I think we all understand that churches should be all about strengthening families. Yet often the structures we set up in our churches have a tendency to undermine certain aspects of family cohesion.
For example, in many churches children and parents go their separate ways at the start of church time and only come back together after they’ve had their separate spiritual training. There is very little or no opportunity for parents to take an active role in their children’s spiritual education during church time.
At the same time it is also true that there are many positive aspects to segregated, age-focused spiritual training, so I’m not suggesting that this model of church life needs to change.
And frankly, many parents probably don’t mind this set up. After all parents can feel inadequate when it comes to explaining spiritual truths to anyone.
When Opportunity Knocks …
But I would like to point out that some types of spiritual training present an opportunity to engage parents and their children in a common learning activity.
And I think baptism preparation can easily be made into one of those integrated teaching times, one where parents can be pretty easily included in their children’s preparation for baptism. This is true because of the special importance of baptism in a believer’s life. This special importance can provide motivation for parents to be willing to set aside time to be involved. It also can motivate them to move out of their comfort zone and take a more active role in teaching than they might normally take.
In this article I’m going to focus the discussion around issues of most interest to church staff and volunteers. However, I hope that you parents who have read up to this point will “listen in” to see why your involvement is a valuable contribution to your child’s baptism preparation.
Parental Involvement Has Its Challenges
As a children’s education worker, you are probably aware that parental involvement in your classroom can sometimes create some tough situations. Some children will be less attentive and more distracting to others when their parents are in the room. Some parents may interject comments into the discussion that confuse the point you are trying to make.
And having parents present can create a good deal of stress for you due to the “fish bowl” effect. This is the feeling you get that everything you’re doing in the classroom is being examined under a microscope.
Finally, some parents may not desire to be involved. Worse, they may attend the classes but go away feeling their presence was a waste of their time.
6 Reasons for Parental Involvement
Yet, despite these difficulties, here are 6 reasons why I think it’s worth the extra stress and effort to encourage parents to take an active role in your baptism preparation class.
- Baptism presents a unique opportunity to help families bond more strongly as they participate together in a landmark celebration in the life of a believer. Obviously the act of accepting Christ and His free gift of eternal life is the most significant decision any person can ever make (if you are not familiar with this concept of obtaining eternal life, please visit this link for more information). So bringing the members of a family together to explore the deep meaning of baptism and how it celebrates this important decision will help strengthen that family through a memorable classroom experience that is shared.
- Having parents be present during your class helps underscore, in the minds of your children, the significance of the topic. This in turn can help create a greater sense of appreciation for the great gift God has freely given to us.
- Parents will better be able to see for themselves if their child happens not to be ready for baptism. Your job will then be easier if it becomes necessary to suggest to parents that their child would be better off waiting to be baptized.
- Unsaved parents who participate may get saved as a result of hearing the material you present to their children. Wouldn’t that be a joy?
- Parents who are saved may experience a reawakening of some of their earlier joy over their salvation. This would be a powerful inducement to worship God for an experience that they may have grown to take for granted.
- Parents from the different families who participate may experience a greater sense of community as they participate in the shared experience of preparing their children for baptism.
Families have ample opportunity to go their separate ways both inside and outside of church. Baptism presents a unique opportunity for you to help encourage a greater sense of bonding for families. Despite any challenges you face for including parents, I would urge you to seriously consider taking advantage of the many pluses to including parents. Your efforts in this regard will broaden the impact of your ministry to children.
This concludes our Child Baptism Preparation Mini Newsletter series. Whether you are a parent, a church volunteer, or a church staff member, I hope you’ve found the information engaging and useful.