The word "dedicate" means to set aside or commit to a sacred purpose. The dedication means committing a child to God and God’s purposes. In one sense, this is what every Christian parent wants to do, but in another sense, parents can’t actually make this decision on behalf of their children – as much as they might wish to! Each child will one day have to make his or her own personal decision about whether or not to commit himself or herself to God. Parents can guide, teach, pray for, and lead their children, but parents cannot choose a life path for their child. So even though we speak of dedicating the child to the Lord, dedication is really a matter of parents dedicating themselves to the Lord. With that in mind, we see two primary purposes for dedication:
- For parents, joined by their church family, to celebrate the birth or adoption of a child, joyfully thanking God for this new addition to the family and to the church community.
- For parents to commit themselves publicly to raise their child in the nurture and love of the Lord, and for the church to pray for them in their awesome responsibility as parents.