How Do Adventists Do Baby Dedications?
For Christians, dedication ceremonies for babies, also for older children, are an important time for parents and the church. It’s a special part of the worship service when parents present their young children to God and the church family. Both parents, along with the congregation, regard this as a solemn promise to be a Christ-like example to the child.
When parents dedicate their child, it’s a conscious choice to raise them in a household environment that puts God first and reflects His selfless love.
Children and babies have always been especially important to God. The Bible says that “children are a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3, NKJV). Jesus even told his disciples that the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children (Matthew 19:14).
That’s why these dedications are a crucial step in the undertaking of Christian parenting. So we’ll take a look at what Adventist baby dedications are like. We’ll learn:
- What happens at an infant dedication ceremony
- At what age infants can be dedicated
- Where the practice of child dedications came from
- The purpose of child dedications—how it benefits church, parents, and child
Let’s see how an infant dedication happens.
What happens at an infant dedication ceremony?
While some Christian denominations hold a separate dedication service for a child dedication, Adventists usually hold a dedication ceremony during the main church service, before the sermon.
Some denominations even hold infant baptisms. However, the Adventist Church does not equate a baby dedication with an infant baptism or christening. We believe a person should only be baptized once they are old enough to make a personal decision to follow Jesus.
When babies are dedicated, they do not become members of the church, as they do in the case of baptism. Baby dedication is also not required, as are infant baptisms.
When it comes to the dedication ceremony itself, most are short and to the point. On average, about 5-15 minutes (since most babies and young children might have a hard time staying still while up front!). It’s also most common for these dedications to take place within a typical weekly Sabbath worship service. The family and the child’s name will likely be listed in the church bulletin.
At the appropriate time in the church service, the pastor invites the parents, the baby, and any other family or friends present, to the front of the church. At this time, some baby pictures might be shown on a screen, accompanied by the child’s full name, birthday, and any other information the family wishes to share.1
The pastor begins the dedication by asking the parents to affirm the biblical principles they will use in the raising of this child. These usually center around making an effort to model themselves after Christ’s example, and to teach their child about their loving Creator.
Next, the pastor asks the congregation to assume the responsibility of supporting this child and their family, pledging to help nurture their faith in Jesus as they grow. They become the child’s church family. To make this declaration, the congregation might read a commitment off the screen or bulletin in a responsive reading style.
After everyone has affirmed their commitment, the pastor prays over the child, both to bless them and dedicate them to God, as well as blessing and praying for the parents and family in this exciting and serious role they’re undertaking.2
After the prayer, the pastor presents them with a small gift of some sort, or a commemorative certificate that symbolizes their commitment to bring up their child in a godly environment.3
This concludes the baby dedication. To cap this special time, some churches may sing a special song when the parents and family have gone back to their seats.
What age are babies dedicated?
The Adventist Church doesn’t have a required age at which babies must be dedicated. It’s up to the parents when they feel ready.
Most Christian parents choose to dedicate their babies in the first year after they’re born, with an estimated average age of between 4 and 8 months old.4
However, this may not be the case for every family. Sometimes new members want to dedicate their children, even if they’re much older than babies. This is perfectly acceptable, too. It all depends on the situation and needs of the family. If a family wants to dedicate and consecrate their parenting efforts in a public manner that involves their church family, no one is going to refuse!
But if you still have questions about the best time or method for dedicating your children, you can always talk to your local pastor. Since there aren’t set “rules” when it comes to the age of the children, a pastor will be more than willing to discuss how to orchestrate the most appropriate and meaningful dedication ceremony for your family.
After all, the whole point is for your family and the church to make a formal promise together, for the benefit of your children, in the presence of God. As long as that happens, the rest are just details.
Where the practice of child dedications came from
The modern baby dedication has its roots in the 1500s with the Anabaptist Movement.5 In a nutshell, Anabaptists are Protestants who believe people should only be baptized when they accept Jesus. Babies or young children are not old enough to make their own decision. And since God created us to have free will, Anabaptists decided young children shouldn’t be the center of a ceremony that celebrates a decision.
However, each child is a wonderful blessing from God that is appropriate to celebrate! So they thought dedicating their children to God by the promises they make as parents would be more fitting. And that way, it makes it about the parents’ commitment, rather than a child’s decision.
And this tradition stuck. Many Protestant denominations dedicate their babies.
