One of the most underrated tools for reaching families today is the baby dedication event. It’s your chance to cast a vision for what the partnership between a family and the church will look like as families travel through your NextGen ministry from cradle to college. There is no better time to get a family integrated and bought into your ministry than when they dedicate their child. When you expand baby dedication from a brief moment that happens on a Sunday morning to its own event, you create an experience for a family that will be impactful and memorable.
While developing our parent/child dedication event, Embrace, at our current church, I had a few takeaways I learned from the experience.
1. Content is king.
We require all of our parents to attend a class before the actual dedication event. The class is our time to cast vision. We give them an overview of the phases and how we, as a church, will be coming alongside them to support them and their child along the way. We cast a vision for a parenting strategy where the church and the home combine their influences to have the greatest impact on their child. We give parents three commitments to work towards in their parenting journey.
We want parents to…
embrace your child with the love of Christ, focusing not on what you want your child’s future to be, but WHO you want them to become.
embrace your church as another voice in your child’s life, partnering with you to echo the message you’re instilling in your kids at home.
embrace your calling as a parent as the primary influence of faith and character in your child’s life.
2. Talent is all around you.
I love for families to be able to have a keepsake when they leave the event. There is a sweet lady in our church who is such a talented painter. I approached her about doing a canvas for each child with their name or monogram on it and the date they were dedicated. They turned out gorgeous, and it was such a blessing to see someone be able to use their talents in such a lasting way. Now, she’s armed our ministry with the tools to have our volunteers make these keepsakes ourselves.
We also have several photographers who lent their expertise to the event. One manned our Photo Booth for families, and one took pictures of the details and the event. Our parents were thankful to be able to concentrate on being in the moment rather than documenting the moment. It was a great gift to be able to give them these photographs several weeks after the event.
3. Be sensible.
Any event you create can be as expensive as you want it to be. Find ways to save money on those things that don’t rise in importance. In previous events, I would have used fresh flowers everywhere from the family tables to the food tables. This time around we decided to use cotton and magnolia leaves – it created a beautiful woodland feel. And better than that, is the fact that it was cheap and reusable! In the past, we did our event in the evening and served a light dinner. By moving the event to a Saturday morning, we were able to serve a light breakfast. It was easy for a team to provide and also cost-effective for the event.
4. Splurge on the important things.
Some details are essential to our ministry and are worth the investment. In our parenting class before the event, we give all of our parents books. In the past, parents have received Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, From This Day Forward (marriage), and Praying Circles Around Your Children. We also give our parents a jar of marbles customized with their child’s birth date with a marble for every week they have left with their child before they go to college. We want parents to take a marble out every week so that they can be reminded to make the most of the time they have with their kids.
Storytelling is important to our church family. For this reason, we have someone document the event in video. After the event, we put together a recap video celebrating the event. We then show that video in our weekend service so our entire church family can celebrate what took place.
What unique features do you include in your baby dedication?