“Come on honey, you know the answer. Just like we talked about in the car,” pleaded the overly anxious mother when her child was asked to explain why she wanted to be baptized.
“Because my mom told me to do it,” the child finally conceded.
The awkwardness was thick for everyone in the room, and the red faced mother tried her best to back pedal, save face, and everything short of running away. But not just that day. Lots of days at our church when a parent has tried to force baptism upon their child and we asked a few simple questions to gauge the child’s readiness for this spiritual step.
The motives are always pure. A parent wants so badly for their child to grow spiritually and know Jesus. But most of the time these parents equate information for transformation. In other words, “If my child knows the right answers, it’ll mean they know Jesus and I don’t have to worry anymore.”
But as one pastor I read said so well, this isn’t a quiz and it’s not an intellectual decision. It is a spiritual one!
So how do you know your child is ready for baptism?
- They understand sin. Your child realizes the difference between right and wrong, and that “wrong” not only hurts someone on earth but most importantly it hurts God. They understand sin is anything that goes against what God says is right.
- They understand Jesus. Because they understand sin is really against God, they realize their need for being forgiven by God. They understand that Jesus died to pay for sin and came back to life to defeat sin and its punishment – death. Jesus forgives, making it possible to live with him forever in heaven.
- They understand baptism. Baptism doesn’t save us. It is a symbol showing we have been saved. Like a wedding ring doesn’t make someone married but instead shows they’ve already been married, baptism is a symbol to the world that I am going public with my decision to follow Jesus.
- They decide for themselves. Following Jesus and then going public with that faith in Jesus through baptism must be a decision each person makes on their own, regardless of age. Parents – we can’t decide for our kids that they need to follow Jesus or get baptized! Baptism is mentioned 27 times in the New Testament, and each time it was after a person decided on their own to follow Jesus!
- They understand this is only the beginning. Following Jesus and getting baptized is only the beginning of a journey. As a child matures, there will be more control to surrender to Jesus as they “work out their salvation,” as the Bible calls it. Don’t allow your child to think this is a “check box” and now they can do what they want or control what they want! Jesus wants us to daily “take up our cross and follow Him.”
If you think your child may be ready to have these conversations, is asking lots of spiritual questions, or even wants to get baptized, we want to help! We want you to come to “Start Here” this Sunday at 12:45pm at your campus where we will give you the tools to have these conversations at home. This is also the first step of baptism for children at OneLife. Click here to sign up!
Maybe you read this blog as an adult and realize you were baptized before you understood these things, before you truly knew Jesus, or you’ve never been baptized at all. We also want to help you take this next step! Click here to fill out this form to start the process of adult baptism at OneLife!