“In my heart, I have love.” My seven-year-old daughter articulated this simple profession while we prepared for her baptism together. She gets it. Love is ground zero.
I had the privilege of helping to create a brand-new baptism resource with The Foundry Kids called My Baptism Story. I spent plenty of time on the creating-writing-editing-rewriting-overthinking-simplifying-rewriting side of this book, but when my daughter expressed her desire to be baptized, I got to experience the consumer side for the first time. We created the book for kids and their parents or trusted adults to work through together, along with a pastor. The time my daughter and I shared in this resource was so meaningful.
I want to offer an example of what baptism could look like for kids in your church. Maybe you’re already being intentional about it. Maybe this will stir up some of your own ideas.
The very first page of the book gives kids an opportunity to express their own understanding of baptism. Right away, my daughter equated baptism with the born-again aspect of her salvation. Her response was genuine, but clearly, she had plenty to learn concerning what we believe about baptism (I got her permission to share these pictures of her progress through My Baptism Story.)
From there, we dug into several scriptures that offer insight into baptism theology and stories in the New Testament. She then had opportunities to answer questions about what we had read and compare what we found in the scriptures to her own baptism experience. This process led us to several discoveries about what our baptism means for God, for us, and for our community of faith.
She then had an opportunity to articulate her own testimony. Typically, that’s not something a seven-year-old has yet gotten to do, so the book offers some leading questions to help her tell her story.
After this, there was space in the book for me to write a blessing over her as a spiritual mentor, which was a great joy for me. Then we dug into some of the details of her baptism, including learning the meaning of the words sacrament and liturgy, and discussing and unpacking our own church’s liturgy. We talked about sharing her baptism with others and went through the logistics of the details for her baptism day (what time she needs to arrive, where she will change clothes, etc.).
We created My Baptism Story so children’s leaders could walk through it with parents or other trusted adults along with children, to help them make their discoveries and capture these details. I was in a unique situation as dad and pastor, which is why it was just the two of us working together.
Finally, the day before my daughter’s baptism, she and I sat down and went back through what she had learned and written in her book. We looked back through Scripture and retold her Christian story up to this point in her life. The book then asks the exact same question it asked on the very first page. Her new response made clear that she understood baptism in new ways after this special time we spent together.
On the day of her baptism, she invited about thirty extra people to come to church to experience it with her. She invited out-of-town friends, in-town friends, cousins, grandparents, and even her piano teacher. They filled several rows in our church, and it visibly filled her with pride to know they were all there for her. I baptized her in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I also cried. And I might have cried on the way to church that morning too, but there were no witnesses, so I will neither confirm nor deny.
After church, all of her extra guests gathered together for lunch. My daughter got to pick the menu (“Grandma’s famous meatballs and sooooo much mac ’n’ cheese!”). We had a huge celebration! We wanted her to know just how important this was. Bigger than a birthday. Baptism only happens once, and it should be celebrated with the biggest party you can remember.
Days before, I had invited everyone who felt comfortable to prepare a word of blessing for her. After lunch, more than thirty people crammed into a living room and showered her with Scripture and prophetic words for her life. Other kids spoke. Grandparents. Uncles. Friends. She was reminded again and again about the public proclamation she had made that day. She was also reminded that she would not walk alone but that her community of faith would surround her and lift her up.
I had bought a three-ounce, clear-plastic bottle from Hobby Lobby earlier that week. I filled it with water from the baptismal that day and presented it to her during her blessing ceremony after lunch. I told her that the bottle of the baptism water was to help her remember her baptism.
Then we ate brownies and ice cream. Her choice.
The book has a final page for her to journal her thoughts after being baptized and to place a picture from her big day. These will help her remember.
Finally, I set a reminder in my phone for October 8, 2018. On that day, we will look back through her book and the pictures and videos from her big day. Together, we will remember her baptism.
Even though I helped write the book, I discovered new insights into baptism after going through this process and using the My Baptism Story resource with my daughter. Her answers revealed her heart, and I learned from a young Christian what it means to live into your baptism. It was an unbelievable day, and I’m thrilled she has so much that will help her remember, including all of her baptism thoughts and knowledge captured in one place. Our experience together was a blessing for this daddy and a blessing for this pastor.
My Baptism Story is available for purchase at The Foundry Publishing.