At Westside, we love babies! We have a whole section of our kid's space dedicated to them. Some of our absolute best volunteers are the dedicated leaders that love, lead, and pray for babies in the baby ministry class each week.  

Two times each year, we host Parent Dedication services in order to celebrate new children who have joined their families. It’s a special time to honor God because of his blessing and to focus as parents for the challenging responsibility of parenting a child’s heart.


 

WHAT IS PARENT DEDICATION? 

New parents frequently ask us about the process of having their child baptized. We love that engaged parents are seeking what’s best for their kids physically, developmentally and spiritually. However, we do not baptize infants at Westside. Essentially, we believe that baptism is the action a person takes after becoming a Christ Follower. We see this many times in scripture as people believed in Jesus Christ and were subsequently baptized. 

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 

Acts 8:13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 

Acts 18:8 Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized. 

Acts 19:4-5 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 

Because we see baptism as something done after making a clear decision to follow Jesus, we do not baptize infants or young children. Instead, we offer Parent-Child Dedication.

This is a very special and important time, both for the parents as well as the child. It’s a time where parents present themselves, their parenting, and their child to the Lord. Family and/or friends as well as others from the church surround them and together they commit to raising their child under God’s guidance and love. 

Although this isn’t a required spiritual practice, we do see where children were dedicated to the Lord in the Bible. In 1 Samuel 1:27-28 we see how Hannah took her son Samuel to the temple to dedicate him to the Lord. As well in Luke 2:21-38 we see Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to the temple to be dedicated. 

In the dedication, we’re dedicating  several things to the Lord:

  • We’re dedicating the child to God. Our prayer of dedication is that they will grow in knowledge of God and his son Jesus and that when the child is old enough, they will make a decision to follow Him. This isn’t the salvation of a child or a “necessary spiritual step,” but rather acknowledging that we want God to be in the life of this child. 

  • We’re dedicating the parents to God. God has entrusted the parents to spiritually train this child. The church is here to help, but ultimately the responsibility is on the parents. So we pray to dedicate Mom and Dad’s efforts of creating a safe and healthy environment where a child can learn about God and grow in relationship with Him. So, in this dedication, Mom and Dad commit to do everything within their ability to point their children to God and help them follow Him. 

  • We’re dedicating the friends and family to God. Children are rarely influenced by the parents alone. Family and family friends have a significant influence. It is the responsibility of family and friends to hold parents accountable and encourage parents in both their marriage relationship and efforts to spiritually train their children. 

 
 

Because Westside is such a young and vibrant church with dozens of new babies born every year, we have made it simple to participate in Parent Dedication. 

We conveniently host two Saturday Parent Dedication services each year to accommodate most  schedules. Before participating in the service, all parents are required to attend a Preparation for Parent Dedication class, which are offered several weeks before the dedication. Parents will select and sign up for the class that works best with their schedule on the Parent Dedication registration form. 

Due to the fact that we host the dedication on a Saturday morning, we are able to take a little time with each family. Parents are encouraged to invite family, friends and anyone who will be an influence in their or their child’s life. A pastoral leader will gather with each family  and spend plenty of time connecting with and praying with the family about the new child. After this time of prayer, families are encouraged to enjoy refreshments at their table or step out to the vignette area for a family photo to commemorate the day. 

 
 

How is Parent Dedication different from baptism?

We believe that baptism is a response to one's decision to fully follow Christ. Parent dedication is where parents dedicate themselves, their parenting efforts and their child to God so that when a child is old enough to understand, they too will choose to follow Christ and then be baptized.

Can a child be too old to be dedicated?

No. Technically the decision is a prayer of dedication for parents as well as the child. The service is for parents as well as for children. Usually, the child being dedicated is not yet old enough to fully understand what it means to follow Christ. However, if your child is old enough to understand, this would be a great opportunity to talk about what it means to follow Christ. If this is your case, let us know as we would love to support you.

What is the Preparation for Parent dedication class like?

Preparation for parent dedication is a very relaxed class. We sit parents together at tables where they can get to know other new parents or parents of young children. The class is designed to allow engaging discussion. Essentially, we take some time to explain what parent dedication is, and is not. We will also clearly explain what we believe the Bible says about parenting and what spiritual responsibilities parents have. Most importantly we share how Westside wants to partner with parents in order to equip and encourage them as they spiritually lead and train their children. Last of all, we cover all the details you’ll need to know about the parent dedication ceremony.

What is the Parent Dedication like?

Parent dedication is a short and simple service. One of our worship team leaders  will lead worship. The Family Pastor  will speak for a few minutes about dedication, explaining to those in attendance what parent dedication is all about. The remainder of the service is of devotion and prayer. Parents and children, along with their friends and family, circle together for a time of prayer with one of our pastoral leaders. Parents are also encouraged to read the letter written during  a short homework assignment, if they so wish. A leader will pray over the child, the parents and the family and friends as it relates to the child being dedicated to the Lord.