Many protestant churches do not practice infant baptism. These churches often substitute a baby dedication ceremony. While the infant baptism is primarily concerned with the infant, the baby dedication is a challenge to parents and grandparents to raise the child to serve God. This change occurred because many protestant Christians believe that water baptism only has efficacy after a person has an ability to make a conscious decision to follow Christ. Since infants do not have that capacity, it is believed that the purity of infancy and early childhood protects them from the judgments of God.
However, protestant believers do believe that the Bible exhorts parents and families to raise their children in a Godly fashion. The baby dedication ceremony becomes an opportunity for parents to declare their intent publicly before people and God. A prayer is offered for God to help the parents fulfill their part of the dedication and for the child to be led by the Spirit at the right time into a decision to make a commitment to Christ.
These ceremonies can be quite simple with a minister asking the couple about their intent and following with a prayer. They can be made much more complex with repeated vows. I developed a ceremony from portions of others that I have encountered. It can be made modified relatively easily by the minister officiating at the event.
To perform this rite, you will need:
1 White Rose I prefer silk because they will last as keepsakes, but real will do fine.
1 Red Rose
1 Rose bud I prefer white, but almost any color can be used
1 Child's New Testament, but I try to get either the pink or blue to match the gender.
1 Dedication Certificate. These can be obtained at almost any Christian book and gift store.
Meet with the parent(s) a week or so before the dedication ceremony is scheduled to occur. Make certain they understand the meaning of the ceremony and a general idea how the ceremony will be conducted. Encourage the parent(s) be certain that their relationship with God is strong. Ask if the grandparents will be attending the ceremony. If they are Christians, you may want to invite them to pray for their children while you offer the dedicatory prayer for the infant.
Before the service when the dedication will occur, place the roses, certificate (already filled in), and New Testament on a table near where the ceremony will be conducted. Some ministers recruit their spouse or staff member to assist by giving the items to the couple at the appropriate point in the ceremony.
The minister addresses the congregation before calling the family of the infant forward.
The scripture reminds us that children are a heritage from the Lord. God entrusts them to us to raise in the fear of God and in His service. As parents, we must be vigilant from earliest childhood to stress the importance of God's presence in our lives. This must be done not only by our words, but by our actions. Parents must model their Christian life before their family.
We do not believe it is necessary to baptize infants in water because baptism is to follow a choice to give our life to God and ask for the forgiveness of sins. Infants are unable to do either. God honors their purity.
Call the couple forward.
Present the Red Rose to the father of the child.
This red rose is given to represent your role in raising this young child. Bringing up a child is done best by two dedicated parents. As the father of this little one, this red rose represents the importance of the family blood line. In most societies, it is the blood line of the father that is considered to be continued in the children. You are the keeper of this trust. You are expected to teach your child what this means. It is your responsibility to instruct him/her in the value of a good name and reputation. Likewise, you must conduct your own life to be an example of this before him/her.
The Bible puts you in the unique position to be the priest and leader of your family. Take this responsibility with great seriousness. No one will do it for you. Lead your family in prayer and spiritual matters. Be a father that your child can follow in life and into heaven.
The red rose also represents the work of Christ in giving his blood for salvation. At the appropriate time, you are challenged to make sure that your son/daughter has the plan of salvation made clear so a decision can be made by him/her for Christ. Follow that decision by assisting your child to continue to grow as a Christian.
Present the White Rose to the Mother of the Child.
This white rose symbolizes purity. It is your responsibility to instruct him/her in the value of living a pure life before man and God. Your duty is to maintain purity within your life and within your home as an example of the purity of Christ. The Bible challenges us to live a life without sin and above reproach. Maintain this purity with all of your strength.
The white rose also stands for the purity that comes from the imparted righteousness of God at the time of salvation. Seek God often for help to maintain this standard and to teach it to your child when he/she is old enough to understand. It is only by realizing the meaning of purity that the child will grasp the unholy nature of sin and choose to forsake it.
Present the Rose Bud to the parent that is not holding the child.
The rose bud has not yet revealed what it will be. Its loveliness and potential are still locked within its tightly closed petals. With time, the rose within will be revealed. Like the rose, your baby has a future that will be discovered as he/she grows and develops. Unlike the rose, this future will be directly influenced by you. Help this delicate life to unfold in a way that is pleasing to God and man.
This child has been given to you as a sacred trust. How you handle this trust will affect how this life unfolds. Enlist God's help daily with this task. Small things will be big in a young life. Treat your son/daughter as the special gift that he/she is. This life is in your hands. Handle it with the care it deserves.
Call the grandparents forward if they are to be a part of the ceremony.
Each of us also has a role in the life of this child. We must include him/her in our daily prayers. It is important to this child that we assist these parents in their calling to raise a Godly child. While remembering that this is their son/daughter, we still have a challenge to be an asset to this effort.
Present the New Testament to the parents:
I give you this New Testament as God's Word. Let this word be the light and guide that is needed to instruct you as parents and grandparents in raising this little one. Teach him/her its precepts and doctrines. Always strive to keep this Word before your son/daughter so that it will become a part of his/her life.
If you choose to, take the baby into your arms to pray for it. If the grandparents are involved, ask them to pray for their son and daughter as you pray for the infant.
Offer this or a similar prayer:
Lord, we bring this child to you. You have given him/her to these parents. I ask you to grant strength and wisdom to this couple to make the right choices for this child as he/she grows before you. Help them to raise this little one to love and fear you.
We dedicate this child, (Child's name), to you today. May he/she always follow your word and your leading. Help him/her to become an example of Christian faith in his/her family and community. Let your light shine through his/her eyes and life.
On this day, these parents make this commitment to do all within their power to raise their child to serve you. They will offer their protection, guidance, help, and hope to him/her each and every day.
Bless this family with your presence, unity, and love. In Christ's holy name we ask these things. Amen.
Present the certificate to the parents as you conclude:
This certificate will remind you of your commitment that was made before God on this day. May God continue to bless you and your family.
If this is the end of the service, you may want to have the family remain at the front and invite any friends and relatives to come and offer them words of support and blessing.