These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
In this passage God has placed the primary responsibility for the spiritual training of our children squarely on our shoulders.
If you’re like me, this responsibility is a heavy burden to carry.
And unfortunately I’ve fallen short in many ways of carrying out my responsibility.
Fortunately, my children have been involved in terrific Sunday School programs and youth groups that have developed their spirituality.
Even so, spiritual upbringing remains my responsibility, even if I’m not that good at it. And with a topic as important as our child’s salvation and subsequent baptism, it is especially important that we take responsibility for the spiritual training.
However, I don’t believe taking responsibility requires that we do the training ourselves. Certainly doing it ourselves is one approach. But I think taking responsibility for baptism preparation can be fulfilled by taking on more of a supervisory role.
So to the question, “Should I do baptism preparation with my child if my church does baptism preparation?”, I would answer:
What is the Preparation Like That Your Church Provides?
It depends on how much depth your church’s preparation includes. It depends on how many class sessions your church takes for your child’s preparation. And it depends on how much you want to be involved.
For me, I wanted to be involved as much as possible. For a milestone as significant as baptism, I did not want to sit on the sidelines and let someone else shoulder the task of doing all the baptism preparation. I wanted to play an integral role.
And at the time my two boys were ready to be baptized, which was also the time frame in which I wrote Joey’s Baptism, my church offered very little baptism preparation for children.
So this situation provided a perfect opportunity for me to take on the main role in their baptism.
The amount of involvement you take on will depend on your answers to these questions:
- Do you think your church should offer a deeper level of baptism preparation?
- Do you think your church should spread baptism preparation over more sessions?
- Do you want direct involvement in your child’s baptism preparation?
If your answer is yes to any of these, then you will probably want to consider supplementing the preparation your church provides with additional, at-home preparation.
Alternatively, you could talk to your church’s child ministry director to see if you can get their program modified, either to go into greater detail, to take more time, or to allow greater parental involvement.
With whatever approach you take, I would advise that you avoid looking at your church’s approach as inferior or wrong. Just think of it as being different and keep discussions on the topic of suggested changes cordial and low key.
One other way you may want to consider getting involved is in doing the actual baptism yourself. The church we attended at the time my boys were baptized commonly allowed a parent to baptize his or her own child.
I’m aware of nothing in the Bible that forbids parents baptizing their children, as long as the parent is a believer; and it’s a special opportunity for a shared experience between parent and child.
The baptism of your children is a major milestone. And it’s your opportunity at such a key point in your child’s life to fulfill your role as the primary spiritual teacher for your child. Your level of involvement depends on several things, including the preparation available through your church, and your own desire for involvement. Take a role that is active enough to help your child, through his or her baptism, have a meaningful and spiritually significant celebration of salvation.
Coming Up: In our next mini newsletter article we will cover
Child Baptism – 6 Irresistible Reasons To Include Parents in Preparation Classes.