Baptism of Children
SHOULD MY CHILD BE BAPTIZED?
In God’s good design, he has given children a trust and dependence to appreciate and be drawn toward many the same things as their parents, e.g., sports teams, movies, and music. While it’s true, that a childlike faith (which is commendable by our Lord) can often be imitative of their parents or culture, children and young adults can be genuinely and independently converted. In fact, based on many testimonies from our members, it seems likely that this childlike faith as a young child was indeed saving faith in Christ’s finished work.
If a person does have saving faith in Christ, a miracle has happened! This means that person has been brought from death to life and is now a priest in the Kingdom of God. (John 3:6-7; 1 Peter 2:9), and when an individual responds to the gospel in repentance and faith, the Bible is clear the next step ought to be baptism (Acts 2:38).
As kingdom priests, baptism candidates at Christ Church first take our membership class—baptized Christians ought to be a member of a local church. When a child approaches a pastor on his or her own initiative to express the desire to be baptized, this is a wonderful, initial indicator of independent and genuine faith. A pastor will meet with the child to hear of their testimony and of their desire to be baptized. Contrary to the baptisms we see in the New Testament which were public declarations carrying significant social and religious costs, modern American baptism can often require very little counting of the costs of following Jesus—in fact, depending on family and social contexts, it can often be costly to not be baptized. The interview and subsequent membership class process is intended to help clarify motives as well as costs to the individual and to the church.
While it may be more difficult than with adults, childhood conversions can be actually discernable. The parents, pastors, and congregation should be examining for an independent understanding and faith in the gospel accompanied with clear and sustained evidence of fruitful transformation (Gal. 5:16-26). Despite the reality that many children are baptized and later renounce their faith in Christ, this is unfortunately the reality for any other age group as well. Irrespective of age then, every person who gives discernable evidence of true conversion should obey Jesus’ command to be baptized.
Because all members are Kingdom priests who wield the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 18:18), there is no biblical category for junior or pseudo-members (Christians). Therefore, children members voice their congregational affirmations and reservations in both new member and discipline cases. And if through the process of church discipline (Matthew 18:15-20), a childhood profession and baptism proves to be spurious, this person should be removed from membership and no longer invited to the Lord’s Table. As the baptism of the child was approved by the congregation and made public in its affirmation, so should his or her discipline be publicly affirmed as well.
While this could appear over-stepping the authority of parents, this process should 1) be considered by parents as they help their child consider baptism and its implications, and 2) comfort parents that their church will care for, pursue, and speak clearly to their child in the same way they would expect the church to do for them.
If your child desires to be baptized, please read through the process of next steps.