In the Adventist Church, the practice of baby dedications formed gradually over time.6 It’s a common and accepted ceremony, but to this day there are no written guidelines for it in the Church Manual. That way, each local church can adapt a dedication ceremony to the needs and priorities of the family and the congregation.
But dedicating children is not just a tradition made up by pastors. They have a foundation in biblical examples. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about child dedications.
Examples in the Bible
Scripture describes two baby dedications. The first is about the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1:27-28). In the story, Hannah, a woman who couldn’t have children, prayed earnestly to God to be able to have a child. God answered her prayer and she had a baby boy.
In thankfulness toward God for answering her prayer, she promised to “lend him [Samuel] to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:28, NKJV). So when Samuel was old enough to be away from his mother, he served at the temple. And he grew up to be one of the most famous prophets.
The other example is in the New Testament—Jesus. Luke 2:22-38 describes how Joseph and Mary took Jesus, when he was a few months old, to Jerusalem to “present Him to the Lord” (verse 22, NASB), which was done in honor of Exodus 13:2 and 12 that talk about “consecrating” the firstborn to the Lord.
A local man named Simeon recognized Jesus was the Messiah, and, echoing the prophecies concerning Jesus, blessed Jesus and prayed over him.
It’s quite beautiful. We’re told that Simeon “took Him in his arms, and blessed God and said,
‘Now, Lord, You are letting Your bondservant depart in peace, according to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared in the presence of all the people:
A light for revelation for the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel’” (NKJV).
Jesus went on to fulfill that prediction. He died on the cross for all of our sins, making a way for us to have salvation.
Why babies are dedicated
There are four primary reasons we dedicate babies in the Adventist Church:
- We are thanking God for the miracle of birth. A new life is a very precious thing. The child’s dedication recognizes God’s gift to a family and thanks Him for it.
- We are asking God to bless and guide the child. Growing up is never easy. And while parents can provide a loving home, a Christ-like influence, and as many opportunities for growth as they can, no parents are perfect. What’s more, they won’t be the only influences in their child’s life, and they can’t make all their child’s decisions for them. This special dedication is a solemn prayer to God to guide and protect their child.
- We are dedicating the baby to God. Dedicating is another word for consecrating, which means to set aside. At a baby dedication, parents choose to raise their child with God at the center of their parenting. They promise to make decisions that benefit their child and the faith community, rather than solely being led by their own preferences.
- We are allowing the parents and family to make a public commitment to raise the child to love and follow Jesus. Making a commitment in front of others who care about you just makes it all the more significant and meaningful, and it demonstrates how important this is to you—and to God. It’s a way to involve the whole church family in supporting you in your parental endeavors.
Child dedications are a memorable time for both the parents and the church family. It’s always a beautiful thing to see parents who deeply love their children and want to raise them in a caring faith community.
This ceremony is a way to acknowledge that importance. Parents also want their friends and relatives to share this special time with them, and you’ll often see grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends standing up with them.
As members of the congregation sitting in the audience, we are reminded of our Christian obligation towards this young life being presented up front. We are responsible for our words and actions towards this child. Never should we say or do anything that would discourage them from forming a relationship with Jesus, and becoming the person He wants them to be.
Child dedications have the unique ability to bring together a church family, parents, and relatives in a united effort to bring up a young child as a member of Jesus’ kingdom.
Learn more about Adventist households by visiting our page on
You can also learn more about making a decisive commitment to Jesus by reading
- https://adventist.uk/fileadmin/shared-data/resources/childrens-ministries/CM_Resources/Dedication_Ideas_Information_Booklet.pdf [↵]
- “Child Parent Dedication,” https://www.capitolhillsdachurch.org/contentpages.aspx?p=a3abd2d8-eaf4-4b99-8217-d0109dbe967b [↵]
- “Baby Dedication,” https://victoryny.adventistchurch.org/ministries/special-services/special-services—infant-dedication. [↵]
- “Child Parent Dedication,” https://www.capitolhillsdachurch.org/contentpages.aspx?p=a3abd2d8-eaf4-4b99-8217-d0109dbe967b. [↵]
- MacGregor, Kirk R., A Central European Synthesis of Radical and Magisterial Reform, p.144. [↵]
- “Child Dedication,” Ellen G. White Estate, https://ellenwhite.org/topics/495. [↵]
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