Baptism is the start of a journey - it is not a destination.
'Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.'
Exodus 14: 21-22
What is Baptism?
The Bible describes the history of how God’s chosen people went from living in slavery to freedom. In order to get to what the Bible calls ‘The Promised Land’ they had 2 famous crossings to make: One through the Red Sea, and the second across the River Jordan.
On both occasions people of every age made the crossing. The very youngest members of the community will have been carried by their parents and others. They would have been too young to make the crossing alone, but their parents wanted their children to travel with them so carried them over.
Baptism - Crossing Over
Baptism has many meanings. In particular it stands as a physical marker for the point at which we choose to cross over from a lifestyle that ignores and rebels against God to a lifestyle that chooses to follow Jesus Christ at every turn. In the Church of England we hope to encourage all of our members to “know the only true God,” (John 17:3). Baptism is one important step in a life long journey.
Christian parents will always want to show their children what it means to be a follower of Christ. This will involve reading the Bible with them, praying with them, and attending church with them. When parents bring their children to be baptised it is to demonstrate that they intend to ‘carry’ their children into the ‘land’ of the Christian life.
How much preparation do I have to do before my child can be baptised?
In the Church of England every priest (vicar) has a responsibility to provide appropriate preparation for parents who wish to have their children baptised. It is up to the individual priest (vicar) to decide exactly what is appropriate for each family.
If you're not already a committed member of the church and are interested in baptising your child the first thing you'll need to do is to choose to follow Jesus and come and join the church. To find out how to become a follower of Jesus, try this website, or even better attend an Alpha Course with us. To join the church, simply turn up at one of our many services, and then keep on coming! In time you may want to give financially or serve in practical ways.
If you wanted your children to visit a family member at the other end of the country you wouldn't drop them off at the train station and hope that they get there; you would travel with them on every step of the journey. In the same way, if you are keen for your child to be baptised (i.e. to start the Christian journey) you will need to walk with them every step of the way.
And Another Example...
Going in to a garage doesn't turn you into a car; but cars do need to go to the garage in order to fill up on fuel, etc. In the same way, going to church doesn't make someone a Christian; but Christians do need to go to church (lots!) in order to feed on the Word of God (the Bible), to encourage one-another in living the Christian life, and to take Holy Communion. In order to be able to make the promises said by parents at baptism you'll need to be committed to doing these things.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I'm still interested in having my child baptised, but I'm not sure that I want to join the church yet?
In the Church of England we have a special service for celebrating the birth of a child. This service is open to everyone (and doesn’t require any preparation on the part of the parents). During the short service we will pray for you and your whole family, and give special thanks to God for the safe arrival of your baby.
If you take the option of having a 'Service of Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child':
- we will make sure that you and your family/friends have a really lovely (personalised) church service
- we won't ask you to make promises that you might not want to keep
- you will always be welcome to ask for a baptism of your child at a later date
Do you charge for these services?
There is no charge for a service of thanksgiving or baptism.
Further Questions? Need to Know More?
If you are unsure of what the best option is for you and your family, we would love to meet you for a chat! Feel free to contact us in order to find out more about; i) baptism of children, ii) baptism preparation, and iii) the service of thanksgiving for a birth of child. Feel free to contact our Ian (the vicar), should you wish to meet him and discuss further.