“But Mom, we’re never here for the Baptism by the Bay!” My about to turn 11 year-old was super insistent about getting baptized.
Last spring, she had asked to do the same, but the Christian summer camp she was headed to began the same day as the church summer baptism. She was bummed, but got over it. I wrung my hands over not being able to deliver both experiences on different days and plotted how we could make it happen over the summer while we were away. But then I got over it too.
Fast forward ten months. Our church is teaching all the elementary kids about baptism. What a gift! I am so grateful for how they so clearly shared and explained what it’s all about! Right away, Olaiya came to us and asked if she could be baptized. A baptism was coming on Easter weekend! Hmmm. We stalled. Honestly, we had really cool plans for that same night. Does she really want to get baptized?? Let’s wait and see. And we did. But she kept after us. Was she really ready?
We consulted our campus pastor, hanging out at Noodles and Company after church. So over buttered pasta, Pastor Mike asked Olaiya the straight shooting questions. The most important one was this:
Why do you want to get baptized?
I don’t even know that I had asked her that myself! She replied, “Because I want to tell people that I love Jesus.”
I know he asked her some more questions, along the lines of whether or not she was worried about what her peers would think, etc. but truly, it all boiled down to that one.
Then I asked my pastor’s wife, who is a dear mama friend and leads our kids ministry, about her thoughts. She said, in the Bible when people decided to follow Jesus, and became new believers, the first thing they did was get baptized! This was a step of obedience, not one of complete understanding! Now, when I say “complete understanding”, I’m saying they could not go toe to toe with a Pharisee about their new faith, rocking the apologetics. No. But they did have complete understanding that Jesus was their Savior, the one and only true lover and rescuer of their souls, and they wanted to tell everyone about it with a public declaration.
Truly, I think one of things that most influenced Olaiya happened five years before she got baptized. She saw her dad get baptized. That is powerful stuff. She saw him declare, before a very crowded basement at Ebenezers Coffeehouse, that Jesus is his Savior. If you have never chosen to be baptized, know that your example speaks volumes.
So how do I know if my kid is ready to get baptized? I boil it down to this:
- Let them come to it in their own time. Let the desire be birthed in their hearts! Let them come and ask you…persistently!
- Ask them, “Why do you want to get baptized”? This question is fundamental! Is it because all their friends doing it? Do they think it will please you? Have them share their hearts with you!
- Consult another person that is shepherding them in their walk. Another person’s perspective of your child’s faith could give clarity about their readiness.
Jesus, be with these parents as they shepherd their children to know you. Lord, thank you so much for how you love us and for saving us. Amen.
Tara Lewis is a mama to four girls and teaches preschoolers about Jesus at National Community Church’s Ballston campus. A high school Spanish teacher turned stay-at-home mama, she loves dancing to a good beat, sharing small plates when eating out, and playing catch with a football or a disc, especially with her husband. Tara and her familia live in Alexandria, Virginia.
Note from Crosswalk Kids: Don't miss thisvideo highlighting our kids who were baptized last year at Baptism by the Bay! [wpvideo 0hhD8SDE]