Tuesday, June 09, 2009

DIY: children's baptisms

One of the best ways to get children thinking about baptism is to baptize another child -- in fact, every time I do this, I'll have another child come up afterward and ask if they can get baptized.

Three suggestions:

Make it special. One of my seminary professors once asked us to imagine what graduation ceremonies would be like if we conducted them the same way we do baptisms, i.e. a curtain would open, you'd see the graduates, you'd hand them their diplomas, and the curtain would close. "Special events," he'd conclude, "should be treated as though they are special." In our church, that means baptisms take place Sabbath afternoons at a nearby lake, with a song service (and maybe a potluck too.)

Make it clear what they're getting into. I use the simplified baptismal vows in Steve Case's baptismal guide -- and on the day of the baptism, I ask the child to bring with them a 3x5 card on which they've written the answer to question, "I want to get baptized because . . . " (And yes, I will read this card out loud to the audience just before the baptism.

Make it a lasting memory. After the baptism, my wife takes the 3x5 card I've just mentioned (as well as the signed copy of baptismal vows and any photos we have of the baptism), and she then "scrapbooks" it into the Bible we used in our baptismal class. Not only does this make a nice gift, "but in years to come," I tell the child, "you can look at this and remember why you chose to get baptized."

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