"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." - Proverbs 22:6
Child dedication is a public commitment you make before God, your church, and your family. The dedication service provides the parent(s) an opportunity to publicly express your desire to lead and spiritually nurture your child in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, so your child will develop a desire to love God and love others. Christian parents who dedicate a child are making a promise to the Lord to do everything within their power to raise the child in a godly way, prayerfully until he or she can make a decision on his or her own to follow God.
Parents who make this vow of commitment are instructed to raise the child in the ways of God, and not according to their own ways. Some of the responsibilities include:
- Teaching and training the child in God’s Word
- Demonstrating an example of godliness
- Disciplining according to God’s ways
- Praying earnestly for the child
Here are some frequently asked questions about child dedication:
What is the biblical purpose and history of a child dedication?
The scriptural root of a child dedication is found in 1 Samuel 1:27–28, where a godly woman named Hannah prayed year after year for God to give her a child. God answered her prayer and she gave birth to a son named Samuel. When Samuel was born, Hannah prayed these words:
"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord."
In Luke 2:22-38, following the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to the temple and dedicated Him.
In both passages, the parents entrusted their child completely to God.
Moses describes God's plan for how a parent should raise up a child in Deuteronomy 6:5–9:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
Do I need to be a member of Horizons in order to have my child dedicated?
No, membership is not a prerequisite for child dedication at Horizons. However, we do encourage parents to make sure they are calling Horizons their home church. In dedicating your child to God, you are stating that you are willing to partner with both God and the local church to raise your child in cooperation with God’s intentions. In order to partner with any church, a parent is wise to decide if he or she agrees with its beliefs and vision, in order to be fully committed in their partnership with the church, and to model that commitment to their child.
However, should you ever decide to become a member at Horizons, it would also serve as a terrific demonstration of commitment to display for your child. If you're interested in membership, you can take our online membership class.
Here is what we ask of parents in order to have your child dedicated at Horizons:
- We ask parents to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- We ask parents to be sure their beliefs line up with Horizons' Statement of Faith.
- We ask parents to be regular attenders of Horizons weekend services.
- We ask parents who are unmarried and living together to take steps to acknowledge and surrender to God’s plan for their relationship before participating in a child dedication service. You can contact Pastor Duane Adams, or your campus pastor, for help with this.
What can I expect during a child dedication ceremony?
During the dedication service, parents express vows before God, their family, and the church, declaring their desire to raise their child in a God-honoring way. In addition, the pastor conducting the ceremony will anoint your child's forehead with oil and invite the congregation to join in prayer for you and your child.
Because parents are the key role models for their children, they play a primary role in the dedication service. Parents will be asked to affirm the following commitments:
- Do you receive this child with gratitude, as God’s gift to you and your family?
- Do you commit to each other as parents, creating a stable environment in which your child can mature? Will you make a covenant to strengthen your marriage relationship?
- Do you commit to be parents of personal faith, recognizing your children are more likely to follow God’s path by the model they first observe in you?
- Do you commit to lead a faith-filled home that honors God in all your relationships and in the choices you make in spiritually growing your family?
- Do you commit to be parents with patience, recognizing that with your inherent strengths and weaknesses, your desire to shape your child is a loving act that will require time, prayer, and God in order to produce in your children what He and you hope for?
If you have registered to participate in a scheduled child dedication service, you will be contacted prior to the service to confirm which campus/service time you will be attending, as well as information on what to expect.
What's the difference between child dedication and infant baptism?
To be absolutely, unequivocally clear: Horizons does not baptize infants, or believe in the practice of infant baptism as a valid act of baptism. Scripture provides evidence that Baptism follows an individual’s decision to trust Christ alone for salvation (Acts 2:41, 8:12, and 10:47–48). The New Testament records the baptisms of adult believers only.
In the Bible, we find parents bringing their children to Jesus. He held them, prayed for them, and told us to welcome them. But He did not baptize them and He did not tell anyone else to baptize them. Horizons believes that baptism is only for those who have made a personal decision to trust Christ alone for their salvation, once they have the maturity and ability to understand its meaning. As a general rule, Horizons has determined that a believer must be at least 8 years old to be baptized in our church. If you would like a more comprehensive understanding of Horizons' position on scriptural baptism, and/or if you would like to be baptized yourself, you can take our online baptism class.
Dedication is not a sacrament, nor does it impart grace or salvation to a child. Salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ as each person recognizes their sinfulness and receives forgiveness and eternal life through Christ and His work on the cross.
Rather than baptizing infants or children, Horizons encourages Christian parents to dedicate their children. This is a ceremony in which parents formally call upon God’s blessing for their child and publicly commit to raise him or her in accordance with Scripture. It is an outward declaration of the parent's commitment, not the child's faith.
At what age can a child take part in a dedication service?
While Horizons does not have a set age requirement for child dedication, the average age for a child to be dedicated is birth to one year old, although many parents dedicate children older than that, often for the following reasons:
- The parent(s) are new believers in Christ and their children were not dedicated when they were infants.
- The parent(s) are having a younger child dedicated and want to have their older child dedicated at the same time.
Can a single parent participate in a child dedication service?
Yes! Child dedication signifies the commitment of parents (including single parents) to do their best to raise their child to be a follower of Christ. Additionally, we highly encourage single parents to dedicate their child as they commit themselves to raise him or her without the presence or partnership of a spouse. The decision to dedicate a child is not dependent upon the beliefs of the ex-spouse; however we encourage single parents to discuss child dedication with their ex-spouse. Ideally, both parents—even if not married—would still commit to the dedication of their child to God. We acknowledge that this is often not possible, and that it takes extra effort for a single parent to raise a child. As a church, Horizons is committed to supporting single parents in providing a Christian foundation for their child’s upbringing.
Can parent(s) assign godparents?
The term “godparent” is not used at Horizons. However, we do welcome parents to invite friends and family members committed to supporting them to stand with them during the dedication. The presence of these significant adults symbolizes their commitment to play a supportive role in the child’s spiritual development.
You can contact Pastor Duane Adams if you have any additional questions.
You can register your child for dedication by completing the form below: