How do I explain the importance of baptism to my child?

What guidance does the Bible provide?

Baptism is a symbol that you want to tell the world that you are a Christ follower! Being baptized is not what makes you saved. Acts 8:35-38 says, "So Philip proceeded to tell him the good news about Jesus, beginning from that Scripture. As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, "Look, there's water! What would keep me from being baptized?" And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart you may." And he replied, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him." Philip told the man about Christ, and he wanted to show everyone that he was choosing to follow Jesus. He asked Philip to baptize him. When we choose to trust Jesus and make Him the Lord of our life, this is what saves us. Baptism is a cool thing that believers do out of obedience to let everyone around them know that they have decided to follow Jesus.

When we follow Jesus, our faith and trust are in Him. Jesus gives us an example to follow; He was baptized by John the Baptist. Matthew 3:13-17 "Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. But John tried to stop Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You (Jesus), and yet You come to me?' Jesus answered him, ‘Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed Him (Jesus) to be baptized. After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water." After Jesus had been baptized, God blessed Him by sending the Holy Spirit down like a dove. "And there came a voice from heaven: ‘This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!" God placed His seal of approval on Jesus' baptism. Christ did this to show us just how important baptism is!

Things to think about:

Some churches participate in infant baptism. Christians, however, believe that baptism should occur when a person has made a conscious choice to put their trust in Christ. In patterning our lives after Christ, we are baptized out of obedience to God. Individuals that have been baptized as infants may be baptized again when they feel that they want to express outwardly that they are following Jesus.

Children may ask questions after friends or family have participated in baptism. Allow them to talk about the reasons they want to be baptized. Clarify their salvation experience and talk about the importance of baptism.

The Bible says in Acts 16:31, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." The way we are saved is by placing our trust and faith in Christ Jesus. Baptism is an action that follows out of reverence and obedience to God. Being baptized does not save you. There is nothing special about the water. Baptism is a picture of salvation; stepping into the water symbolizes that we are sinful. When we go under the water, it represents that our sins were buried with Christ in death. Then when we come up out of the water, it symbolizes that we have been raised with Him to a new life to live with Jesus. The picture of baptism helps us to understand that all the dirty stuff, sins, have been washed away because of Jesus. He died on the cross to take our sin and shame and then raised from the dead on the third day. His life reminds us that one day we will be in heaven with Him!

What do I do now?

Talk to your child about baptism. Why does he or she want to be baptized? Listen closely to their answers to this question; some children may want to get baptized to let others know that they have chosen to follow Jesus. Other children have seen their friends be baptized and want to copy them; this is a sign that they are not ready to be baptized.

If you find that your child is at a point where they are ready to proceed with baptism, this would be a great time to discuss

  • Jesus took away your sins.--When Jesus died on the cross, He died for our sins.
  • What happens if you sin again?--Ask God for forgiveness; Jesus gives us grace and love, even when we mess up.
  • Will you never sin again because you have been baptized?--No, only Jesus lived a sinless life, but we can make wise choices that reflect that we follow Jesus.

Pray blessings over your child and ask God to show favor on them. As a parent, you have the most influence in their life. They need to hear what you think of them and their relationship with God. If your child has not yet decided to follow Christ and acknowledge Him as Savior, praying with them and talking about baptism can lead into a great conversation about what it means to be a Christian. This is a special time to talk to your child about following Jesus and what it looks like to pattern their life after Christ. Their questions about baptism can open conversation doors and even lead to salvation!

Want to go deeper?

This website is a great tool for parents to utilize when preparing to talk about baptism with your child. There are many great scripture references listed along with a description of why baptism is important.

This kid-centered video is helpful to watch with your children. It discusses baptism from a child's perspective and talks about what baptism means for us as followers of Jesus.

Taking a look at determining if your child is ready to be baptized is suggested. This website has several things to talk with your children about when discussing baptism and what it means.

Salvation Kids is a wonderful tool for learning how to talk about the history of baptism, what happens during baptism and what baptism symbolizes with your children. There are several links to children's videos that explain baptism here also.