Talking to kids about baptism can be tricky if a child is uneasy about being immersed in water. It’s important to carefully explain baptism to overcome any fears a child may have and find out if he or she is ready to take this special step in their faith journey.
As you lead your child to Jesus, there will be many important moments you both look back on with joy. Baptism can be one of those life-changing experiences if you help your child understand how precious it is to make this public declaration of their faith.
Talking to Kids about Baptism
Read these important questions and answers with your child as you both consider whether or not he or she is ready to be baptized. Download and print our BAPTISM TOOLKIT for more resources to help you and your child decide if they are ready for baptism.
What is Baptism?
In some denominations, baptism is performed shortly after birth by sprinkling water on a child’s forehead. In others, baptism is done later in life (following a person’s salvation) by full immersion in water. Both methods of baptism symbolize cleansing and purification.
In this post, we’ll focus on baptism by full immersion – what it means and how talking openly with kids about it will help prepare them for this important moment in their spiritual journey.
Baptism is a public declaration of faith in Jesus Christ. Following a person’s salvation, he or she may elect to go before the church community to be baptized in water as an outward profession of their decision to follow Jesus.
Baptism is a symbol. Being immersed in water and then raised up again represents the cleansing that occurs when we accept God’s gift of salvation. It is only because of the work Jesus did on the cross that we have the promise of purification and the hope of new life. Many pastors will declare as they baptize a person, “You are buried with Christ in baptism and raised to experience new life in him.” (from Romans 6:4)
Why do we Baptize?
We baptize to follow Jesus’ example. (Luke 3:21-22) Since baptism is a symbol of cleansing and purification and Jesus was without sin, we often wonder why he was baptized. There are many schools of thought in answer to this question but we simply need to know: Jesus was baptized as an example of obedience to this important act. And now, we are baptized to follow his example.
We baptize because Jesus told us to. (Matthew 28:19) Furthermore, it is our act of obedience when we are baptized ourselves and baptize others in his name according to the instructions of scripture.
Who can be Baptized?
Anyone can be baptized after receiving God’s gift of salvation. The Bible makes reference several times in the New Testament to those who first, acknowledged their sins and asked for forgiveness (received the gift of salvation) and then were baptized. (Matthew 3:6 + Acts 2:38 are two examples.)
There is no age requirement for baptism, however, it’s important that we make a decision to accept Jesus and fully understand the meaning of baptism before taking this important step.
When I was nine years old, my family moved to a new state. Before we left the church I grew up in, I wanted to be baptized there. Without taking the time to sit down with me, my pastor decided I was too young and wouldn’t understand baptism. I will never forget the disappointment I felt. I had accepted Jesus several years before and I absolutely, without-a-doubt, knew what baptism was about. I can remember the exact place I was standing in the church sanctuary when my parents came to tell me he said no. I often look back on that disappointment as a reminder to never assume a child isn’t ready for something – especially when that something is as big as making a public declaration of faith in Jesus. I didn’t hold on to that disappointment for too long. I was baptized years later in the ocean on a youth trip (it was super cool). God knew the exact moment I needed to take that step on my spiritual journey. But I’m thankful for this reminder to talk openly with my children about baptism (and anything really) before assuming I know whether or not they are ready.
What if I’m afraid to be Baptized?
Baptism can make some people uneasy because it involves being immersed in water. But there truly is nothing to be afraid of. The act of being “dunked” (as some old school church goers like to call it) literally takes a few seconds. One moment you are declaring your faith and love for Jesus and the next you are being raised to new life in Christ! The scariest part is figuring out how to get from the church platform to the bathroom without getting anyone soaked.
Some people just don’t like to be in front of an audience. And that’s okay. Baptism isn’t about drawing attention to ourselves. The main reason baptism is done in front of the church is so that the community knows of our decision and can help us grow in Jesus. If you are shy about baptism, remember this: you will not be the one on display. All glory and honor and attention goes to Jesus when one of God’s children is baptized!
I think this was the issue with my daughter. We had been talking about baptism for a while since she accepted Jesus at the age of five. We’d gone through some church transitions so when our pastor finally announced a baptism service this past January, I was thrilled she might finally being able to take this public declaration three years after making her decision to follow Jesus. But when I first brought it up, she was apprehensive. I could tell she was uneasy. My girl doesn’t like being in front of a crowd and she was very unsure about being “dunked” under water. We decided not to push her. We’d talk about it every now and then to gauge her comfort level. As God would have it, the week before we needed to let the church know if she’d be participating, a friend from school was baptized and her mom posted a video of the service on Facebook. After watching her friend take this brave step in her relationship with Jesus, my girl decided she wanted to as well. Hope made the decision to be baptized and her courage and excitement grew and grew. We invited all of our family and a few friends for the important occasion. More precious than any school performance or award, sporting event or birthday, our girl was making a public declaration of her choice to follow Jesus. It was one of the happiest days of my life as a mom.
Download and print our BAPTISM TOOLKIT for more resources to help you along your journey.
Remember, there is no rush to be baptized. When you (or your children) are ready to make this important declaration of your faith in Jesus, he will rejoice with you! If you have more questions about baptism, talk to your pastor or children’s pastor. And of course, as with any big step along your spiritual journey, pray and ask God to help you make the right decision in his perfect timing.
What other details can we help you with as you make a decision about baptism?