Baptism is an incredible moment for your family! As a parent, there’s joy in seeing your child publicly proclaim they believe in and follow Jesus, and your child is excited to celebrate this step with friends and family.
However, baptism can also be confusing for kids and parents, as it forces us to wrestle with complicated spiritual questions. You may have heard your child ask questions similar to this:
“Why should I get baptized?”
“How do I know I’m ready to be baptized?”
“What does baptism really mean and what does it do for me?”
So, to help you walk through these questions with your child, here is what we believe about baptism along with a few practical questions to help you decide if baptism is your child’s next step.
What is Baptism?
To put it simply, baptism is something we do to tell others what we believe internally. It’s how we communicate with others – “I have decided to believe in and follow Jesus!”
It’s like a wedding ring. The ring isn’t what makes a couple married, but it tells everyone they meet that they are. In the same way, baptism is how a person tells the world they believe in and follow Jesus.
What is Baptism Not?
Just like a wedding ring, it isn’t what makes a couple married, baptism isn’t salvation. Just because we’ve been baptized doesn’t mean we have eternal life with God. That only happens through our decision to believe in and follow Jesus.
It is critically important that your child understands this difference because it’s easy for them to confuse the two. When they see or hear of friends and family getting baptized, they will naturally want to as well. However, baptism is a defining moment in your child’s faith, and the last thing we want is for them to think that because they have been baptized, they have been made right with God.
Baptizing a child before they understand the significance of the event and the meaning behind it can give them a false understanding of their relationship with God and a warped view of who God is. Therefore, if your child has not made the decision to believe in and follow Jesus, they should not get baptized.
Your Perfect Opportunity
When baptism comes up in conversation at home, through a baptism worship gathering, etc., it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about the Gospel – Jesus’ life, death and resurrection – and what it means to believe in and follow Jesus. The questions they will inevitably ask, open the door for you to clearly walk with them through the Gospel. Be bold and lead your child to truth during this time! There is no better moment.
What is the Gospel?
If you’re having a difficult time explaining the Gospel during these conversations, here are the basic components:
• Sin – We are separated from God because of our sin (choices, habits, etc.).
• Jesus – Jesus was God’s rescue plan; to save us from our sin through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
• Belief – We decide to believe in Jesus and follow His instructions on how to live.
• Hope – Because of Jesus, we have hope for our future.
So…how do I know if my child is ready for baptism?
When your child expresses curiosity about baptism, here are some key questions to ask:
Why do you want to get baptized?
If the answer is someone “did it last time” or they “just want to,” you need to keep digging. Those answers don’t express an understanding of what baptism means. This doesn’t mean they aren’t ready, but they need to be able to answer this question clearly.
Side note: baptism should be their decision, not yours. Don’t pressure your child into baptism. If they’ve made the decision to believe in Jesus, explain and teach them the significance of baptism, but baptism should be their desire, not yours.
Ask them to tell you what they know about Jesus; Who is He? What did He do?
Look for your child to have an age-appropriate understanding of the basic elements of the gospel as discussed above. The big items to look for are an understanding of their sin and how Jesus rescued them through the cross and resurrection, and a willingness to follow Jesus’ instructions.
As the parent, what fruit have you seen from their life since their decision?
I’ll say something that may offend you: your child isn’t perfect. I know because I have two of my own! Sin is a reality for every person on Earth. You may have a good child, but you do not have a perfect child. They are separated from God because of their sin just like you and me.
I say this because it’s important that you’re able to identify a change in your child since they decided to believe in and follow Jesus. A changed life is the evidence of our belief – God’s Spirit within us causes us to change and live differently. This looks different for kids, but it’s still true. If your child doesn’t demonstrate a changed life, then it’s a sign that they aren’t ready for baptism. Don’t let the fact that they’re your child and that they love you blind you from their lack of salvation. There’s too much at stake.
If your child has made the decision to believe in and follow Jesus and understands his or her sin and their need for salvation through Jesus, their next step is baptism. Fill out this interest form to let us know.
We want to equip you to walk through this exciting time with your child. We want to celebrate your child’s baptism, but we want to do it with wisdom and clarity when they’re ready. If you have more questions, you can read our church’s beliefs on salvation, baptism, and more here, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.