Many Christian parents feel a deep burden to guide their kids toward trusting and fully following Jesus. At LCBC, we want to help every parent feel equipped to engage in pivotal conversations about faith with their children. Baptism is a significant milestone in a person’s faith journey, and as a parent you may have the opportunity to help your child in the decision to participate!
What is Baptism?
Baptism is a symbolic act in which a person is briefly dunked under water to represent their old life being washed away and emerging as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Before going into the water, the person getting baptized will usually share their story of coming to trust Jesus as their savior. As a whole, baptism is a public statement about an individual’s faith in Jesus.
At LCBC, we believe anyone who has decided to follow Jesus and trust him as their Savior can be baptized. You don’t have to be a certain age, be a Christian for a certain amount of time, or “have it all together.” It’s also important to note that the act of baptism does not forgive our sins. Trusting Jesus is the only way for someone to be forgiven (John 3:16), and baptism is a way to share that decision with the world.
How Do I Talk to My Kid or Teen About Baptism?
This is a great question! Below are 5 tips to help parents confidently engage their children – whether they’re kids, tweens, or teenagers – in a baptism conversation.
1. Don’t force it.
Like many scenarios in parenting, your kid will probably show signs that they’re ready to talk about baptism. If your child recently trusted Jesus or is asking questions about faith, it could be a good time to bring baptism up. Try asking them if they know what baptism is, if they have friends who have gotten baptized, or if they’re thinking about it for themselves. You could also read the story of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17) together and see if that spurs a conversation.
In the meantime, it's never too soon to prepare yourself for the conversation! Start familiarizing yourself with common questions about baptism so you can be a helpful resource for your child.
If your kid doesn’t seem to be into the conversation or doesn’t have much to talk about, it’s okay to put it on pause. Let them know you’re ready to talk when they are, and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on them to decide. As parents, we often want to make things happen for our kids. We want what is best for our kids, and our hearts are often in the right place. But baptism is ultimately about their faith, not ours.
2. Want them to share? Be ready to go first.
Baptism is an exciting step for your kid, but remember it’s also a vulnerable one! When we celebrate Baptism, we hear everyone’s personal story – lots of them are raw, real, and reflect a life in process. Even if their story may be a simple one, it can be challenging to open up about the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that led them to trust Jesus.
That’s why it’s valuable to lead by example in this area. If you’ve trusted Jesus or been baptized, share with your kid why you chose to make that decision in your own faith journey and how you felt going through that experience. Call out your own negative soundtracks and how you’re continuing to overcome them. Of course, there may be no better way to show your child the importance of baptism than by taking that step yourself – no matter how long you’ve been following Jesus.
3. Keep it Simple.
The “why” behind baptism can feel a little murky to your kid, especially when different churches all seem to have a different approach. As you’re answering their questions, it can be helpful to keep your responses simple. (Remember, just because your answer is simple does not mean it’s shallow!) Here are some key truths about Baptism to remember as you’re talking with your kid:
- Our faith was meant to be shared. Baptism is a “stake in the ground” moment where, in front of your church family, you affirm that Jesus is your rescuer and leader. (Romans 6:3-4)
- It’s an opportunity to encourage others with your story. Our personal experiences, including our wrestles, may resonate with others, which can inspire them to pursue a relationship with Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 3:15)
- Jesus did it himself and asks us to do it as well. Baptism is a vivid reminder that you are a “new creation” because of what God has done through Jesus. (Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19)
- Baptism does not save us from our sins. Only a relationship with Jesus can. Baptism is meaningful and symbolic, but it is not a requirement to be saved from our sins and mistakes. Like Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
4. At some point, stop talking.
Remember, your kids and teens need time to process. You may have had more time to think and process about this question than your child has. Be prepared for some awkward silence! If your kid starts opening up about concerns or doubts about Baptism, resist the urge for rebuttal. It’s much more helpful to simply listen and empathize.
5. Remember what Baptism is really about – and what it isn’t.
It can’t be overstated how important it is to make sure your kid has the right idea about baptism. An individual’s relationship with Jesus, love from Jesus, and security with Jesus is not contingent on baptism; the only thing one must do to reconcile with God is believe in and trust Jesus as their Savior (John 3:16). Baptism is a symbolic, outward declaration of that inward reality… not a path to it. It's essential to ensure your kid’s desire to get baptized doesn’t come from a sense of obligation or shame.
We’d love to walk alongside you and your family through this milestone! It doesn’t have to be intimidating – instead, it can be a cause for celebration as your child takes another step toward fully following Jesus. If you have any questions, please reach out to us or check out the resources below:
Trusting Jesus: For parents of kids in kindergarten – 4th Grade
Trusting Jesus: For teens and adults
5 Misconceptions Keeping You From Being Baptized
Starting Point: For parents or caregivers with their own questions about following Jesus
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!