I can’t remember the first believer’s baptism I witnessed. I grew up in the ministry and saw numerous people submerged in a traditional baptistery by the pastor and when I was ready to make my profession of faith, I knew exactly what to expect.
Fast forward twenty-something years and my own children, until recently, had never seen an indoor baptism conducted in a baptistery. Because we have always been involved in church plants and mobile churches, they had only seen outdoor baptisms in pools, rivers and lakes. I had to have many intentional conversations about how we were not going swimming, but celebrating someone who had decided to make Jesus their Savior.
Now that we are back in a traditional church building, I’ve had to explain that many people are baptized this way and my son is not so sure about it as he is preparing for his own baptism in a baptistery – not Lake Austin!
This leads me to recognize the fact that children have lots of questions about baptism and need to understand it – even before they make their own decisions to follow Christ. Just like participating in The Lord’s Supper (see my post Kids and Communion), kids need a reference point for what these ordinances are and why believers do them.
If kids are in a separate worship service just for children, they may never get to witness a baptism before they themselves are ready. How can the church equip families to teach their children about baptism? Try using the 5 W’s as a starting point:
• Who can be baptized? Anyone who has decided to make Jesus the Lord of their life and are ready to make a profession of faith.
• What is baptism? The external display of an internal heart-change. It is not a means of salvation, but a response.
• When can someone be baptized? When they have made preparations with their pastor and church.
• Where can someone be baptized? Sometimes people are baptized inside in a baptistery, while others may be baptized in other bodies of water like a river, lake or pool. Anywhere they can be completely submerged and brought up again.
• Why should someone be baptized? It is an act of obedience to God and a way to show others that Jesus has changed their life.
• How do you get baptized? A pastor, and sometimes family member help submerge you under water and bring you up again (you get to hold your nose!) This shows how we have been buried and resurrected with Christ.
Jana Magruder serves as the Director of Kids Ministry Publishing. Jana brings a wealth of experience and passion for kids ministry, education, and curriculum writing. She and her husband, Michael, along with their three children attend Forest Hills Baptist Church where she teaches The Gospel Project to preteen girls.
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