Baptism service activities — Ana Gobledale, UK

Baptism services often include several children in the congregation, and I want them to be involved and interested.  So, I often incorporate into the service a reflection/activity which includes group participation.

I ask a group of volunteers, ideally children and youth, to come forward.  (The number of volunteers corresponds to the number of letters in the theme word being used.  This is explained below.)  I explain that they will not have to say anything.  Little children can help, also, accompanying a parent or older child.  Adults can fill in when there are not enough willing children.

Each volunteer receives a giant letter from the theme word and is asked to hold it, hidden, facing their stomach.  When the letter is called out, the person holding the matching letter turns it around and holds it up high for all to see.  They can lower it to neck level, still facing out, when the next letter is held high.  At the end of the reflection, the theme word appears for all to see.

Theme words:

A theme word provides the focus, with each letter of the word being used to start a phrase or word related to the theme.  Ministering in a large urban congregation, we had baptisms almost every month, so I varied the theme word to keep the congregation interested.

The theme word can vary:

  • PARENT (Celebrating Parents)
  • POSITIVE (Being a Positive example)
  • EXAMPLE (Being a positive Example)

 Complete Scripts

Attached below are ready-to-use scripts for each of the Theme Words listed above.  These have been tried and tested to the delight of baptism families and the congregation.

 

Leader:

I need some children to help me out, 6 to be exact. You will not need to say anything. (Provide as much explanation as necessary until the required number of volunteers stand at the front.)

[Give each child/volunteer a giant letter to hold, in the correct spelling order, first letter on left.  Be sure they hold it hidden close to their chest, to start.]

 

To congregation:

In the Bible, Paul urges the Christians in Corinth to be good examples to others, to be a positive parental model of good values and loving and mature behaviour, both in public and behind closed doors. (Cor 1:11)

Using the word PARENT as our guide, I’ve gathered some parenting and god-parenting wisdom to share.  So, thinking about parenting, I have had a bit of fun with the word PARENT.  My great crew of volunteers will be helping out.

 

So how can we be great parents for our children?

 

What is the first letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: P.  If they are hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.  Have some fun with this.  Then child holding that letter turns it around and holds it up high for all to see.]

P – P is for Prayer.  Pray for your child, to see God in your child and in every child, and pray for yourself to be the best parent you can be.  P is for…Pray.

Option:  P – is for Present: Be Present. As it says in Deuteronomy (31:6), “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  P is for… Present.

 

What is the next letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: A.  If they are hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.]

A – is for Affirmation: children need to know they are loved.  Matthew reminds us to affirm in others a good character, skills and gifts.  (Matthew 3:17)    A – is for Affirmation.

 

What is the next letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: R.]

R – is for Reasonable:  set Reasonable limits. As Proverb suggests, establish good and clear boundaries. (Proverbs 16:25) And in those moments when you are not reasonable, apologize.  Help your child know that sometimes you get it wrong, and sometimes you have to say sorry and make things right again.   R – is for Reasonable.

 

What is the next letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: E.]

E – is for Example – Be a good example for your children.  Paul urges the Corinthians to model good values and loving and mature behaviour, both in public and behind closed doors. (Corinthians 1:11)  E – is for Example.

 

What is the next letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: N.]

N – is for Nice!   Be nice, be decent to your children. Extravagantly show your children the love you have for them. Even when disciplining them, be considerate. Regardless of the choices they make, show them love.

Option:   N – is for Now.  Live in the Now!  Don’t wait.  Be present for your child Now, today, in this moment.  Extravagantly demonstrate the love you have for them – by listening, by looking them in the eye, by turning off your mobile, by turning off the computer, by getting down on the floor and playing or cuddling up with a book, when you really would rather be doing something else.  Now is the only time we have with our children.  Don’t miss it.  N—is for now.

 

What is the last letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: T. ]

T – is for Teach.   Teach your child right from wrong, especially from your own example.  Be a good role model. Proverbs urges parents to teach your child to be a loving and generous human being, equipped to one day leave home with good skills, abilities, values and responsibilities (Proverbs 22:6)

Option:  T – if for Training: Proverbs urges parents to equip train your child to be a loving and generous human being, equipped to one day leave home with good skills, abilities, values and responsibilities (Proverbs 22:6)

Don’t leave this responsibility for others, but share it with others.  Share it with teachers at school, at church, at the sports centre.  Share it with doctors and nurses.  Teach your child so that they know how to nurture their mind, their body and their soul.  T – is for Teach.

