Some easy ideas for churches to try if they’re not sure what to do with all the kids in a baptism service.
- Treasure hunt
Give children a photo sheet of key places in the church that feature in the baptism service (ewer, font, candle, oil stock, shell, hands applauding, hymn book (or organ/piano/band) etc in roughly the order that they occur, and ask the children to keep watching to spot each one as it happens
Give all the children pencils, and ask them to doodle on their service sheet all the way through the service – encourage them to draw what they see, hear and feel. You can ask them to focus on what they think are the best bits or the most important bits – and try and pick out some words that sound really important, and illustrate those.
- Involve children in the liturgy as much as you can (lighting the paschal candle, carrying the water jug to the font, pouring the water into the font, holding the shell and the towel (if you use them), holding your service sheet while you say the prayer over the water etc).
- Use movement if you can – start the service at the front of the
church and move to the font for the baptism, and make sure the children get a really great view. Use big gestures, lots of oil, lots of water… make the service feel as multisensory and generous as you can.
- If there are older siblings who are already baptised, encourage them to bring their own baptism candle and have it re-lit at the service.
- Why not get the whole congregation to contribute towards something during the service? Perhaps hand out pens and small pieces of coloured paper to everyone and ask them to write a simple blessing on it. These could be collected (by the children) and stuck into a small scrapbook (the children might like to do the sticking) and presented to the family (rather like some families do at funerals to keep a record of who came and their messages of condolence!) or could be used to make a tag cloud after the service that you can send to the family for them to keep and share on social media.
- Use all-age welcomers at baptism services – could a family from the regular congregation be there at the door to greet families and their guests? This would be a reassuring sign that the church is child-friendly, and that they are welcome as they are, and can enable baptism families who don’t usually come to church to get to know families who come regularly. Children who act as welcomers
can also help with other aspects of the service, such as leading prayers, doing readings, etc.
- Make sure people have something to take away – a prayer card, or some object to remind them of the experience and any pledges they may have made, etc. I know one priest who buys up baby socks from
charity shops, uses them during the talk as a visual aid, and then gives everyone one to take home at the end as a reminder.
- If you had a big banner-shaped piece of paper/card, you could write the baptism candidate’s name on it in big outline letters for the children to decorate (you could also write it, ‘St X’s Church welcomes N’)
- Ask the children’s groups, if you have them, to make a dove-shaped card with words of blessing (suggested by the children) on one side, and ‘God says, N, you are my child, I love you, and I am pleased with you’ on the other side, adding the name of the baptism candidate. The children can decorate the dove using coloured pens, and present it to the family at the welcome.
- If you are using the reading about the baptism of Jesus, why not print out enough stickers for each member of the congregation with a dove outline bearing the words, ‘God says, you are my child, I love you and I am pleased with you’ then get the children to take the stickers round and stick one to each person – you could link this to a talk about how the love of God comes first, and then we live it out (and that this can be true for each of us, every day, not just for people at the start of their life).
- Parents may also appreciate something their children can do ‘in the pew’ with them. To that end, here are two downloadable booklets that you may wish to use – they can be photocopied and given out to children along with a pack of crayons.Baptism Colouring Book
Download it as a .pdf document here: Baptism colouring book
This is something that younger children can do on their own, and uses colouring pictures to illustrate the baptism service – in our church we use the same images (smaller) to illustrate our order of service so that even if parents aren’t that great at engaging their children with the service, at least they can match up what they’re doing with what they’re children are doing…
Print this out 2 pages per sheet, in the order 12,1,2,11,10,3,4,9,8,5,6,7 then copy it back to back to make a booklet. Or you may have a clever printer that will do booklets for you!
Baptism activity workbook for children
Download it as a pdf here: Baptism workbook
This is based on the same illustrations as the colouring book, but has more questions, and is either for older children to do on their own or for younger children whose parents are willing to engage with them. My 6-year-old is a good reader and can do it on his own, but I’d be interested to hear about how you end up using it in your own church, and what age group finds it most helpful.
It is for use during or just before a baptism service:
Print this out 2 pages per sheet, in the order 12,1,2,11,10,3,4,9,8,5,6,7 then copy it back to back to make a booklet. Or your printer may have a clever printer that will do booklets for you!
- Some of these ideas – and a few others, too – are archived here. Or you can search for ‘baptism’ on this website to find all related posts.