Why ‘christening’?

All recent Church of England materials designed to be given to families to support baptism ministry use the word ‘christening’ as a starting point. Find out why it’s so important and helpful to use the word ‘christening’ when opening conversations with families about baptism.

The first step in the journey of faith can be discovering that ‘baptism’ is what happens at a christening. Church of England resources introduce the word ‘baptism’ as the central event at a christening, in a similar way that a ‘marriage’ happens at a ‘wedding’.

The research findings are very clear – the word most commonly used by families to describe the service of Holy Baptism is a ‘christening’. And, the word ‘christening’ is over 10 times more likely to be used in online searches for information and related products like gifts, than the word ‘baptism’.

Retailers know this too, and almost all related gifts and greetings cards feature the word ‘christening’. This speaks volumes about what is the universally-recognised language.

By speaking in the language with which people are familiar, the conversation is opened. It’s the first step to mutual understanding between the church and family about what is really happening when a child is baptized.

The research confirmed that by ‘christening’, families mean the service which includes water being poured on their child’s head. The water is very important to them. Without the water, the service is not seen as ‘proper’.

The research also revealed:

  • The service is also about the gathering of family for celebration and continuation of family tradition.
  • It is regarded by families with a spiritual seriousness that they perhaps can not put into words – many are already on a faith journey.
  • Parents feel they are making a choice on behalf of their child which is part of giving them the best start in life, which includes the encouragement of godparents and the protection and blessing of God.

So both words are right! As families prepare for this amazing journey of faith which begins on the day, they will have opportunities to explore with you the richness of the symbols and the promises and the welcome into the church…

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