THE CHILD DEDICATION CEREMONY HAS FULL BIBLICAL AUTHORIZATION AND MAY BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR REFLECTION AND COMMITMENT FOR CHURCH MEMBERS. WHEN IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THE PASTOR TO BE PRESENT, AN ELDER MAY PERFORM THE CEREMONY.
Here are a few suggestions and ideas to enrich this special service.
According to the Elder’s Handbook, the ceremony should be organized in such a way that it focuses on four basic objectives:
1. Thank God for the miracle of life;
2. Lead parents and family to commit themselves to raise the child in the ways of the Lord;
3. Lead the congregation to commit themselves to support the family in this task; and
4. Bless the child, dedicating him or her to God. (For more information, read chapter 8 of the Elder’s Handbook).
Ideally, the child dedication is part of the worship service on Sabbath morning; however, there is nothing wrong with performing a separate service during the week. When the ceremony takes place on Sabbath, it could be scheduled during the children’s story, and the children of the church can be invited to go forward and participate in this important moment. Some Bible texts—Deuteronomy 6:4-7; 1 Samuel 1:27, 28; Proverbs 3:1-18; and Ephesians 6:4—may be used in the ceremony.
BEGINNING OF THE CEREMONY
Following is a sample of what a pastor or elder might say during the ceremony:
“It is my privilege at this time to participate in the dedication of (child’s full name), born on (date and place). I would like to invite the parents (mention their names) of the child to come forward for this important moment in the life of this family and of the church.
“Following the example of devoted biblical parents, you have expressed the desire to dedicate this child to the Lord “This dedication may not ask for the sacrifice required from Abraham, who was called to dedicate his son at the altar, or Hannah, who left her son Samuel to serve the Lord at the temple with Eli, the high priest. However, it is a great privilege and responsibility for you to come before the church and make a public commitment that you will do all you can to raise your child in the ways of the Lord. Jesus showed His love and care for children when He said: ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. . . . And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them’” (Mark 10:14-16).
In every child dedication there are certain responsibilities we need to share.
The parents’ responsibility. “The first responsibility for the care of this child (mention child’s name) certainly belongs to the parents. The Bible says: ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it’ (Prov. 22:6). Parents, before we dedicate this child, I invite you to make a covenant with God:
• “Is it your desire to dedicate this precious soul to God?
• “Do you promise to raise this child in the ways of the Lord?
• “Do you understand that it is your responsibility to educate this child not only for this life but also for eternity?
• “Do you promise to do everything you can so that one day he/she accepts Jesus as his/her personal Savior?
• “Do you promise to be examples of true and genuine Christians for him/her?”
The family’s responsibility. “This child also needs to be positively influenced by other members of the family represented here. It is your responsibility and privilege to be a part of this mission. I would like to invite all family members present to stand and make a commitment with God:
• “Do you promise to provide spiritual counsel and pray for this child and his/her parents?
• “Do you promise to participate in the physical, mental, and spiritual growth of this child?”
The church’s responsibility. “There is another agent of influence represented here today: the church. At this time I would like to invite all church members to stand, demonstrating your acceptance as part of this commitment and responsibility:
• “As church members, do you promise to pray for this child?
• “Do you promise to provide an environment that will foster his/her spiritual growth?
• “Do you promise to show kindness, love, and affection?”
Commitment and prayer. The father may say a short prayer, and then the pastor or elder takes the child in his/ her arms and prays. The four objectives of the child dedication ceremony outlined above should be mentioned in the prayer.
When the ceremony is over, the child is returned to his/ her mother, a certificate is given to the child’s parents, and the church may congratulate the family by clapping or with some other appropriate gesture. Make this moment an occasion of joy and inspiration for all.
Jonas Arrais is the editor of Elder’s Digest magazine.