Child Dedication: A Biblical Command for Christian Parents
Even though the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada does not practice the ordinance of infant baptism, it does firmly believe in the practice of child dedication. The practice of dedicating one’s child to God is commonly found in the Bible. [a] The act of dedicating a child to God is a parent’s [b] declaration to the church body his / her commitment to disciple the child, so by the grace of God, the child can become a fully-devoted follower of Jesus Christ. [c] The church’s responsibility is to foster a community environment in which to assist the parent(s) in discipling the child. This document provides guidelines for parents who wish to dedicate their child to God.
Criteria and Requirement for Parents
With so much at stake, child dedication is a decision not to be taken lightly by a parent or the church. The criteria and requirement for child dedication are designed to ensure the dedicating parent(s) is a disciple of Christ who is willing to continue to grow in Christ in order to disciple his / her dedicated child. Therefore, before a parent can apply for child dedication, he/she must fulfill the following criteria:
1. Disciple of Jesus Christ
The parent who wishes to dedicate his / her child to God must be a born-again disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is defined as a Christian who is accountable to the church community (see #2 below) in living out the Christ-life in all aspect of his / her life, who is actively and intentionally calling others (e.g. the dedicated child) to imitate him/her as he/she imitates Christ.[d]
If only one of the parents is a Christian, he/she may still dedicate the child provided the unbelieving parent has given consent.[e]
2. Regular Attendee
One cannot be a true disciple of Jesus Christ without being part of, and accountable to, the church body.[f] Therefore the parent who dedicates the child must be a regular attendee of Jaffray church for a minimum of one year before applying for child dedication. These can include but not limited to: worship services; Sunday School; ministry involvements; and fellowship.
3. Ministry Service with Young Life Ministry
The parent who dedicates the child needs to serve in some capacity in the Young Life Ministry to ensure he/she is involved with the communal discipleship aspect of the dedicated child. Serving in the YLM could include any of the following: Greeter, Hall Monitor, Teacher, Assistant Teacher, or general helper. Service frequency and length of service can be mutually agreed upon with the Young Life Ministry Committee or its designate (e.g. YLM Pastor). The criteria and requirements for serving in the Young Life Ministry can be found here.
4. Parent-Teacher Training Meetings
Parents are strongly encouraged to attend the three annual 2-hour parent-teacher training meetings (usually Saturdays). The purpose of these meetings are threefold:
a. Learn theology and Christian theories on discipling children
b. Share the joys and concerns of the current state of parenting and Young Life Ministry
c. Plan upcoming classes (Optional for the parent)
5. Home Visit by Church Leaders
After the application has been submitted, the parent(s) will be interviewed by YLMC-designated church leaders (e.g. elders, deacons, pastors) via a home visit. The intention of the visit is to get to know the family.
Child Dedication Sundays
Once approved by the YLMC, the child dedication will be held at any of the church joint services.
The parent(s) and child will be invited on stage, where the following commitments will be asked of them:
- Do you now freely accept the charge of caring for your child, both physically and spiritually, in tenderness and with understanding, and to bring this child up in the nurture & admonition of the Lord?
- Do you covenant with God to provide a home for this child, where Christ is always welcome and exalted? Do you covenant also to attend God’s House frequently and with a gracious spirit, so that your child will learn to love this place and all of God’s people? Do you covenant before God to read and practice God’s Word so that this child will learn to love the Scriptures and practice its precepts?
The parent(s) will be asked to share prayer requests for the child with the congregation.
The congregation will then be asked to commit to the following:
- Do you covenant before God to always provide a place of teaching and worship that exalts Jesus Christ and magnifies God’s Word, so that these children will be encouraged to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ?
- Do you covenant to walk worthily before the Lord by His grace so you will not cause these little ones to stumble?
- In good times or bad times, during time at church or at home, do you covenant to live out the Word of God and guide them to follow Jesus Christ, our Lord?
The officiating pastor will conclude the dedication by praying for the child and parents.
[a] 1 Sa. 1:11; Lk. 2:22
[b] A parent may also be the legal guardian / caregiver of the child. In this document they will be collectively referred to as “parent”.
[c] Dt. 6:4-9, 20-25; Ps. 78:4-7; Pr. 22.6; Mt. 28:19
[d] 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1.
[e] Please refer to 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 for the Apostle Paul’s pastoral advice with regards to a believer-unbeliever marriage.
[f] 1 Corinthians 12