Helping families to get ready for baptism is more than just rehearsing them for the day. Whether you are meeting for just one session or several times, there are some good ideas to make sure the baptism really is the start of a lifetime of exploring faith at home and with their new church family.
Families are often very worried about the practicalities on the day, anxious about where to stand and what to do, and anxious to avoid embarrassment. Holding a rehearsal is a good way to make sure these questions are answered. Those parents who have been married in church will be familiar with this idea, and it can be a great opportunity to meet others and to pray with the family before the day.
But baptism preparation needs to be more than a rehearsal.
It’s a good idea to help parents think about why they are choosing to have their child baptised. Explore some of their family traditions, their own experiences of faith, whether through school, church clubs or church itself. Talk about what positive memories they have and why they want this for their child.
Remember that friends and family are important, so take time to discover something of their networks, particularly talking about godparents and the qualities they are expecting.
This can lead to a discussion about what values matter to them, which opens up the possibility of a conversation about what difference it will make to them as a family choosing Christian values.
Parents also want to know practical things so try and give some specific ideas about praying with and for a child, what Bible stories to read, how to help children when life doesn’t go well, or when they do something wrong. Talk about how your church involves children and helps them on a journey of faith, teaching them that a loving God is always with them.
Every parish will have its own methods of baptism preparation and your diocese may have guidelines and ideas, but these are just a few examples of resources available:-
We Welcome You – a ready-made, three-part course to help prepare parents and godparents bringing children for baptism. The course has an accompanying DVD which explains to families what happens in a baptism service.