Baby dedication. Parent dedication. Words matter. Even if the difference in wording only subtly changes the perspective it can signal a significant difference in intentions. At ReCAST we prefer to have a parent dedication service rather than baby or infant dedication services.
When parents come to this service in two weeks, it is important to consider what it is specifically that they are dedicating to the Lord? Are they dedicating the child, or are they dedicating themselves? I would suggest that only one of these is within their grasp to dedicate.
As much as we would love a promise of a specific outcome with our children, anyone in the process of raising children quickly discovers that we have a role of influence, but not a role of control. We cannot ensure any specific outcome. And the reality is, that our children already belong to God in the general way of being created by Him.
What we mean specifically in a parent dedication is that parents will come before the church and declare their intentions to do the best they can to raise their children in godliness. They do this to acknowledge publicly their need for accountability in this task of honoring God in the process of raising their child.
Dedicating a baby sounds a lot like a one time event that displays our hope in a specific outcome. Dedicating ourselves to parenting sounds like a life-long commitment to a process of working hard to raise up our children for His glory. Are we committing to a process or are we expecting a mystical event that evokes some promise that if we dedicate them to the Lord then it will all just work out?
I am grateful for the many parents over the years who have publicly declared their desire to be Godly parents. But maybe the most important part of this entire invention of parent dedication at our church is when we as a church commit to pray for these parents. Taking the steps to get up front and declare our desires to be Godly parents is a noble, but easy thing. But the tough parts come in the attempts to be consistent in our discipline, patient in the tough years, and diligent to be Godly examples to our children.
We need reminders to pray for one another, and this time of parent dedication is an excellent time to be reminded to pray for parents who are willing to put themselves out there and say, “I want to dedicate myself to the Lord in the rewarding, difficult, and stressful task of raising this child.”