Baptisms at St. John’s


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"I want my baby baptised because:

  1. they don't come on proper unless they've been done."

  2. I want the best start in life for my child, and christening is part of that."

  3. I was christened, and it didn't do me any harm."

  4. I'm a Christian, and I want my child to be seen to belong to Christ."

  5. I don't believe in infant baptism, but it'll keep the grandparents happy until she can have believers' baptism."

  6. I'm not really religious, but Gran wants to use the family christening gown."


They're all real quotations, and there's only one where we tried to dissuade the parents. (We'll leave you to guess which one.)


Parents want their children baptised (or christened, it's the same thing) for many reasons. Some are close to what the church teaches about baptism, while others are pretty far away from it.

This poses a bit of a problem.

Christians believe that baptism is the sign of being joined to Christ, of beginning a life as a disciple of Jesus, and joining the church. It's a serious step, which makes demands of faith and commitment. Yet for many people that doesn't seem to play a big part in their thinking. It's said that about one person in ten claims to go to church, while one in three have their children baptised.


These days, churches tend to come up with one of three types of response:

  1. 1. Do it anyway, with no questions asked, and no demands made, because if someone doesn't go to church, they must be Church of England.

    This is the church being hypocritical. If we believe it's important, we really ought to let people know what it's about.

  2. 2. Say no, unless you're a church member, because baptism is about serious discipleship.

    This one makes sense, but all that is heard by those requesting baptism is a rejection. Anyhow, despite some of the reasons quoted above, most baptism applications come from those who have some contact with Christianity, and want in some way to mark their child's arrival with something spiritual.

  3. 3. A variation is to offer a thanksgiving, and leave baptism for later reflection.

    On the other hand, it's easy for some to confuse thanksgivings and christening, and few seem to want just the thanksgiving anyway.

  4. 4. A middle approach, which is what we try to do.


Our process is:

  1. Initial contact followed by a visit by the minister to explain the process. Dates are booked.

  2. A thanksgiving service in the context of morning worship. This provides a special event for the parents, and allows a fuller expression of thanksgiving than is possible in the baptism.

  3. Attendance at church (strongly requested, but not mandatory) until the date of the baptism, which is also in a main Sunday service. We explain that this allows parents to experience worship and hear something of what Christians believe and try to put into practice. It also makes them more at ease at the baptism service and allows them and their local Christian community to get to know each other.


This process is applied to all baptismal candidates, whether or not their families are regular worshippers.


We find as a result that about quite a few families continue to worship with us, and to grow in faith. Even when they don't, they know who we are, what we do, and that we are basically friendly, which is no bad thing.

 

Welcoming babies into the Christian family

Christians believe that baptism is the sign of being joined to Christ, of beginning a life as a disciple of Jesus, and joining the church.


It's a serious step, which makes demands of faith and commitment.


Yet for many people that doesn't seem to play a big part in their thinking. It's said that about one person in ten claims to go to church, while one in three have their children baptised.