WHY WE DEDICATE CHILDREN:
Dedicating your family is an acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and love. Parents present their child before God and His people believing He knows best and has their best interest in mind. Dedication is a time when parents ask for grace and wisdom in carrying out their responsibilities while praying that their child might one day personally put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Before the actual dedication ceremony, it is crucial that parents understand the meaning of dedication. One of the best scripture passages for this purpose is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-7:
Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
First, notice that this passage commands parents to love God. If you truly wish for your child to learn to love and follow God, then your lives must be an example.
Second, this passage also makes it clear that the duty of teaching children belongs to parents. The church can provide weekly instruction, but parents must seize the teachable moments that arise throughout life. Teach your children how to pray. Teach them to pray at meal times and before going to bed. Encourage them to read Bible stories aloud for devotions, or if they are not old enough to read, be the parent that reads the stories to them.
Another passage of Scripture is found in Mark 10:13-16:
One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’ Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.”
When we dedicate our family, it is a way to bring our children to Jesus for His blessing. We bring them to Him, recognizing that they are His and He has given them to us for a time. As Christians, we understand that all we have has been given to us from God. One day we will answer to Him for how we have managed what He has entrusted to our care, including our children. When we dedicate our family, we are acknowledging Jesus’ Lordship over our household.
Lastly, by dedicating your family before the Lord and the church, you are making a vow to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:4:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
Because of its significance, parents considering taking the step of formally dedicating their family need to consider the importance of the commitment. It’s a serious time because God expects us to fulfill the vows we make before Him. Dedicating your family is more than a religious tradition - it is a sober submission of the parents to follow Jesus in the raising of their child. The vow, made to the Lord, is witnessed before the church, much like a wedding. It is the church’s duty to pray for and hold the parents accountable to their vow in the months and years to come.
WHAT DEDICATION IS NOT:
Dedicating your family does not make the children Christians. That is a decision each child will have to make for themselves at a point of understanding that is unique to each individual. A dedication service does not replace water baptism. Water baptism is a step of obedience that believers take when they can clearly testify of the saving work of Jesus in their own lives.
A FINAL WORD TO PARENTS:
In Hebrews 13:4, the Word of God says, “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” The Bible makes it clear that living together without being married is not His design. It is a sin because it ultimately hurts families and confuses children. Before dedicating your family, we ask that you stop living together as you pursue marriage.
Also, it’s not uncommon for a mother or father to be married to someone who does not share their commitment to the Lordship of Christ. Since the dedication of children is a solemn vow to God to raise them in the nurture and knowledge of Christ, this places a burden on the unbeliever they may not be comfortable with. For that reason, we ask the non-follower of Jesus to consider seriously what you are doing. What do you believe about God? Why are you wanting to dedicate your child? It may be that you are uncomfortable making such a vow. If so, and your mate desires to proceed, you might decide to let them go ahead with the dedication while you do not join them in the ceremony.
Finally, we recognize that many single parents may want to dedicate their family. If the parent attends Refuge Church and adheres to the biblical standards laid out above, we happily extend the invitation to dedicate their household.
Deuteronomy 6: 5-7, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 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.
I will pursue a love relationship with Jesus and strive to grow spiritually all my days.
I will model the purpose driven life of a disciple maker.
I will seek the forgiveness of my child and others when I sin or hurt them accidentally.
I will teach my child to live by God’s truth, not their faulty feelings or corrupt culture.
I will encourage my child to discover and serve with their spiritual gifts and God-given talents.
I will pray that my child and their future spouse trust in Jesus at the earliest possible age.
I will remind my child to hold loosely to this world and to live with eternity in mind.