Parent/Child Dedication is a time of public and personal commitment where parents covenant to raise their kids with godly principles. The orientation and ceremony are designed to encourage and challenge parents to be active participants in their kids' lives. We believe that the spiritual climate you create at home is more significant than what we do here at church, because of the influence parents have in the lives of their kids.
Child Dedication is a time of public and personal commitment where parents covenant to raise their children with godly principles. Through this unique, but simple presentation, you announce before God, your friends, and your family that you are willing to take on the solemn responsibility of orienting your child towards a relationship with God.
By participating in Parent/Child Dedication, you thankfully receive your child as a gift from God and:
- Covenant to model personal faith - A child's most valuable illustration of personal faith is by catching you living it out. Will you teach them, through your actions, what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ?
- Covenant to a growing marriage (if married) - Committing time and money to your marriage provides stability and security for your kids, an essential component for their growth and maturity.
- Covenant to experience community - Will you "grow up" alongside others? Will you keep a pulse on the relationships your kids have?
- Covenant to be families of service - How are you modeling serving others for your kids? Are they learning to be relationally rich by being self-sacrificial?
- Covenant to wise decision making - Ultimately, God wants our hearts. How are you modeling the use of your time, talents, and treasures?
Parent/Child Dedication is not a sacrament, nor is it a declaration of a child's faith. Rather, it is a parent's public declaration of their choice to raise their kids with a biblical worldview. Some churches offer baptism for infants. At Horizons, we don't baptize infants because every baptism recorded in the Bible occurred when someone was old enough to make a faith decision.
Similar to Horizons' beliefs about baptism, dedication is simply a public declaration of an internal decision-in this case, the decision is made by the parents to raise a child in a way that will guide him or her into a relationship with God. Dedication does not impart grace or salvation. The Bible is clear that we are saved by God's grace, not by dedication, baptism, or our own works. Dedication and baptism are not salvation; Christ's blood on the cross is really what washes away sins and pays our debt.
Infant baptism became popular about 400 years after the birth of the Christian church, when Augustine developed the theology of "original sin." In a nutshell, this idea means that when kids are born, they are not only sinners, but God holds them accountable for their sins. So if an infant died, Augustine believed that God would hold that child separate from the Lord for all of eternity unless the child was saved (through the sacrament of Holy Baptism). Given that the infant mortality rate was high in those days, the practice of infant baptism caught on fast. Horizons' holds to implied Bible teaching that there's an age of understanding when people are mature enough to grasp a faith decision for themselves. Only God truly knows that age and it may differ for each child. If kids happen to pass before that time, we believe they're going to heaven.
We believe that children belong first and foremost to God. A parent's awesome responsibility is to act as spiritual leaders for their kids. Parents should be committed to their marriage, to growth, and to parenting. "Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him." Psalm 127:3 Therefore, it is critical that a child be raised in such a way that they too will have the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Gowns are often family heirlooms with a significant history in the extended family, and it's fine for your child to wear one. The tradition of a person or couple assigned by the parents to keep track of a child's faith has a long and significant history in the church. We refer to godparents as "sponsors" whose primary purpose is spiritual, and welcome them to be involved in the dedication ceremony if they wish.
Though there is no maximum age (or minimum age) at which you can dedicate your kids, we find that most families dedicate their kids when they are in the age range of infant through pre-k. Children that are much older than this should be at a point of considering to place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.