This post concludes a series of posts on developing a systematic approach to following up with children and their families after infant baptism. In the first part, I talked about the need for such an approach. Then I started outlining it in the second part and third part .
This approach presents regular reminders to both parents and the child of the meaning of baptism and celebrates the fact that the child has been baptized and is loved by God. It also contributes to the spiritual formation of the child as he or she grows year by year and moves closer to confirmation.
Every year until the child participates in confirmation, in the days leading up to the child’s baptismal anniversary I send a letter marking the occasion. I also include an age-appropriate gift, like a children’s book, a DVD, or music about the faith. I address the letter to the parents for those children under five, and to the children themselves for ages five to 12. While a method like this one does require a little work on the part of the pastor as well as possibly certain lay leaders of the congregation, I have found that this is a good way to keep before the family and the child the meaning of baptism and to remind the parents of the promise they made to God during the baptism to do all they can to raise their child in the faith.
Below is an example of the letter that I send for children ages 10 to 12, as they approach the age when they are ready for confirmation. Any pastor can use or adapt this letter as appropriate.
On September 4, 2005 something very special happened: you were baptized! On your baptismal anniversary, I am writing to remember your baptism and talk about what it means. Baptism is a sign of how much God loves us. In baptism we become part of the Church, we are united to Jesus our Lord, and we are claimed by God. Baptism is God’s gift to us, giving us new birth through water and the Holy Spirit.
I hope you’ll always remember that God loves you so much—more than I can even say—and has a wonderful plan for your life.
I’m also writing to tell you that you need to make a personal response to the love of God known through your home and church by deciding to follow Jesus. You will have the opportunity to learn to do this by joining the church’s Confirmation Class (which can be done at or after the age of 12).
God will never leave you or forsake you. God promises to take care of us always, and to give us a future with hope. I encourage you to live for God because that is the best way to live. Through Jesus Christ, you’ll experience the greatest joy, peace, love, and fulfillment possible; that is the secret to a wonderful life! We at the church are here to help you discover the special life that God made you to live.
May God bless you, Masen!