Although a Baby Dedication Ceremony will look different depending on your church and your unique ministry environment, what you actually say at a Baby Dedication shouldn’t really change from one environment to another. Over the years, I’ve dedicated babies in homes, at parks, and on stages – but the message or sermon has remained the same. Below is a practical outline for building your own Baby Dedication message:
Give Permission For the Chaos
Anytime you add a young child to the mix, things could go off the rails. If you’re dedicating more than one baby, you’re multiplying the opportunities for distractions. It’s not just the babies, it’s the siblings as well as the kids of the family and friends who came to participate. Seriously, kids under age 10 could easily make up a third of your audience and we all know that this kind of audience isn’t going to be patient, polite, or quiet. One of the best things you can actually do to kick off your Baby Dedication experience is to let the tension out of the room. There are stressed-out moms trying to shush all their kids. There’s an uncle who doesn’t have any kids seriously rethinking why he said yes to attending this event, overwhelmed by the nervous energy in the room.
It helps to start by addressing the challenge, even poking fun at the humor of attempting such a serious ceremony with so many distractions in the room. I might say something like “They say public speaking is one of the most common fears and sources for anxiety, but the people who came up with that data probably weren’t thinking – but what if we also filled the room with babies!” It’s really helpful to let people know that you’re not going to talk for very long, so don’t stress about how you’re going to keep your kids calm for a 20-minute sermon. Give parents permission to walk around the room, grab extra snacks and drinks (if you have those available), and feel free to do whatever will help the kids remain happy. Knowing that the Baby Dedication is truly a kid-friendly environment will help every parent relax – which will make every part of the dedication far more meaningful!
Recognize the Blessing of Childhood
I always love starting a Baby Dedication with a video slideshow featuring all the participating families. It’s a really fun and exciting way to draw everyone in right at the start. Everyone tunes in, looking for the child they’re here to dedicate. It also sets up a powerful introduction, recognizing the gift and blessing that is the life of a child.
Yes, many parents are overwhelmed with being a parent. However, just about every parent is also overwhelmed with the blessing of having this beautiful soul added to their family. It’s important to take a minute to recognize the blessing that God has given for two specific reasons. First, recognizing the gift parents have been given sets up what is next, the responsibility to steward what we’ve been given. The next two decades won’t always feel like cuddly blessings of sunshine. Second, it’s important to recognize the depth of gratitude some parents are feeling. For some parents, having a child was very natural. For other parents, having a baby was something they had to fight through. So many parents will experience fertility issues, miscarriage, and even stillbirth before they’ll hold a child in their arms. All children are a blessing, but some parents will feel this a little differently. Make space for parents to feel this. You may even want to acknowledge the journey of pain and loss that led to this moment. This kind of awareness is powerful and very much appreciated.
Speak to the Challenge Parents Face
Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. Parenting will push against every boundary. Parenting is overwhelmingly frustrating. Parenting will be heart-breaking. Kids are the absolute best, but raising them may be the greatest test a parent will ever face.
- How do you help a child discover his value, self-worth, and purpose in life?
- How do you help a child become independent, find initiative, and step into her own?
- How do you help a child foster a personal faith in Jesus, develop strong values, and create healthy boundaries?
We already know that the world is harsh and painful. We know that more than half of kids who grow up in faith will walk away from a personal faith after high school?
Parents have a surprisingly short amount of time to help their kids learn what they need to learn and experience what they need to experience. However, there’s no such thing as a sure thing – only best practices and a whole lot of free will.
Most parents at a baby dedication are in survival mode. They’re wondering when they’ll get a full night of sleep. They’re thinking about a time when they’ll have personal space again. However, helping parents see the long-term challenges is helpful for them to frame the significance of their role, even in this season.
Unpack God’s Plan for Raising Children
Deuteronomy 6 beautifully unpacks a holistic plan for passing authentic faith to the next generation. Moses had 40 years to help the children of Israel to grow in faith and obedience. Moses had a paternal role in preparing a generation to step into their God-given future – just like the parents your baby dedication. What if every parent embraced the things that Moses taught the people of Israel?
When passing faith to the next generation, make it personal. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Because of and through your personal faith in Jesus, impress this faith and message on our kids. It begins with making it personal.
When passing faith to the next generation, widen the circle. When Moses gave his instructions for passing faith to the next generation, he wasn’t just talking to the parents. “Here, Oh Israel” means EVERYONE! Everyone has a part to play.
When passing faith to the next generation, create a rhythm. Impressing faith doesn’t happen in magical moments that you’ll recognize them when they come. Impressing faith happens in everyday (and often boring) rhythms of life. Every day, we share a meal together. Every day, we have the opportunity to tuck our kids into bed. Every day, we load up the family vehicle to shuttle kids to all the places they need to go. Each of these rhythms provides opportunities for consistent conversations where faith takes root, grows, and blossoms into something beautiful.
Parents need constant reminders to be faithful to the simple things that help kids choose faith.
Exchange Baby Dedication Vows
Baby Dedication isn’t just a ceremony. It’s not an opportunity to “present” a child before family, friends, and the church. Baby Dedication is an opportunity for parents, family, and the church to make agreements on how they will invest in the life of a child. Everyone present has an opportunity to make a commitment.
At the Baby Dedication, parents have an opportunity to commit to raising their child in a way so that they can know and follow Jesus. Even with all the obstacles and challenges that face families, parents need to commit to doing everything within their power to prioritize their relationship with Jesus and prioritize healthy relationships in their marriage and family. Making this commitment before God, their church, and their family is critical for the journey ahead.
At the Baby Dedication, family and friends also have an opportunity to make commitments to the child. Everyone knows that influence consists of a multitude of voices. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings and friends will all have opportunities to influence future relationships and decisions. Parents need support and encouragement. The child needs examples and instruction. It’s very important for the guests of the dedication to clarify their commitment to this child and parents.
Lastly, the church has an opportunity to make commitments to the child. This might take the form of the church (participating in the dedication) to verbally agreeing to pray for, supporting, and serving a family. It could also take the form of a pastor committing to provide ongoing support for the family and life-giving community for the child at every age in the coming years. This commitment is so important because it reminds the parents and family that the church is highly invested in a long-term relationship.
Call Everyone to Prayer and Dedication
Lastly, a Baby Dedication is a time of prayer. Not just an eloquent prayer from a trained pastor or a passive prayer where everyone nods their heads – but an active prayer of dedication with everyone involved. If your Dedication format allows, multiple people should be involved in the dedication prayer.
A pastor or pastoral leader should pray. It’s usually best when the pastor or prayer leader opens and closes the time of prayer, opening the opportunity for multiple people to pray. Obviously, the pastoral leader can speak on behalf of the church and ministry that will interact with this family.
A parent (at least one) should pray. This is an opportunity for parents to dedicate themselves to the task ahead. This is a dedicated prayer to God before their friends and family. Truthfully, no one should be able to plead on behalf of a child more so than a parent. Even if it’s a written prayer that is read out loud, parents should pray.
Someone from the family should pray. Obviously, this assumes there are believers in the family. However, there’s something so warm and beautiful when a grandparent or sibling petitions for a child and family they love.
Someone from the community should pray. A friend or someone from the parent’s small group should participate in this way. Parents need the support of non-related friends and family. This is a powerful show of support that will bless both the parents and family who have gathered.
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