“The Basics” — these are what we say an athlete needs to revisit when she or he is experiencing “The Slump.” It’s the remedy most often prescribed for those who suddenly start struggling with a skill that they mastered long ago.
There’s a strange irony in this; we’re basically saying, “OK, Mr. or Ms. Super Star, you’re struggling because you’re acting too much like a Super Star. To get back to your Super-Star edge, you need to act more like a beginner.
And this advice generally works.
Because what we call The Basics are those essential elements that everyone — pro or beginner — needs to practice to compete effectively. The Basics include all the things that enhance performance and none of the things that either undermine or distract from good performance.
The Basics for Baptism
Baptism preparation for children also has a set of The Basics. These are the elements that good baptism materials will have. I believe The Basics should cover 5 areas:
- The materials must be based on the Bible and present an explanation of baptism that is faithful to Biblical teaching. This Basic is the most critical of the five. Obviously if the material we teach is flawed in significant ways, we won’t be teaching what we’ve set out to teach. It would be regrettable if we taught flawed concepts in a memorable and life-impacting way.
The materials should include a clear review of salvation (if the term salvation is unfamiliar to you, click here for an explanation). This Basic forms the foundation for a proper understanding of the purpose of baptism. If the relation of baptism to salvation is missed, a fundamental gap will exist in the child’s understanding of baptism.
Further a clear review of salvation can also be used to help ensure that children preparing for baptism have actually made a genuine, properly grasped commitment to Christ. We must do all we can to avoid the situation where a child has said “the right words”, maybe to please a teacher or a parent, but has missed the true meaning of salvation. If a child has not trusted Christ to forgive her or his sins, baptism preparation will be of little value.
- Baptism preparation materials should be engaging — something that captures the imagination of a child. Competing for the attention of today’s children presents a real challenge in our church classrooms. The fast-moving images of video games and the sparse sprinkling of reading material that most children take in makes teaching something as “ordinary” as baptism a bit difficult. The more engaging your preparation materials, the more impact your teaching will have.
- Preparation should allow adequate time for children to absorb the material. While it’s tempting in the hustle and bustle of modern society to compress preparation for baptism to a single session, our children can only absorb deep spiritual truths so quickly. If you skimp on time, you may encourage a shallow appreciation for this important ceremony.
Materials for children should avoid dwelling on elements of baptism that might cloud the most important issues of baptism. Preparation that gets too complex, that presents too broad a set of information, or that emphasizes secondary issues may leave a child without a clear sense of the central ideas about baptism.
Look for materials that stay focused on the preeminence of salvation as the focal point for baptism.
My desire for my children was that their baptism would be a ceremony that they would remember fondly as they grew up. I also hoped it would be a reminder to them of the great gift we have received, as believers, from the mighty Creator of the universe — and the Creator of each one of us.
I have the same desire for your child or children. And I believe baptism materials that include these Basics will create a meaningful baptism experience all the way into the adult years.
Coming Up: In our next mini newsletter article we will cover
Child Baptism – Navigating Around the Rocks of Doctrinal Error.