 

So, what must we remember as parents?…

 

A Parent … [Point to each letter being held.  Pause long enough for the congregation to call out the word.]

  • A parent? ……Prays   /  Option:   A Parent is… Present
  • A parent? ……Affirms
  • A parent is? ……Reasonable
  • A parent sets a good … Example
  • A parent lives in the … Now, and  /  Option:    A parent is … Nice
  • A parent? …… Teaches their children.    / Option:  A parent … Trains their children.

 

May you, as parents of these children, and all parents gathered here today, faithfully step up to the responsibility with which God has entrusted you, and turn to the godparents and others whenever your task of parenting seems daunting.  You are not alone.

 

A big thank you to you children who have been brave and helped me out up here.  Please place your letter face-up on the floor (or lean against wall) so we can still see the word.  Thank you.  You may return to where you were sitting.

If many of the children volunteers are visitors to the congregation, presenting each with a simple thank-you gift can be appropriate, e.g. a simple bookmark about the church or with a Bible reading on it.

POSITIVE –  full script

Leader:  We’re going to consider the word “positive” this morning/afternoon.  In the Bible, Paul urges the Christians in Corinth to be good examples to others, and to their children, to be a positive model of good values and loving and mature behaviour, both in public and behind closed doors. (Corinthians 1:11).  Your child or godchild will follow your example, not your advice.  So using POSITIVE as our guide, I’ve gathered some parenting and god-parenting wisdom to share.

I need eight (8) children/volunteers to help me up here in the front.  You will not need to say anything. (Provide as much explanation as necessary until the required number of volunteers stand at the front.)

[Give each child a giant letter to hold, in the correct spelling order, first letter on left.]

So, thinking about being positive examples for our children, I have had a bit of fun with the word POSITIVE.

My great crew of volunteers will be helping out.

To congregation:

What is the first letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: P.  If they are hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.  Have some fun with this.]

P –P is for Pray.  Pray for your child, to see God in your child and in every child, and pray for yourself to be the best parent you can be.  P is for…Pray.

 

What is the second letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: O.  If they are still hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.  Have some fun with this.]

O – O is for Open.  Openly apologize.  Openly make amends.  (I think I wanted this one to be an A!)  Open yourself to humility, and show you child that sometimes you get it wrong, and sometimes you have to say sorry and make things right again.  O is for…open.

 

What is the third letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: S.]

S – is for Spend.  Not just spend money, but spend TIME.  Spend time with your child.  Pay attention to your child.  Listen to your child.  S is for…spend. 

 

What is the fourth letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: I.]

I – is for Involve.  Involve you child in doing good.  Involve your child in thinking about how you and your family can help others.  We involved our children in our tithing – as for our church offering, they would often put the envelope in the collection plate.  And also each Friday when my son and daughter were young, we would decide as a family where we would make a special gift that week – their suggestions were taken seriously from Save the Whales to Christian Aid gifts for children in a country at war, to a teddy bear for the children’s ward at the local hospital. [Give examples from your own experience.]  Find ways to involve your children in giving and doing good.  I is for…involve

 

What is the fourth letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: T.]

T – is for Teach.   Teach your child right from wrong, especially from your own example.  Be a good role model. T is for…teach.

 

What is the fifth letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: I.]

I – is for Inspire.  Inspire your child to be creative and curious.  Inspire your child to gaze at God’s boundless creation and wonder.  Inspire your child to dream and to explore.  I is for…inspire

 

What is the sixth letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: V.]

V – is for Vote.  Vote.  Vote for your child to ensure them fair opportunities.  Vote for the world’s children to ensure them safe water and a safe night’s sleep.  Model civic responsibility to your child so they grow up with a sense of responsibility, not just to themselves, but for others.  V is for….Vote.

 

What is the seventh letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: E.]

E – is for Educate.  Educate your child in mind, body and soul.  Don’t leave this responsibility for others, but share it with others.  Share it with teachers at school, at church, at the sports centre.  Share it with doctors and nurses.  Educate your child so that they know how to nurture their mind, their body and their soul.   E is for … Educate.

 

So, what must we remember about being positive examples to our children?…  What do the letters stand for?

