I’ll never forget how the words echoed in my heart and mind for days after the conference.
“Never rob a parent of a conversation that they prayed for for years.”
At the time, I was about seven years into children’s ministry and had been teaching baptism classes for children and parents the entire time, but it never occurred to me that I could be robbing a parent of a milestone moment in their child’s life.
For many Christian parents, the prayer for their child to know and love Jesus begins long before their little one ever takes their first steps or utters their first word. I even know parents-to-be who pray for their child’s salvation before they’re ever born! This is why the words of the conference speaker carried so much weight.
As a church leader, had I ever stepped in and robbed a parent of a precious moment or milestone conversation with their child? I instantly thought back to summer church camps and salvation conversations, or baptism services in which students and kids surrendered their life to Jesus. I had always loved those conversations – it was like the highlight reel of summer ministry – those light bulb moments when a child finally understands the cross and their faith becomes personal.
As a young mom and ministry leader, my approach to these conversations began to shift. While my intent was never to not include parents in these conversations, I suddenly became keenly aware of how to very intentionally include parents in as much of the conversation as possible. I even started calling or face timing parents mid conversation while at camp, so they could experience the joy of leading their child to Christ.
The more I thought about what it means for the church to practically partner with parents, the more I began to tweak my approach to the baptism class. Throughout my career in children’s ministry, I’ve been a part of churches who practice believer’s baptism in which any born again believer can and should be baptized by another Christ follower. I realize that some churches may have age requirements for baptism, but for Long Hollow, we do not. We are however, intentional with preparing children for baptism to ensure that every child fully understands their decision. How do we do that?
We start with the end in mind. Every lesson, video, curriculum or resource we provide needs to intentionally share the Gospel in an age appropriate way. We never want to miss an opportunity for a child to hear that God made them, loves them, and sent Jesus to rescue them from their sin. Beyond that, we partner with parents through milestone moments including baptism. Whenever a child is interested in baptism, we invite both parents and children to participate in an hour long baptism class where we invite families into conversation and unpack Scripture together. With Covid, our class logistics shifted and we began offering the class weekly on Zoom. Would you believe that it’s actually been of the best things for us? Now we can connect with families in the comfort of their own homes while our children’s staff guides families through a series of stories, questions, and Scripture. We can host baptism classes at all hours of the day: after school, evenings for working parents, or Saturday mornings; you name it, we’ve done. The format of the class may have changed, but the heart of it has not. We are strategic in how we introduce the topic of baptism through a funny story, then shift to what God’s Word says, and end with a series of FAQ’s that parents ask their child, once again inviting parents to play a pivotal role in navigating this milestone in their child’s faith.
As you think about your church’s approach to baptism and how you prepare kids, consider how you can intentionally invite parents into the conversation.If you’re really ready to take the plunge you could consider starting a discipleship group with your kids! The D-Group Starter Guide will help you get things rolling! Pastors, equip your church members to disciple their kids and develop every other aspect of your discipleship ministry by checking out the Replicate Network.