Baptism

For Your Child

Christian baptism is clearly commanded by Jesus Christ for all of God’s people from infants to

the aged. (Mt. 28:19, Acts 2:38, Jn. 3:5-6, Acts 2:38-39, Mt. 19:13-15) Baptism is more

than “Christening” (giving a Christian name). It is a Sacrament of God. In and through

baptism God grants forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16), provides spiritual regeneration (Titus

3:4-5) and gives eternal salvation (Mk 16:16, 1 Pt. 3:21). Because it is commanded by Christ,

and through it God does these marvelous things, Christian parents want to bring their children

to the Lord through Baptism as soon as possible.

 

When Christian parents bring their child to be baptized, they are saying that they acknowledge

that their child - like themselves - is born in sin and therefore needs the love and

forgiveness that God offers to all mankind (John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 15:3); they are submitting to the command of Jesus to baptize “all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20); and they hold to the promise that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Therefore, they bring their child to be baptized so that he or she can receive the needed salvation that God offers through this means of grace (1 Peter 3:21).

 

Because parents may need help in raising their child as a Christian, and because parents due to

death or incapacity may not be able to carry through on the responsibilities, the church has

adopted the practice of having Christian sponsors to help the parents and to have someone

available “just in case.”

 

Some parents give little thought or concern to choosing sponsors for the child’s baptism. They

may choose someone as a sponsor to: Honor a relative or a friend, pay off a debt of gratitude,

keep both families involved, maintain old ties, establish new contact, provide a generous

godfather, etc. But there are more important reasons for selecting sponsors - reasons that are

as old as the church itself.

 

The idea of sponsors arose when Christians were being persecuted for their faith. Christian

parents knew that they might not live long enough to see their children raised, and therefore

they sought out concerned and confessing Christians to stand by, “just in case.” They wanted

their child to be brought up as a Christian and not to revert to paganism. Therefore they

looked, as parents should today, for:

 

1. Concerned people - people who cared about children and their continuing spiritual

growth.

2. Confessing people - people who “stood up for their faith” and were not just members in

name only.

3. Faithful people - people who believed in the Sacrament of Baptism and placed the

relationship of faith in Christ Jesus above all other values providing the child with the

example of a life of faithfulness in Christ and His Church.

4. Mature people - physically and spiritually mature people who could “parent” a child

through the early stages of life.

5. Able people - people who could reasonably be expected to be alive during the child' s

adolescent years and be physically capable of carrying out the duties of a sponsor.

 

As you choose the sponsors for your child, remember too that you are asking someone -

1. To be a witness (a) to the fact of your child’s Baptism (b) to state publicly that by Baptism

your child obtains and possesses the saving faith in the one true God and renounces the

devil.

2. To pray for your child;

3. To remind your child periodically of his baptism; and

4. To say “yes” to the following question asked by the Pastor during the service:

 

P From ancient times the Church has observed the custom of appointing sponsors for

baptismal candidates and catechumens. [In the Evangelical Lutheran Church sponsors are

to confess the faith expressed in the Apostles' Creed and taught in the Small Catechism.]

They are, whenever possible, to witness the Baptism of those they sponsor. They are to

pray for them, support them in their ongoing instruction and nurture in the Christian faith,

and encourage them toward the faithful reception of the Lord's Supper. They are at all

times to be examples to them of the holy life of faith in Christ and love for the neighbor.

The pastor address the sponsors.

P Is it your intention to serve [name(s) of candidate(s)] as sponsors in the Christian faith?

R Yes, with the help of God.

P God enable you [both] to will and to do this faithful and loving work and with His grace

fulfill what we are unable to do.

C Amen.

 

QUESTIONS

What is the difference between a “sponsor” and a “witness?”

Sponsors (sometimes referred to as “Godparents”) are a person or persons selected by the

parents to testify to the child or others that the child has received a proper baptism; to assist in

the spiritual education of the child (particularly if the child should lose his or her parents); and

to pray for the child. It is an honor and a privilege to be chosen as a sponsor and a great

responsibility. In order to carry out the responsibility with a clear conscience, the sponsor

should be of the same religious convictions as the parents. For this reason we suggest that you

limit your choice of sponsors to Lutheran Christians with whom we are in church fellowship -

and of course who are active and regular in their church membership.

 

We would differentiate between sponsors and witnesses by saying a witness’ basic

responsibility is to testify to the fact that the child received a proper baptism. Therefore, we

do not ask the witness to “bring the child up in the true knowledge and worship of God” since

there may be disagreement on just what that is, nor do we ask the witness to instruct “the child

to come to the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood” since some Christians do not believe

that Christ is really present in the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, there is no conscience conflict

for the sincere Christian of another denomination. We ask, however, that you limit your

choice of witnesses to sincere practicing Christians who do not have scruples against infant

and child baptism. Those who are delinquents, non-Christians, etc., are not suitable witnesses

for the baptism of your child.

 

Are sponsors or witnesses absolutely necessary?

No! Sponsors and witnesses are a custom of the church, not a requirement of God. The

congregation, and particularly the Elders of the congregation, stand ready to testify and to

assist the parents as required.

 

Must a person be present to be a sponsor?

It is preferable, but not absolutely necessary. If a person meets the requirements, understands

the responsibility, and states their willingness, they can be recorded as a sponsor even if time

and distance prevent their presence.

 

When should I inform the pastor and church office?

As soon as you know the date. Information needed is the child’s complete name (as you spell it), the birth date and place, parents’ full names (maiden also), and the names of the sponsors - for the records. At Immanuel, we will gladly do a baptism at any public service; we do celebrate the Lord’s Supper on 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays, so if you are trying to avoid a longer service, please keep that in mind. We encourage baptisms to be in regular worship; however if the situation require a private baptism please speak to one of the pastors.