Creative Ideas for Baptism
The baptism liturgy is full of symbols and action. Make the most of these. Communicate power and meaning of symbols to everyone present – this is an opportunity for mission. We are more likely to learn from ‘doing’ than we are from ‘watching’. We are all witness to, and part of, the beginning of the Christian journey for this newest member of the family of the Church.
Decorating the Church
Decorate the church for baptism. This is a ‘birthday’ in a very real sense and the church can do much to create a welcome and make the day even more special for the child or adult being baptised. Make an altar frontal or banner with the words ‘We welcome you’ (see Gallery photos). The child or adult’s name might be added. String a bunting banner across the church with words ‘N We Welcome You’ (see How to Make).
Make a special stole for the minister to wear at baptisms (see How to Make).
If a service sheet is being used there might be a photograph of the child or adult being baptised on the front. Alternatively, if the service is screen-based there might be a photograph on the screen. But do make sure that you have permission from the family to use a photograph in this way.
Guides for Children
It might be a good idea to invest in some baptism booklets for children so that children in the congregation can look at it with the help of adults, and visiting children can feel more informed about what is going on in the service. ‘My Baptism Book – A Child’s Guide to Baptism’ by Diana Murrie is one such booklet.
Movement and Light
The baptism liturgy is full of movement. The baptismal party they invited to the front of the church to be presented to the congregation, then, as the liturgy unfolds, they move to the font, then back to the front and finally they are sent out with a blessing. Make a trail of paper footprints around the church following the liturgy and leading the baptismal party on the journey of baptism. Ask a group of baptised children to help with the ‘moving’. This will give a sense of pilgrimage – we are all on a journey with Jesus. A small group of children may each carry a lantern with candles lit from the Pascal candle, the ‘Light of Christ’. They can collect the child or adult, the parents, godparents and sponsors and lead them to the front of the church. They can then lead them to the font for the baptism and back to the front. During the Welcome they can lead them around the church to meet the congregation. At the end of the service they can lead the procession out of the church with the newly baptised child or adult adding his/her newly lit candle to the light.
Prayer over the Water
The baptismal party move to the font, all the people turn to face the font, and the water of baptism is poured into the font from a jug. This is a good opportunity to enlist help from a child. Ask the child to lift the jug high to allow the water to splash down into the font in an exciting and dramatic way. (Make sure the water is not too cold.) The Prayer over the Water is said by the minister. Alternatively, the Prayer over the Water might be sung as a hymn, either as a whole or in parts (see Prayer over the Water in Hymns).
If the person being baptised is a child she/he is held by the minister and gently dipped in the water, or water is carefully poured over the child’s head, sometimes with a shell (a symbol of Christian baptism which pilgrims used to wear). Alternatively, water can be used dramatically and generously. The child might be ‘whisked’ through the water becoming quite wet! The word ‘baptism’ comes from the Greek word ‘bapto’ which can mean ‘to dip’ or ‘to plunge’ or ‘to wash’. It is a good idea to have a towel ready for drying. The minister can splash water over the people to remind them of their own baptism and reaffirm that they are ‘the baptised people of God’.
The new member of the Church family is introduced to those present. If a baby or small child, the minister might hold him/her up for all to see and might declare, ‘This is the latest member of God’s family!’ Or the minister might walk around the church carrying the child, or walking with the adult, and praying out loud for him/her and for the family, encouraging others to do so at the same time.
Prayers of Intercession
These might be led by the family, godparents and sponsors, or by the children, or by one of the church families.
The child is given a Certificate of Baptism (see How to Make).
The godparents may each be given a certificate (see How to Make).
If you have made an altar frontal with the child or adult’s name take a photograph beforehand and make it into a card. Ask the children and other members of the congregation to sign the card to welcome the new member and the card can be presented to the child or adult with the Baptism candle at the end of the service.
The Bag for Life
Fill a Bag for Life and collect items for the newly baptised child or adult’s journey of faith. A label (see How to Make) can be attached to the bag listing the items. The label needs to list the items and say why a certain thing is being given. The bag can be presented at the end of the service. Items might include:
A candle to light your path (The candle given at the end of the service)
Water for life
Honey for the journey
A white cloth to wrap you with love
A book of prayers for quiet moments
A Bible to learn about the word of God
A card to welcome you
A postcard giving information about church activities
There is usually a party after a baptism. If the church has a hall it might be offered to the family for the celebration. If there are church caterers they might be asked to help with refreshments.