Thanksgiving and Baptism
We are delighted that you have made contact with the church family at Deane about a special service for your child. We hope and pray that in the months and years ahead both you and your child will explore all the good things that God has in store for you.
Church of England churches offer two services: Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child and Baptism.
We find at Deane that most people who ask for the baptism of a child (also known as 'Christening') aren't clear about what baptism actually is. If you are in that position, that's OK! We're here to help you. This page will explain thanksgiving and baptism so that you will be in a better position to know which is the right route for you and your child at this time.
A service of Thanksgiving
A Service of Thanksgiving can be arranged at comparatively short notice and is a step on the way to baptism. In many ways it is baptism without the water! It involves special prayers for the child and family and the dedication of him/her to God. It does not involve parents or Godparents making promises. More and more parents these days are opting for this service, for various reasons which may include:
Why have a Thanksgiving service?
If it is that you have not been attending Deane church for long, or at all recently, then a service of thanksgiving is almost certainly the right service for you at this time.
A service of Baptism
A Service of Baptism is a much bigger step and involves you making a far greater commitment. This is why it is not simply a case of booking in a date for a baptism. For those who have not been previously attending Deane church regularly, it would typically take six months from first enquiry before we would think about a date for a baptism service, which will then be sometime later to fit in with our Sunday services programme.
At Deane, baptisms are conducted as part of our normal Sunday services.
Firstly let's dispel some popular myths about baptism of babies!
Baptism is not.....
It’s also important to realise that being baptised does not make you a Christian, which is why at Deane we tend not to talk about it as 'Christening'. The Bible is very clear that salvation comes through
personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Church of England, babies are baptised in the hope that they will grow up to be believers.
A child makes their baptism real by having faith in what the baptism represents as they grow older.
In the Baptism service, parents and Godparents are asked to make a series of promises. It can be easy to say words in a church service without thinking too deeply about what they mean. At Deane we do not want to put words into anyone's mouth and we certainly don't want anyone to be promising anything they do not fully understand or intend to follow through with.
Here are some of the promises that are made in the service:
Jesus Christ as our Saviour
In the service parents and Godparents promise to turn to Christ as Saviour & to come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life....
- Are you clear about who the Lord Jesus Christ is?
- Do you understand how he can be a person's Saviour?
- Do you understand the response a person has to make in order to be a Christian?
- Have you made that response? If so, when?
If you aren't clear about any of this, you are going to struggle to explain it to your child as they grow up. This is why it is important that you attend church. Listen carefully to the talks. Ask questions. Read the Bible... we suggest that you start with Luke's gospel. Do the Christianity Explored course THEN, you will be in a much better place to decide if you can make these promises.
In the service parents and Godparents promise to pray for the child....
- Do you pray for and with your child already?
- Do you know how to pray?
Even Jesus’ disciples needed to be taught how to pray. On the Christianity Explored course and in other ways at Deane, we learn about prayer and how to pray.
Community of faith
In the service parents and Godparents promise to draw the child, by their example, into the community of faith & to help them take their place within the life and worship of Christ's Church....
This means belonging to a local church (like Deane!), attending a weekly service with your child and, as appropriate, getting involved with the wider life of the church.
At Deane we require that you attend church regularly for a number of months before we think about a Baptism service, and to continue attending afterwards. You can only draw your child into the community of faith (God's church) if you yourself are part of the community of faith!
Submitting to Christ as Lord
In the service parents and Godparents promise to walk with the child in the way of Christ and to submit to Christ as Lord....
This means living according to God’s manual for life, the Bible. The way of Christ is the best and most fulfilling way to live life since it is how the Creator designed us to live!
However, this way of life is so often very different to the way of British society today. If a parent or Godparent is not even trying to live out and model to their growing child the Christian life, the promises made in the Baptism service are rather hollow.
For instance, the Bible teaches that being in a sexual relationship outside of marriage is not what God wants for us, and is therefore not 'walking in the way of Christ' or 'submitting to Christ as Lord'. This is just one example of the clash between living for God and living by worldly standards.
So in summary, if at this time you cannot, for any reason, make these promises with all sincerity and from your heart then DON'T DO IT! Wait until such time as you can. God would much rather you did not make promises that you knew you couldn't keep.
A service of thanksgiving, which does not involve parents or Godparents making promises, would be the more appropriate service.
But please hear very clearly two more things:
1. Nobody can live God's way without his help and empowerment. In the baptism service the parents and Godparents respond with the words 'With the help of God, we will.' None of us live perfect lives and only with God's help can we live the way he wants us to. And even when we get it wrong, we can receive his forgiveness and healing when we put our trust in him.
2. The baptism of a baby is more about the adults making the promises than it is about the child. Babies cannot answer for themselves. So delaying the baptism of a baby (and opting instead for a service of thanksgiving) is not somehow unfair on the baby, it is actually a very good thing and pleasing to God.
If you are serious about baptism then you will be serious about getting to know God better, and baptism is pointless apart from the life of God's church.
Having read through this information, think it through, perhaps asking God to guide you. Then do please get in touch with us and one of the clergy will get back to you to discuss things further.