“Why don’t we have a baby dedication service at Bethany like they do at_________ Baptist/Methodist/Non Denominational/Christian- Church?”
That is a really great question I am asked from time to time and I want to take a moment to answer that from both the perspective of a pastor and Christian father.
First, let me share with you that there is no biblical mandate in Scripture that tells the local church to celebrate such observances. In fact, these types of services aren’t even hinted at in Scripture. The only place that this type of observance is found, is in a fairly remote passage in the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel chapter 1 we see the account of a man by the name of Elkanah, who happened to be married to two women (their names are Hannah and Peninnah). Peninnah was the mother of his children, and Hannah was barren. Keep in mind that for a Jewish woman to be unable to bear a child (particularly a son) was to be considered cursed. Having children really was that serious of an issue. So serious was it, that Hannah was tormented. She suffered, and then bargained with God. Her bargain? If God gave her a son, she would “dedicate” him to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11). And true to her word, because God granted her prayer, she did indeed sent her son to live in the Temple with the high priest, and kept her promise that his hair would never be cut. That is the only mention of such an observance (and it was not commanded by God).
So whether the church decides to do this or not is like whether a church decides to sing one hymn over another. That’s the level of importance the Bible places on such things.
Second, let me share with you the total misunderstanding of these types of services. To do so, I want to share with you my experience in ministry that has radically changed my mind. Every church I had been a member of (a whopping total of 2) prior to becoming pastor had done this. So I was under the impression that this was something that needed to be done annually without much validation. As a new pastor, I put out an announcement that any parents who wished to dedicate their child should contact me. And contact me they did; folks I had never met in person but were long time members of that church. Parents who couldn’t find time to bring their children to church found this time to be important so they signed up. I even had a couple sign up who at the time had a child together, in the same house, but weren’t married.
So what is the problem with this? The problem is that child dedication has nothing to do with the intent of the child, but everything to do with the intent of the parent. Infant/child/baby dedication does nothing spiritual for that little one, but it is a serious issue. When a parent dedicates their child, they are making some of the most serious promises to God. They are in essence promising the Almighty that they wholeheartedly desire to do all that they possibly can so that their child will know and love the Lord Jesus.
And so they lie. They lie because up to the point of the service, this hasn’t been true. They say things and make oaths before God and men they have no intention of keeping. In essence. It’s a service that is designed with the intent of trapping people in a lie. And I’m not doing it.
I think the reason is that many people, if not most have confused infant dedication with infant baptism. Infant baptism is the erroneous idea that if an infant is baptized (an unbiblical act) they are somehow saved, or at least protected. It’s a Christian’s luck rabbit’s foot. And that too, is a lie.
Should parents dedicate their children? Absolutely if their heart is in it. This is what drives my pastoral philosophy. So let me spell this out
I don’t plan any annual service for this event, if it happens it happens.
I don’t prompt anyone to do this, this is something parents must decide on their own
If any parents wish to do this, I will make sure it does happen.
If you feel led by God to make a public dedication of your children before the church, let me know and we’ll do it, but with a proper understanding of what we are doing!
PS, we are praying about doing this at some point with Junebug. I won’t announce it, it will just happen at the conclusion of a Sunday service.
Because I love you guys
Pasta B .