Upcoming Parent Commissioning

As a family of believers centered on the gospel, we are committed to supporting families and faith. And at the last Sunday of this month, on Sunday, February 26, we invite parents with young children to a one-week class on the importance of raising children in the context of the local church. What can a parent expect from the church? How does the church encourage and equip parents and children to grow in faith?

These are some of the questions that will be answered at this class, as we prepare for a Parent Commissioning Service on Sunday March 5. In what follows, we invite you to read and learn more about this tradition and our practice at Occoquan Bible Church.

Parent Commissioning (Sunday, March 5)
God is the Author of Life, and we rejoice to see the Lord’s grace as He adds children to our families! It is good for our church family to celebrate and give thanks together for children are a gift from the Lord (Ps 127-128), and we are glad to share in one another’s joy (Lk 1:58; 1 Cor 12:26). Because of this, we are glad to introduce little ones to our church family, and pray for our new parents and the futures of their children. This is a special moment in the discipleship of our families. But instead of this being a child dedication, with a focus on the child; it is a parent commissioning, with a focus on the believing father and mother.

We pray for and commission our parents, that they would be faithful to raise their children up in the Lord. And we pray for our little ones, that they would grow up to love and trust our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why is this not Child Dedication?
Child dedication is a church tradition wherein parents bring their newborn children before the church to celebrate God’s gift of life, for prayer, and to dedicate their children to the
Lord. However, this tradition of dedicating a little one under one’s care is not found or prescribed in the Bible. More often than not, the ceremony of child dedication is a tradition belonging to Baptist churches as an opportunity for parents to bring their infants before the congregation for prayer in lieu of infant baptism.

(We practice believer’s baptism by immersion, and do not sprinkle infants. For more about our commitment to believer’s baptism, see Pastor David’s blogpost on baptism in John 3).

As we think about child dedication, it’s necessary to consider what it is. To dedicate one’s child to the Lord is to set apart a child unto the Lord. If you look for biblical examples of child dedication, you will find how Hannah gave away her firstborn son Samuel to serve the Lord at the Tabernacle (1 Sam 1), or perhaps the Old Covenant sacrifices that would be offered after a child was born (Lev 12, Lk 2). But these are not present applications for us as we live in the New Covenant. In this way, the term child dedication can become confusing or misleading.

Can parents truly set apart their children to the Lord in such a way that it has an impact on their future? We believe that salvation is by grace through faith, and we are not recipients of it because another “dedicated” us to the Lord. No ritual performed by us can affect repentance and faith in our children’s hearts. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace alone, and not a fruit of child dedication. Along the same lines, we do not believe that our children will belong to God any more after child dedication than they already belonged to Him before. Truly, all things belong to Him (Ps 50). To avoid this confusion, we find it gives greater clarity to simply recognize the important role our parents have to raise their children up in the Lord as they pass the truths of the gospel to the next generation (Ps 78; Eph 6). This we gladly do as we pray for parents and the discipleship of their little ones at our Parent Commissioning.

Our Next Parent Commissioning
OBC will be offering our next Parent Commissioning on Sunday, March 5 during Great
Commission Prayer. (Great Commission Prayer is a special time of prayer with our church family during the 9:00am Sunday School hour on the first Sunday of each month). At this time we will invite you, your spouse, and your child up before the congregation to introduce your child and to pray for you and your family. Parent Commissioning can also be arranged for future months during a Great Commission Prayer time.

Parenting 101 on February 26
For those who would like to participate in Parent Commissioning this March, OBC offers a one-hour Parenting 101 class. This is an opportunity for us to invest gospel truths in you and your family as we seek to raise our children up in the Lord. Our next Parenting 101 will be held on Sunday, February 26, at 9:00am in Room 5 downstairs (across the hall from the restrooms).

Please RSVP to the church office (admin@obc.org) if you would like to attend Parenting 101
 (Feb 26) and participate in our next Parent Commissioning (Mar 6).

Benjamin Purves