Reaching people is all about seizing opportunity. An easily overlooked opportunity is the occasion to dedicate babies. Baby dedications do not have to be a “blah” service. Give it some spice and a life beyond the event itself. I’m sure there are many good ideas I’ve never heard of. Please share your additional thoughts and give us as many practical ideas as you can. I’m a great proponent of Tom Peters concept, “Not Invented Here, but Stolen With Pride!” Any place there is a good idea that fits for me – I put the idea to work. Here are some things that worked for me.
1. As much as possible, proactively schedule the baby dedication on a Sunday that is good for getting additional people (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) to attend. I tried to steer away from Easter, Mother’s Day , Father’s Day, Memorial and Labor Day. Those days either already had a focus or a significant travel weekend. Schedule the baby dedication at least three weeks in the future. These three weeks allows the parents time to invite their family members to attend. Announce the baby dedication early and often. Usually, there will be someone in the church, even the youngest of churches, who have a co-worker, neighbor or friend who is interested in “dedicating” their baby to the Lord. Cast a wide net. I did not worry about whether these parents are saved or lost – use the baby dedication as a chance to connect with the parents and to underline their parental responsibility toward their child. On an occasion or two we gave the parents cards to invite their family and friends.
2. Use the baby dedication to prepare to preach constructively and evangelistically to parents. Potential topics include – A. Impacting generations to come – Example: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob B. Faith Transition – Example: Timothy influenced by the unfeigned faith that was in those before him. C. Moments of decision – Example: the responsibility to parent is a hinge moment for a person to have faith, and obey the instruction to repent, be baptized in Jesus name and to be filled with the spirit.
3. Make the baby dedication personal – involve family members even if they are not part of the church. In dealing with new people, be ready for all sorts of attire, and all sorts of situations. Unwed moms, unwed dads, grandmothers who want their baby dedicated to Jesus. Remember what your goal is. It was my practice to make the baby dedication as individual as possible. I’d take the baby from parents, comment on his or her clothes, name, etc. Holding the baby I’d pray over him/her, then returning the child to parents – and would then lay hands on them. If the parents did not have their own family present I’d have someone from the church family come and stand alongside them. Make time for pictures.
4. Gifts – Norma would have a flower for Mom . . . and I’d have a “Baby’s first Bible” for Dad. A relatively inexpensive Bible we used for the gift was “Baby’s First Bible.” When I gave the fellow the Bible, I’d always instruct him to read the Bible stories to their children. I’d kid the fathers that I’d eventually be asking their kids if they’d read to them. Try to have fun with the event.
5. A personalized letter to the child, for the parents to give the child when he/she turns 16. The letter was always sealed in an envelope and on church letterhead. Parents would often ask what the letter said. My response: You’ll find out on their 16th birthday. The letters had the same basic premises, but always included a personalized paragraph or two and in some instances a hand-written note. These letters were a huge hit. A rough-up of the letter is at: http://truth-publications.com/?p=956
If you’ve found this beneficial, or will at some point in the future pass it on to a friend. Now . . . what are you doing with baby dedications? Like you, I’m looking for new ideas to add to my tool box.