This past Sunday, my 8 month old Cade, now free of chicken pox, received the covenant sign of baptism. We took my three year old boy Connar out of the nursery so that he could be a part of it. During the prayer he asked if he could put water on Cade’s head too. Nice.
He expressed a desire to be a part of Cade’s baptism from the get-go, even telling random people Cade would be getting baptized. His desire to play an active role in Cade’s baptism is admirable. And playing in active role after baptism is quite attainable, yet often over-looked.
One of my favorite parts of the baptism is the question asked of the covenant community. Do you promise to assist the parents in the raising of this child? Sometimes I wonder if people really believe what they say.
I have no reason to believe my current church Redeemer’s members are anything but sincere. Each month we have to use nearly 50-60 adults for the two nurseries, Sunday School, children’s church, and youth groups. That’s probably even a conservative estimate. When people promise to help the parents, that doesn’t mean ONLY serving an existing children’s ministry, but I think it would be disingenuous to quickly rule out serving in an existing children’s ministry. Such are opportunities designed not to replace parents, but to assist them. And we all need assistance.
But formal existing ministries like programs are only part of the picture. In their book Essential Church, Thom and Sam Rainer claim one of the few consistent factors present in the youth who continued their faith in college was adult relationships. Most had a number of them. The more the merrier. A youth pastor and parents are not enough. Our youth need more than that, and that’s why I try to include a team of adults and parents as often as possible in youth ministry.
I wonder how seriously I, and other parents take their children’s baptism. It’s not just a “precious” time (though it was quite moving to watch the video). You are vowing before God and others to raise the child in a Christian home, dedicating him to the Lord. That’s pretty serious stuff. I play baseball with Connar in the front yard on my lunch break and before/after dinner about every day. But I think baptism reminds me of something more important: that God will be faithful in my “informal” ministry times (which definitely outweigh the number of “formal” times like Jesus Story Book Bible reading), so I should take advantage of every available “teaching” moment.
Finally, I also wonder why Presbyterian parents sometimes don’t take advantage of, or want any covenant community involvement in raising their children. Over the years I’ve seen folks who just don’t want any help, and I can’t figure that out. I’ve seen folks agonize about whether or not their children will attend their own church’s VBS. Still, other folks just don’t care about discipleship of their children and so don’t make the necessary lifestyle adjustments. Both seem to goes against the flow of the covenant community structure called the church with which we’ve been so blessed.
I’m thankful to have (and have had at my previous church) a covenant community who has shown love to my two baptized boys and assisted Amy and I in training and raising them. I hope the same is true for you, both in serving or being served by your local covenant community: the church.
Anyhow, these are my baptism thoughts for the day.