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So you want to get your child baptised but you don’t go to church? Or maybe you do occasionally attend but aren’t a member of the church? I’ve been in a similar situation. It may take a little longer but it’s absolutely doable.
Most churches will welcome a request to baptise your child even if you are not a church member or do not regularly attend church. There may be a few extra steps, like meeting with the pastor or attending a class. Churches want to baptise, but want to make sure it is being done for the right reason.
The reason that you want to have your child baptised is very important. Let’s look at some of the reasons people might have for wanting to get their child baptised.
What Is Your Main Reason For Wanting to Baptise Your Child?
There may be a few reasons that you wish to have your child baptised and that’s ok, but only one is really important to the church. Some of the reason are:
Maybe it’s expected from extended family that you will have your child baptised. It’s probable that you were baptised as a child and maybe your parents were baptised as a child too. It’s the done thing to do. Or maybe you’re getting questioned and pressured about it. I think this is quite a common reason, but hopefully not the only reason
Belief that baptism alone will save your child
Or maybe you believe that all you need to do to get into heaven is get baptised and then heaven is a done deal. You can tick that one off the list.
Maybe you’re not sure if heaven is really real, or if what the bible says is actually true. But maybe it is real and so you hedge your bets and want to get your child baptised just in case.
You want to get your child into a christian school
Christian schools often offer high quality education and most parents will want to get their child into the best school possible (that they can afford). This often means that there is more demand than available places at christian schools.
The criteria the school uses for selecting students may include if the child is baptised or not. The school wants to have children and families attending the school that have the same beliefs and values as the school does. This makes sense. I believe there are quite a few Catholic schools that use baptism as a selection criteria. However, this means more people will want to get their child baptised with the sole purpose of guaranteeing a good education.
My children attend a Lutheran school and baptism wasn’t a selection criteria, but church membership was.
You believe in Jesus and want to raise your child to believe in Jesus
You believe that Jesus is who he says he is – God’s son. You believe the things that Jesus said and did as recorded in the bible. As a result of this belief you want to know Jesus more and you also want your child to know him. You want your child to know how special God has made them and how much he loves them.
One reason for baptism is given by Jesus: Belief in Him.
“Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mark 16:16
Now, as a baby can’t believe when they are so young the parents believe on the child’s behalf and they promise to help their child to know God in the hope that when the child is older they may believe too.
If this last reason is your honest reason for wanting to baptise your child then I can’t imagine any church that would refuse you (unless they don’t practice infant baptism ie. Baptist church, in this case they may offer baby dedication instead).
Baptism is something we often only think about when it comes time to baptising our children (I know that was the case with me), so here’s a refresher I’ve written on what baptism is, what it means and what happens during baptism.
Views from the Church/Pastor
The church wants to baptise people. They want to welcome people into God’s family. That’s one of the main reasons they exist.
But sometimes the church/pastor is put in a difficult position when asked to baptise someone they don’t know. They don’t know the reason that you want to baptise your child. Churches want to baptise for the right reasons – belief in Jesus. So the pastor really needs to determine your motive to do his job well, hopefully without offending anyone.
Jesus also makes it clear that people are to be trained in his way of life and marked with baptism. Then to continue instructing them in practising all he has commanded:
“God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Churches are answerable to God (as we all are) and they need to follow God’s instructions.
For me personally, meeting with the pastor before my first child’s baptism made me realise the importance and commitment I was making in having my child baptised.
If you’re wondering what is the best age to baptise your baby, I’ve written an article looking at what’s written in the bible and given personal reasons for why I baptised my children when they were about 2.5 months old.
What’s The Process In Organising A Baptism?
If you don’t have a regular church you attend there are a few extra steps to be taken when organising a baptism for your child:
- Choose a church – is there a church you have attended that you liked? If not, maybe google and see what’s in your area and check out their webpage to get a feel for what they do and how formal/casual their services are. Note: some churches don’t do infant/child baptisms like Baptist churches, so keep this in mind when selecting a church.
- Attend the church – it’s a good idea to go and check out the church first. It will make it easier for you to decide which one you feel comfortable with. And give you a chance to meet the pastor.
- Contact the church about baptism – you might like to ring or email the church or talk directly to the pastor when at church. The church’s website will have their contact details and may also have a bit of info on baptisms.
- Home Visit from Pastor – Some churches do this but maybe not all of them. We had a home visit from a Lutheran pastor and it was a casual chat over coffee – about babies, baptism, what hopes we have for our child and he also asked about our faith. This helped me understand the big responsibility we had in raising our child to know God. At that point in time I was still pretty sleep deprived and my life revolved around feeding times and changing nappies. So it was good to step back and see the big picture.
- Possibly attend a baptism class – some churches have baptism classes that you need to attend before having your child baptised. These weren’t offered where our children were baptised so I don’t know too much about them.
- Choose Godparents – this can be kinda hard if you don’t attend church. Often aunties and uncles are chosen in this case as you know they will always be part of the child’s life, as we did. If you have someone in mind to be godparent that has a different religion/denomination check out the article I wrote looking at what is expected by different denominations. The best choice is someone who has a firm belief in Jesus who can share this belief with your child.
- Work out details of the baptism day – There will be some forms to fill out etc. Some churches have certain Sundays that they perform baptisms, like the first Sunday of every month. Others will give you a few options of available Sundays that would work for them. Then it’s just a matter of working out a day that suits your godparents and yourself.
If after all this you’ve decided that you’d rather wait to baptise your child some churches offer a small thanksgiving service or similar for your child instead. Again, it depends on the church.
Do I Need To Attend Church After The Baptism?
The church will definitely want you to keep coming back after your child is baptised. The other members of the church would love to see you back too. The church wants to see you successful in keeping the promises you made at your child’s baptism and wants to help.
Many people find having a faith community around them helpful in raising their child to know Jesus.
The church often views your child as a member of the church if they have been baptised there.
In saying this it may be possible to raise your child to know God outside the church if you have a solid faith. However, there are so many things pulling for our attention in this world so you’ll need to stay focused and constantly remind yourself of God’s promises.
The best and only real way I see this working is if you make bible reading a priority – ask God questions about it as you go and ask him to help you understand it. I love The Message bible, it’s written like a novel (a really, really long one) but it’s written in everyday language which make it really easy to understand.
It makes it much easier to talk with your child about God and answer their questions if you have spent time digging into the bible yourself.
Even better, combine the two – bible reading at home and church!!!