When I look around at the season we’re in as a church, I am blown away by the kindness and nearness of our Lord. One of the ways the Lord has shown His kindness to us is with a new wave of babies! Oh how we love babies! In His tender mercy God has allowed these children to grow up with Christian parents and to be raised in the context of our church family. This is a gift to us.
Historically at Roots, we have (like many churches) marked this special time in a families life through what we’ve called “baby dedications”. It seems clear to us that the motivation behind baby dedications is to identify and celebrate this moment in a families life by praising the Lord for this precious gift and by praying for the new baby and for mom and dad. Solid motivations indeed!
We can certainly celebrate the motivations behind baby dedications but like we anticipated at the outset of our series through the book of Acts, God’s word continues to challenge all aspects of church life at Roots. This is a good thing! And after some time of thought and internal studies into this relatively recent practice of baby dedications, we (your elders) had to conclude that we really don’t have any New Testament precedent to do it. The examples of baby dedications in the bible (1 Sam 1, Luke 2) are in the case of Samuel, unique in the fulfilling of a vow to the Lord (1 Sam 1:27-28) and in the case of Jesus, obedience to the command of God to consecrate and redeem the firstborn (Num 18:15). Both of these practices belong to the Old Covenant under Moses without any connection to NT practice.
What we do see consistently throughout the Old and the New Testament are “Prayers of Thanksgiving” for all kinds of gifts the Lord gives to His people (2Chron. 5:13; 2Cor. 4:15-16; Eph. 1:15-16; 1Chron. 16:34; Psalm 7:17; Psalm 100:4; 1Thess. 5:18). We see this as a biblically responsible (and appropriate) practice for celebrating the gift of life given to us, while at the same time maintaining our original intent for baby dedications. We’ve just been using the wrong precedent to justify the practice.
So we will continue to publicly celebrate the gift of new babies at Roots. We will continue to pray for moms and dads in our community, but we’ll no longer call them “baby dedications” because of the convictions above. Words matter, biblical precedent matters. From now on, we’ll call these special times “Prayers of Thanksgiving” for the new life the Lord has given our church family.