The Church contains infants and young children, and the children in Mars Hill households are part of the visible Church. Although our youngest children are unable to give a profession of faith like their parents, they are still current participants in our local Church body based on the membership of their parents to Mars Hill (1 Cor 7). At Mars Hill, children are not admitted to the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper until they are old enough to give a profession of faith. However, this does not mean that our children are aliens to Christ’s Church or outsiders to the promises of Christ because they are unable to respond in the same way as adults do. As Peter said, this“ promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:39)
Mars Hill Church offers Baby Dedications to its members because we believe that our children are part of Christ’s Church. Baby Dedications allows our local Church to corporately receive our children into God’s Church in a way that sets them apart from all other peoples and alien religions, so that they may be dedicated with us entirely to Christ Jesus, and to identify our children with us as being unified in bearing the mark and sign of Christ (cf. Belgic Confession article 34).
Baby Dedications is not an ends in itself, and it does not save any child, because salvation is by grace alone through faith (Eph 2:8-10). Baby Dedications should not be confused with Jesus’ Dedication in the temple, or with Baptism, and they are not taught by scripture nor do they have a long history in Church tradition. The purpose of Baby Dedications is to corporately identify the children in Mars Hill households, so that they may be recognized as part of our particular local Church body, and so that everyone in our local Church may receive them in prayer and thanksgiving. Baby Dedications is only a first step in gospel-powered parenting, and this is a life-long process that consists of preaching and teaching our children the gospel in our homes daily, and much more than a one-time celebratory event.
If you are a Mars Hill member or in the membership process, and would like to dedicate your child, please click here. If you’d like to learn more about the membership process at Mars Hill Church, click here.
This post was written by Deacon Wyatt Houtz, who serves as a community group coach and is an Elder candidate at Mars Hill Bellevue.