Should my child get baptized?

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Many young parents have asked the question, “When is the best time to baptize my child?” It’s an important question, and it’s an important one for both parents and church leaders to be asking. If a child says they love and trust Jesus, we must take it at face value. We know that Jesus loves children and desires to save them (Matt. 19:14), so we should be eager to welcome kids to him and baptize them. At the same time, we don’t want kids to pursue baptism simply because their parents want them to be baptized. The church is responsible to baptize only believers, those whom God has saved and changed. So, as you, parents and church ministry leaders, consider whether or not the child in your care is ready, here are seven things to keep in mind:

1) Your first job is to clearly explain the gospel.

It’s really important that your family sits under biblically faithful, gospel-centered teaching week after week in your local church. It’s also important that you take time to clearly explain the gospel to your child as well. This may mean reading a Bible storybook to them a few times a week. But it also means having intentional times when you simply share the gospel and invite your child to respond by believing it and then obeying the Bible’s command to be baptized.

2) When you share the gospel, emphasize what Jesus has done.

Too often when sharing the gospel with children, we emphasize the ABCs: (A) Admit you are a sinner; (B) Believe in Jesus; and (C) Confess faith in him. There’s nothing wrong with this (see Romans 10:9-10) so long as we’re also clear that salvation is not about what the child does but about what Christ has done for them. If we only talk to kids about what they should do, we run the risk of confusing or discouraging them. When a child becomes aware of their sin, they may become introspective and worry, “Did I do enough? How can Jesus live in my heart when I still get so angry?” What Jesus has done for us through his cross and resurrection is the most important thing—so much more important than what we do. He saves us. We do not save ourselves. So, use a gospel presentation method that emphasizes Christ’s saving work; you might consider Billy Graham’s Steps to Peace With God or my own Are You Close to God? Then, teach kids to look away from themselves to the love and forgiveness that comes because “Christ loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

3) Don’t be intimidated, because salvation belongs to the Lord.

I know many parents feel intimidated by these kinds of conversations. “How do I help my child understand things that are still a mystery to me?” Be encouraged. While you bear some responsibility to teach your children, God is ultimately the author of their faith (Jonah 2:9; Acts 17:26). As much as we may want to speed up their commitment, Jesus ultimately is the one who calls the shots. So, when the moment comes, say a quick prayer. Lean into the Lord and ask him for help, wisdom and discernment as you share the gospel with your child. And if you’re child is taking time to process, keep on being intentional. Invest the time to pray for, study, and sit with them. Your willingness to do so will help them see that their spiritual life and growth is a priority for you.

4) Look for a change of heart

After your child has made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, look for a change in their heart. Does your child acknowledge and have a distaste for sin that was not there before their confession of faith? Is there a willingness to admit wrongs, apologize, ask for forgiveness, and forgive others when necessary? Is she showing a desire to pray and read her Bible? Does your child look forward to going to church and being with other believers? Conviction about sin, an increased desire to know God, and the practice of spiritual disciplines are all evidences of the Holy Spirit's work.

5) Work with the church to teach your kids the meaning of baptism.

When a child has begun to show an interest and desire to be baptized, dig a little deeper and ask, “Why do you want to be baptized?” Then, take that opportunity to teach them the meaning and right motivation for baptism. Baptism is a covenant sign that symbolizes our faith in Christ and our entrance into God’s family (Col. 2:11-12). Baptism is a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-11); It shows how our story is connected with Jesus’s story. Baptism is a symbol of cleansing from sin (Acts 22:16); It shows how our sins have been washed away. Baptism is an act of obedience both for the individual (Acts 2:38) and the church community (Matt. 28:18-20). So, the church and family should work together to teach kids these truths. Parents should look to the church to provide clear teaching on the gospel and baptism. They should also look to their pastors and church community for prayer and support as they seek to pass on these truths at home.

6) It’s okay if your child isn’t ready.

After teaching, don’t be discouraged if your child wants to take more time to process. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t saved or that they won’t be saved. Jesus didn’t identify his own faith as separate from his parents until the age of twelve, and he was not baptized until age thirty. Christians are saved by faith, not by baptism. Know and rely on the love that Christ has for you and for your child. And lean on your church leadership or other believers if you have questions about what to say and do next.

7) Finally, when the day comes, celebrate your child’s baptism with joy.

Once you begin planning your child’s baptism, focus on helping them celebrate it with joy. Invite friends and family to be there to celebrate this day with you. It is a day that should be cherished. And don’t forget that this day is also an opportunity to share the good news of your testimony with others. Baptism is a public expression of our faith. So, convey to your children that their baptism may be used by Jesus to save others.

Any time a child is baptized, there are varying emotions—joy, excitement, and gratitude. It’s a great privilege to teach our children about Jesus, see them come to faith, and participate in their baptism. But don’t just cherish the day of baptism; cherish the entire process.

This post first appeared at the Sojourn Network blog.

Family Friday Links 4.27.18

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Here's what we've been reading online this week as we eagerly awaited the release of Avengers: Infinity War.

Rooted Families had a post about preparing kids for spiritual warfare by introducing them to the adversary. It starts out this way, "There is a spiritual battle raging around us every day.  We cannot see it, but it is there." The better we equip our kids, the better they will be prepared for this spiritual battle they will be.

