Even after five years of organizing baby dedications, I’m still tweaking the process. You see baby dedication isn’t that simple at our church, and the changes over time come from my desire to see the parents fully aware of what they’re participating in and fully informed of what steps to take after the dedication is over. This is complex at our church because we have not always required church membership, we have 13 services per week on three campuses, and we have people from 83 different countries with various cultural and religious backgrounds. To top it all off, we are Baptist, though many of the folks who attend our church know nothing of Baptist doctrine, traditions, etc. Did I say complicated???
Five plus years ago, before I organized the dedications, we had only four services, 3 Sunday Morning, 1 Saturday night, and there was the typical cattle call. “Please come forward if you’d like to dedicate your baby”. There was the announcing of the parents and baby and the typical prayer to thank God for the baby and to ask God to give the parents wisdom in raising the child in a Godly fashion.
This always bothered me for two reasons: 1- I am an organized person and it was totally chaotic looking and unorganized; so, that got under my skin. 2- Who are these people? Are they even Christians? Do they regularly attend our church, or did they just show up today? How can we get to know them and support them on this journey?
So, I began to think, plan and re-organize baby dedication. The first step was to have a registration process. This at least enabled us to know which parents were walking up on stage, and it helped us to greet them properly and to give them a bit of information regarding baby dedication before hand. The second step was a hugely unpopular move, but necessary – We made the stage time about Mom, Dad and Baby. No gradparents, no godparents. Even though unpopular, you actually noticed the dedicating parents during the dedication instead of trying to pick them out of the herd. Both changes were necessary and prove to be lasting ones. The only problems we encountered at that point were really late arrivals (right before presentation time) and the addition of seven more weekly services for our church. I’ll stop here for Part 1. In Part 2 I’ll explain how we do dedication with so many services to choose from.