Every year in Karis Church, we give parents the opportunity to stand before the Lord and before the church with their children, declaring that these little ones belong to our God and not to them. They proclaim their intention to raise their children to know and love the Lord. They admit their need for this gospel community to assist them in doing that. This is not a baptism. This event doesn’t in any way save these children. It can’t guarantee that will even happen in the future. This is a time for believers in Christ, members of Karis Church, to say, “Lord, these kids are Yours. We dedicate them to You. Help us raise them inside Your church to know and love Jesus." In May, we celebrated as 15 children were presented for dedication by their parents during both our 9am Gathering and our 11am Gathering.
Charge to the parents
As the parents presented their children, they expressed heartfelt belief that their daughters and sons belong to the Lord, and not ultimately to them, as well as their desire that, by God’s grace, their children would come to worship God through Jesus. The parents were asked and affirmed each of these charges:
Parents, as followers of Jesus who profess repentance toward God and faith in Christ, do you comprehend your deep dependence upon Him and the fellowship of His church to live a life grounded in the gospel and to serve as godly parents?
Do you today recognize this child as His gift and give heartfelt thanks for God’s blessing?
Do you promise, in God’s strength, to live gospel-transformed lives before your child, leading him or her in the mission of God?
Do you pledge as parents that, by God’s grace and for His glory, you will bring up your child “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” making every reasonable eﬀort, with patience and love, to build the Word of God, and the gospel of Jesus, into his or her life?
Do you promise to provide, through God’s blessing, for the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs of your child, looking to your own heavenly Father for the wisdom, love and strength to do so?
Do you promise to make it your regular prayer that, by His grace, your child will be brought to repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that your daughter or son will walk in the fellowship of His church for as long as she or he lives?
Do you now dedicate your children to the Lord who gave them to you all, surrendering all worldly claims upon their lives in the hope that they will belong wholly to God?
Charge to the church
As members of God’s family, His church, we share a responsibility both to these parents and their children. We are called to encourage and challenge them by our words and our example as they strive to teach their children the way of the gospel. We are to be a healthy church that will provide a vibrant, loving context in which they may raise their daughters and sons. With the help of the Lord, we accept this responsibility to love and care for these parents and their children, providing encouragement and help to them as they seek to raise their sons and daughters in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
This excerpt from the prayer Aarik prayed during the dedication we repeat today and each day as these children grow:
God, You are the giver of life. Every breath that we have comes from You and, as we bear witness to these little lives, it is clear that You knew them before we did, that You brought them into being. We are reminded that no grace from You is deserved. It is all mercy and all to be received with thanksgiving. Lord, it has been such a blessing to watch You at work in each of these families. Seeing You preparing these parents for this moment before they - or we - even knew that was what You were doing. We are blown away and we are indeed grateful.
We pray these little ones would come to see and know You as faithful. God, on whatever day and in whatever time You will, draw these children to Yourself and help them to trust Christ alone for their salvation and righteousness. Help them to grow up into Your goodness, to give their lives to the church and to become men and women who find their deepest satisfaction in You.
Lord, do the work that You need to in us that we would watch over these children, instruct them, encourage them, assist them, protect them and encourage Your grace in them. God, may these children not be disheartened or turned off by what they see as they grow up in the church. Instead, help them to see in us people who have been redeemed and who are living out Your love in tangible ways. May we be evidence of You to these little ones.
Lord, we love You and we are so grateful for the way You choose to bless us. Make us good stewards of these blessings. And we pray in Christ’s name who makes it so, amen.