their children are invited to come to the front of the church and each parent and child is introduced. Together the parents commit themselves to raising the child in a Christ-centered home, teaching their child the Scriptures, and modeling for them what an authentic relationship with Christ looks like. In turn, the church community dedicates itself to coming alongside you as parents in this task. One of our church elders will then pray over each family and commit the child to the Lord.
Why do we dedicate children?
While we do not agree that baptizing children is appropriate, we do think it is important that we both dedicate children to the Lord (because they are ultimately His) and welcome them into the covenant community — the family of God. This does not mean that they are saved, but it does mean that we are formally committing ourselves as the children’s parents and spiritual family (church) to take seriously the commands in Scripture to raise and instruct children. Because child dedication is a commitment on behalf of parents and the Rock Hill church covenant community, we would encourage any parents attending Rock Hill to become members before dedicating their child.
We see that dedicating children to the Lord is not uncommon in Scripture as Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord (1 Sam 1:27-28), Jesus was dedicated by Mary and Joseph at the Temple (Luke 2), and every Jewish boy was circumcised as a “welcome into the covenant community.” Many of our Christian brothers think that this is why children should be baptized. We respectfully disagree while also acknowledging the legitimacy and importance of welcoming children into the new covenant community of the church.