Ray Ortlund had a post on Desiring God entitled "Make it easy for your kids to love God".  He wrote, "Let them see that faith in you, and the glory of the Lord will be hard for them to resist." It's a parent's responsibility to growing in their own faith in front of their kids in order that they may see their need for God.

For the Church had a for leaders on finishing well. It reads, "... the key to finishing well for anyone, regardless if they are in ministry or not, is to fix our gaze on Christ and relentlessly pursue a vital relationship with Him." While we may never be well known, or have a huge platform; we can have an eternal impact.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section and we will check it out.

Mom, Dad... What's Sex? An excellent new book from Jessica Thompson and Joel Fitzpatrick

My generation of American church youth participated in True Love Waits rallies and purity Bible studies. Even though it wasn’t explicitly taught, we got the impression that if we kept our pants on, saved ourselves for marriage, and never kissed until the pronouncement then we’d experience marital bliss. But the trouble is sex can’t carry that much weight.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Teacher writes about his own grand search for meaning in life. He searched for significance in work, in material treasure, in aesthetic beauty, and in sexual relationships. He says, “I acquired… a harem as well – the delights of a man’s heart” (2:8). If the writer of this text was King Solomon (and I believe it was), then he’s employing quite the understatement. According to 1 Kings 11:3, he amassed seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure,” the Teacher writes (2:10a). But was this enough to satisfy his deepest longings? No, he concludes, “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (2:11).

God didn’t design sex as a way of meeting our deepest spiritual needs.

God did not design sex as a way of meeting our deepest spiritual needs. He designed sex to be an expression of a loving marital relationship (Gen. 2:24-25). And he designed the marriage relationship as a signpost that points to something more – the deep love and mystical union between Christ and his bride, the church (Eph. 5: 31-32). When a married couple experiences the joy of sexual intimacy, God intends for them to be reminded of the greater joy they’ll one day experience when they’re united to their bridegroom Christ in glory. “Even the single person who is celibate,” writes Joel Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, “is declaring with their life that they are waiting the union they will experience in the consummation of all things.”[i]

So, rather than holding out a great sex life in the future as the great hope and moral motivation for our kids, we must instead hold out Christ for them. Teach your teens that while sin gives temporary satisfaction, our great hope is found in God, whose love is better than life (Ps. 63:3). An orgasm gives pleasure for the moment, but God’s love and presence brings eternal joy. Teach your kids to look up and cling to the Savior who loved them even in the midst of their weakness and sin (Rom. 5:8).

As Thompson has written beautifully elsewhere:

Tell them that believers in him have his record of being the only sexually pure one to ever walk this earth. Teach them about the free grace of forgiveness that he extends to everyone. Teach them how much his love is better than any sexual experience they will ever have. Open their eyes to the beauty of the Lover of their soul.

One tool that may help you is the excellent new book by Jessica Thompson and Joel Fitzpatrick entitled, Mom, Dad... What's Sex? A Gospel-Centered View of Sex and Our CultureThis new book provides families with a clear vision, a winsome apologetic for the Bible's sexual ethic, and practical guidance--everything from social media to porn to same-sex attraction. But to just say that would miss the point. Joel and Jessica's goal is to celebrate Christ, who enters the hot mess of our sexual brokenness and brings redemption. Get this book and let it guide your family conversations. 

And as you remind your kids about the good news of God’s love, believe it for yourself. Show them a life lived in his love with confidence that Jesus is the only solution to our brokenness and the only pathway toward purity.

 

Family Friday Links 4.20.18

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Daniel Im the Founder of NewChurches.com and the Director of Church Multiplication for LifeWay Christian Resources he is also the Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. Daniel wrote a blog entitled Trends of Kids Ministry. Daniel writes, "Kids ministry is really hard work. You have to build and train an army of volunteers that serve faithfully. Although kids ministers get into kids ministry because they love kids, the reality is that they work with adults more than they work with kids. This means reaching both parents and volunteers. In order to do this effectively, pastors need to partner with kids ministers to capture the parents and help them realize the need to disciple their children at home. Kids ministers need the whole church to rally behind the idea."

Ligon Duncan at Together for the Gospel conference last week had a fantastic sermon about The Whole in Our Holiness. He ties in our need for holiness and our following the commandment of loving our neighbor. Ligon says, "If we would have just obeyed the commandment to love our neighbor, racial tensions would be in a very different place." I recommend you check out this sermon as we raise the next generation to love all people. Ligon also shared a few resources at his blog for youth ministry. Check out those Youth Ministry Resources.

J. D. Greer is the lead pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and he wrote for the Gospel Coalition last month a post about What Your Kids Need From You. J. D. wrote, " Love is not enough. The Bible teaches us that our kids have more than a behavior problem; they have a heart problem. They are spiritually dead. And no amount of our love can change that."  One of the most helpful pieces of parenting advice I ever received was this: Be their dad, not their pastor. The pastor is always busy telling them what is wrong with them; a dad is just excited about who they are. You can’t force the affections of their heart to grow. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, and he does it in the security of unconditional love. If you focus on your kids’ hearts and not their behavior, it’s going to change everything—including how you discipline, how you pray, and how you celebrate success."

What are you reading? Leave your links in the comments below!