[Point to each letter being held.  Pause long enough for the congregation to call out the word. Insert helpful clues, words or phrases that can help the congregation remember the word.  Make it easy, not a test.  Help the congregation succeed.]

  • P is for  …. Pray.
  • O …be … Open. 
  • S … Spend  TIME
  • I … be … Involved.  I
  • T is for … Teach.   Teach your child
  • I is for  …  Inspire. 
  • V is for….Vote.
  • E  is for … Educate.  

Proverbs urges parents to equip train your child to be a positive loving and generous human being, equipped to one day leave home with good skills, abilities, values and responsibilities (Proverbs 22:6).  This you will do through your own good POSITIVE example.  May you, parents all, faithfully step up to the responsibility with which God has entrusted you, and turn to the godparents and others whenever your task of parenting seems daunting.  You are not alone.

 

To volunteers:  Thank you for helping me out.  Please place your letter face-up on the floor (or lean against the wall) so we can still see the word.  Thank you.  You may return to your seats.

 

If many of the children volunteers are visitors to the congregation, presenting each with a simple thank-you gift can be appropriate, e.g. a simple bookmark about the church or with a Bible reading on it.

Leader:  

I need seven (7) children/volunteers to help me up here in the front.  You will not need to say anything. (Provide as much explanation as necessary until the required number of volunteers stand at the front.)

[Give each child a giant letter to hold, in the correct spelling order, first letter on left.]

In the Bible, Paul urges the Christians in Corinth to be good examples to others, and to their children, to model good values and loving and mature behaviour, both in public and behind closed doors. (Corinthians 1:11)  Your child will follow your example, not your advice.  So using EXAMPLE as our guide, I’ve gathered some parenting wisdom to share.

So, thinking about being positive examples for our children, I have had a bit of fun with the word EXAMPLE.

My great crew of volunteers will be helping out.

 

To congregation:

What is the first letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: E.  If they are hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.  Have some fun with this.  When they say it, have the child holding that letter, turn it over and hold it up high.  ]

 

E is for…   Easy does it.  Don’t make life too complicated.

[Have child lower the letter to in front of their chest, and have them continue to hold it there so it can be seen.]

 

What is the second letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: X.  If they are hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.  Keep it fun.]

X is for…  X stands for Kiss.  Remember kisses and hugs.

 

What is the third letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: A.]

A is for…  Attitude:  The Attitude you have as a parent is what your children will learn from, more than what you tell them.  So have a positive and encouraging attitude.

 

What is the fourth letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: M]

M is for… Motivate:  Motivate your child with encouragement and love, without pressurizing them.  In the Bible, Matthew reminds us to affirm in others a good character, skills and gifts (Matt 3:17)

 

What is the fifth letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: P.]

P is for…  Power:  your words have great Power, use them wisely

 

What is the sixth letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: L.]

L for…  Laugh – remember to Laugh out loud in your home and with your children.

 

What is the seventh letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: E]  Yes, another E.

E for…  Everlasting – May your love for your child be like God’s love for you, everlasting.  Even when they disappoint you and you feel ready to disown them, may your love endure, and be Everlasting.

 

Proverbs urges parents to equip train your child to be a loving and generous human being, equipped to one day leave home with good skills, abilities, values and responsibilities (Proverbs 22:6).  This you will do through your own good EXAMPLE.  May you, parents all, faithfully step up to the responsibility with which God has entrusted you, and turn to the godparents and others whenever your task of parenting seems daunting.  You are not alone.

So, what must we remember about being positive examples to our children?…  What do the letters stand for?

[Point to each letter being held.  Pause long enough for the congregation to call out the word. Insert helpful clues, words or phrases that can help the congregation remember the word.  Make it easy, not a test.  Help the congregation succeed.]

  • E is for… Easy does it.
  • X is for…. Kiss
  • A is for … Attitude … have a positive attitude
  • M is for … Motivate
  • P is for  … Power… remember the power of your words
  • L is for… laugh
  • E  is for … Everlasting… Have everlasting love.  

To volunteers:  Thank you for helping me out.  Please place your letter face-up on the floor (or lean against the wall) so we can still see the word.  Thank you.  You may return to your seats.

If many of the children volunteers are visitors to the congregation, presenting each with a simple thank-you gift can be appropriate, e.g. a simple bookmark about the church or with a Bible reading on it.