There are many times when working with kids I am faced with the ever- present question “Why?” It is truly their favorite question to ask. If they see something unfamiliar to them they do not hesitate to ask. And lets be honest, even after an amazing thought out explanation they still ask, “Why?” It is during these moments that we get to participate in and benefit from their wonder and curiosity.
One of the most recent questions we were asked, within our kids ministry was, “Why do people get baptized?” We had spent a whole lesson talking about Jesus’ baptism, which led into our main service having baptisms the following Sunday. So their interest was peaked and they wanted to know more.
It is not uncommon for children to witness something like a baptism celebration service and wonder what it means. By its very nature, baptism needs to be explained, because of its symbolic qualities. The challenge may come when your child is asking questions, and you have the opportunity to explain its meaning in such a way that they can understand. And yet you may feel inadequate to answer their questions. Here is my brief explanation of baptism biblically and practically. Hope this helps you when responding to your child.
- It is imperative that your child understands that baptism does not save. It is only faith in Jesus that saves (Eph. 2:8)
- Baptism is a picture of what has already happened in someone’s heart through believing in Jesus (An outward expression of an inward change) (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 9:18)
- Baptism tells us of how Jesus rescued us from our sin through His death and resurrection (Romans 6:3,4)
It is important that after explaining it through a biblical lens, that you move to what actually happens on a Sunday morning or the practical part of what they are seeing.
- Before someone is baptized they get a chance to share a brief testimony (story) of God’s saving work in their lives, so that the rest of the family of God may rejoice in God’s grace.
- Before someone is baptized and they are standing in the water, that represents their life before trusting in Jesus. Sin being their master.
- When they are dunked into the water, that represents that they are dead to sin when they became a believer. They now follow Jesus and not sin.
- When that person comes out of the water that represents the newness of life because of Jesus. They have been washed clean, and forgiven not because of the water, but because of the cross of Jesus and the forgiveness that is found there.
The thing that we must remember when we are explaining something like baptism, is that we are explaining it to children. We must use illustrations that meet them where they are at. To bring the proverbial cookie jar down to where they can reach, grasp and understand. One of my favorite illustrations to use is a batman analogy. We have all seen the batman symbol shinning in the sky at night when Gotham city needs Batman’s help. But we all know when we see that figure in the sky that it is not really Batman. Its a symbol. What it does is it points to the actual person Batman. In the same way baptism is not the actual saving work of Jesus, but it points to what has already happened in the life of the believer. The symbol of baptism points to the person of Jesus, His death and resurrection.
Baptism services are some of my favorites experiences, because we get to come together as a family and rejoice. It is one of those moments where we get to celebrate ones journey of how Jesus got a hold of their lives and did the miraculous work of salvation, redemption and reconciliation. Let us help our children see the amazing grace of what happens when Jesus transforms lives and that they too can participate if they choose to follow Jesus.