“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty deeds.” Psalm 145:4
I’m writing this on Sunday, and we had a baptism at our church. As a part of the service, the parents, the sponsors and the congregation make promises. We are all charged with seeing that this child is brought up with good Christian instruction and examples. We are to pray for him or her. Here is the reasoning:
“We believe that God gives the gift of faith in baptism, but that this gift will be lost unless the child is taught the Word of God, upheld by prayer and given a Christian example to follow. This is first the responsibility of you parents, then of the sponsors, and the entire congregation. May we remain faithful in this responsibility and privilege.”
Do you get it? This is task belongs to the laity of the church. We are the ones who are to see that the faith is passed on through the generations. I wonder how seriously we take this promise. Too often, babies are baptized because it’s a kind of social or family ritual. We don’t see them again (or not very often) and we just forget about those important promises we made before God, no less. I’m as guilty as anyone, but lately I’ve been thinking about how to do a better job. Here are some of my thoughts:
- We could start a cradle roll program. (This involves purchasing packets with Christian information to be sent to families with young children periodically)
- We can certainly add newly baptized children to our personal and corporate prayers. In fact, we committed to do this by our participation in the baptismal service.
- We can stay in touch with the parents if they do not attend regularly, inviting them to events, and offering babysitting services if that is needed.
Our church is almost 200 years old, and it is humbling to think about the generations who have passed on the message of the faith to their own children and others in this place. Here’s what they had to say in the original Declaration of Principles:
” We take Heaven and Earth as our witnesses of our attachment to Evangelical Christianity and that its extension is our most ardent desire; that it is our wish that the doctrine of Christ’s atonement may be proclaimed to destitute souls here in this place; that we expect our children and our children’s children never to forsake their church, but to be true to it.”
We are links in a chain, a chain that goes back not only 200 years at St. Paul’s, but all the way back to the disciples who walked with Christ. We can’t let His message stop with us. It’s our duty, as lay people in the church to pass it on. We need to take that duty seriously. What are some ways your congregation has found to do this? I would like to hear more ideas.