Kids and baptism often spells confusion, and it requires careful explanation. I recently had the distinct honor of baptizing my niece. This baptism was also noteworthy because it was the first baptism I had ever performed. I wanted to make sure that my niece understood baptism well, so as I prepared, I took the opportunity to brush up on some “baptism basics.”
What does baptism mean and why do we do it?
Baptism is a way for Christians to visually and publicly tell others that Christ has done something miraculous in their lives. When a Christian is baptized, he or she is publicly identifying with Christ (with his death, burial, resurrection, and Lordship). Baptism also identifies Christians with a local church or body of believers, and it typically leads to church membership. In the New Testament, baptism occurs after a profession of faith (i.e., it is for believers only). It is a command and expectation, but baptism in and of itself in no way saves or completes a person’s salvation. Baptism is a symbol only.
Who can perform baptisms?
Baptism is typically performed by a pastor, but there is actually no biblical reason for limiting it to pastors only. In fact, with the approval of church leadership, any mature Christian is eligible to perform the ordinance of baptism.
How do you make baptism significant for kids and help them understand what it’s all about?
The key to helping a kid understand baptism is simple – take the necessary time to explain baptism clearly. While Scripture teaches that baptism should occur after conversion, there is no biblical requirement that it must take place immediately. The amount of time that it takes to ensure understanding will vary from kid to kid (1 day . . . or 1 year). Don’t rush it! Also, allowing a kid’s dad, mom, grandparent, relative, or family friend to perform the baptism is another great way to make the event special and memorable.
Two weeks before I baptized my niece, she served as the flower girl in my wedding! When I was preparing to baptize her, we talked together about how baptism is similar to a wedding band. Both are symbols of something special that has happened in someone’s life.
My prayer is that my niece will be the first of many children and adults that I have the privilege or baptizing in the future!
Henry Dutton received a MA in Christian Studies and a BA in English, both from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. He began working for CentriKid in 2008 and served on the office team from 2012-2015.