Many churches host at least one Baby Dedication each year. In a smaller church setting, it might just be one or two families participating during one of the services. Traditionally, a parent would only need to RSVP for the dedication. Once they’ve made a reservation, they’ll show up at the designated time and participate. If you asked parents who participated in this kind of experience, you’ll likely get nothing but positive feedback. It’s a special day that everyone loves. However, people don’t know what they’ve never experienced. The Baby Dedication can be even more meaningful and personal if a church was even more intentional and purposeful.
Personally, I believe a more meaningful Baby Dedication begins with the Preparation for Baby Dedication Class. This class is a required experience for both parents (I do allow for exceptions) to attend. In the 1-hour class, you have an opportunity to cover a lot of territory.
First, let me start with why I personally believe your church should require a Preparation Class for every Baby Dedication:
- Baby Dedication is MORE than what most parents think it is (most parents may not even understand what it is). A good preparation class will help parents prepare their hearts both for the dedication event as well as for the parenting journey ahead.
- Parenting is difficult and a good Preparation for Baby Dedication Class may provide an opportunity for parents to connect with other parents in the same stage of life who share the same values. If possible, your class shouldn’t be a passive experience of you talking and parents listening. Designing a class where parents engage in dialogue with each other as a response to the content being taught is the recipe to a meaningful experience.
- A good Preparation for Baby Dedication Class is the perfect environment to cast vision for what comes next. Trust me, one of the most difficult parts of Children’s Ministry is getting a group of parents together. This is a captive audience where you can paint a picture of what God-honoring parenting looks like and what steps these parents can take to ensure that faith will be prioritized in the life of their family.
- Lastly, I believe that Baby Dedication is NOT a spectator sport. Parents shouldn’t just come to attend. They should come prepared to actively participate in this dedication, which means they will have a little homework. A good Preparation for Baby Dedication Class will help parents prepare to experience a meaningful Baby Dedication.
Are you as convinced as I am that a preparation class should be required for your next Child Dedication? If so, you really need to consider a couple of things before you launch your first class:
MAKE IT WORTH IT
Don’t require parents to attend a class that isn’t worth their time. Let’s be honest, many parents are going to resent having to attend a class before dedicating their child (especially if they’ve dedicated a child before you instituted the required class). Unfortunately, your might have to deal with some negative attitudes before they even come to the class. That means that the ball is in your court to make the class worth it. Surprise your parents with an experience that they weren’t expecting, something they’ll talk about for days. Here are some ideas to make sure your “required” class is appreciated by every parent who attends:
- Come well prepared. It’s easy to come to a “class” and just wing it.
- Ensure everything is ready. Check your slides/videos. Make sure the room is ready.
- Make it engaging. Include plenty of time for conversations and discussions to happen.
- Default to the positive. Yes, there are a lot of alarming stats concerning parenting that could be shared, but lean toward hope and promise, not gloom and despair.
- Consider the preparation class as PART of the Baby Dedication, not a step before the Baby Dedication.
MAKE IT FIT
When I consider what Baby Dedication is about, I realize that it would be difficult to pull off without a Prep for Baby Dedication Class. It’s not a complicated event, but it is enough for a parent to prepare for the class gathering is really helpful. That alone is reason enough to require a Prep for Baby Dedication Class. However, there are several reasons why this class just fits perfectly where it does. Here are several reasons why this class fits into the bigger Children’s Ministry strategy at your church
- A Preparation for Baby Dedication Class planned just a few weeks before the actual Baby Dedication is the perfect stepping stone for helping parents get the most out of the upcoming event. It’s just enough time to cast vision for the event, give parents some homework to prepare, and just enough time to encourage parents to invite friends and family to participate.
- For first-time parents, this might be their first opportunity to meet the kids ministry staff and see the kids ministry environments. A 1-hour class where relational engagement is prioritized might be the perfect setting to introduce a new parent to your ministry.
- Becoming a parent might be the most intrusive event in a person’s life. For many parents, it takes a year or more to figure out personal rhythms and next steps for both them and their child/children. The Preparation for Baby Dedication Class is an excellent opportunity to help parents reconnect and refocus on the things that matter most.
- The Preparation for Baby Dedication Class is the perfect opportunity to point families to what comes after the Baby Dedication. For some parents, it’s helping them connect on the weekend and attend regularly. For others, it’s helping them see what ongoing spiritual formation looks like at home. For some, it’s pointing to baptism or other faith milestones to look forward to or for older children in their family.
MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE
It’s likely that you’re going to host one or two Baby Dedications a year. Realizing that parents are super busy, it might take a lot of work to ensure that one of those weekends is going to work for the whole family (be sure to advertise your dedication dates far in advance). Additionally, realize that the same is true for your required Preparation for Baby Dedication Classes. Are you only going to offer one? What about the people who can’t attend the class?
For this reason, I always offer at least TWO Preparation for Baby Dedication Classes.
For the last three years, I’ve offered three classes for every Baby Dedication (two in-person and one online). Here are a few things to consider about being accessible:
- Plan your classes 3-6 weeks before your Baby Dedication. If you are dedicating a larger number of families, you’ll love having some built in space between your classes and the event.
- Consider the frequency of your classes. Sometimes parents can’t attend church because of work schedules. Rather than offer classes two weeks apart, I’ll do back-to-back weekends. If your church has Saturday and Sunday services, consider offering one class on Saturday and one class on Sunday.
- For smaller churches that will only dedicate 2-3 families, maybe plan for one class and consult with the families on a secondary option.
- Every now and again, I have a family who genuinely can’t attend one of the scheduled classes. Have a plan to meet with a family or two if necessary.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
If you need a Prep for Baby Dedication Class, make it happen. It will take you a few hours to create really great content, so it’s not that difficult. Just know that you’ll spend years and years tweaking it (it’s never quite done). If you already offer a Baby Dedication Class, consider if what you currently offer needs any adjustments. If it’s stale, freshen it up. If it’s a little boring, spice it up. If it lacks substance, add some compelling content/experiences.
The Preparation for Baby Dedication Class might become one of the most meaningful interactions with parents you have on a regular basis. It might become a launchpad for faith development for kids and their families. It might just become one of the best parts of your favorite parts of Children’s Ministry.
Make it happen!
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