This week I’m writing about the nuts and bolts of how we’re doing Child Dedication here at Gateway Church. Today’s post centers around the actual dedication service. So, I’ll tell you exactly how we’re doing it… right now. By the time we do our next dedication in June, it may look a little different.

Our services is pretty simple Click here for the actual schedule.

Currently we host our dedication services on Saturdays at 11:00 AM. We have several reasons for this.

  • Due to the nature of our Sunday services, there just isn’t any time or availability to do a dedication like this as a part of a service or after the morning services
  • Saturday seems to be an ideal time as it give family and friends time to easily come and go from out of town
  • The morning time works great as many of the kids are in good spirits and families can go out for lunch right after the dedication

Typically we set the service to begin right at 11:05. This ensures that all of our families are here and in place (sometimes we have some late-comers). The service begins with the worship leader starting off with two worship songs. The songs are mostly upbeat and short as many parents are focused more on the fact that they have squirmy kids with them. Sometimes I’ll actually have one of my volunteer leaders kick off the service with an introduction and a short testimony.

After the songs, we go directly to video of a slideshow of the kids participating in the dedication. In the past I began the dedication with the slideshow, but I found that many people didn’t realize that the show had started until 20-30 seconds into the slideshow and the presentation is very beautiful and does a great job of setting the stage for the dedication. I use Animoto for the slideshows and they are PERFECT. If you haven’t used Animoto in the past, click here to sign up. It’s cheap and something you’ll use regularly. Once the slideshow has been rendered, I pay the $5 for a high resolution render. If you are showing this on the big screen, it makes all the difference in the world. Feel free to watch a past slideshow we used at the bottom of this post.

After the slideshow I will speak for 7-9 minutes about Child Dedication, why we do it and its significance. At this point I’ll challenge parents in their commitment to lead their families spiritually. By the time I’m done speaking, the time is usually 11:20. At this time I introduce the prayer leaders and call up the first set of families (one for each prayer leader). The prayer leaders will spend 7-10 minutes praying over each family. I make sure to have enough prayer leaders so that I can get all our families through in no more than 3 rounds. This way the very last family to leave is walking out the doors around 11:45-11:55.

Prayer leaders will introduce themselves to the whole family and will usually start off asking the parents the significance of their child’s name (why they picked that name in particular). The prayer leaders will usually read the meanings of the child’s names and read a scripture verse that ties into the meaning and talk just a little about the significance of that verse in the life of the child. Leaders will usually ask parents about their motivation to have their child dedicated. The leaders typically reinforce the goal of parents recognizing their role and taking on the leadership role spiritually. Prayer leaders usually ask if anyone wants to say anything, encourage the parents or talk about the child being dedicated. I typically ask if there is anyone else who would also like to pray over the family in addition to me. The remainder of the time is spent praying over the child, parents and family present by the leader.

During all of this time, the worship leader continues to play music or lightly sing in the background while the slideshow continues to play on the main screen.

Once families are finished being prayed over, they are free to leave. They go to the lobby to pick up their certificate and book and also get their picture taken in the courtyard. Within a week or two, pictures will be ready for families to access where they can download high quality originals or order prints. We use a church smugmug account with works really well for all of this. Click here to see our galeries. I have a good friend who is a professional photographer (her husband is also my key dedication leader) that takes all the pictures. I usually thank her with giftcards to show my appreciation.

So, that’s essentially the nuts and bolts of our dedication service. Our goal is that the service be short and sweet, but significant and meaningful. Most importantly, we want every family to feel like their experience was loving and personal.