Congratulations on a new arrival!
Whether it's your first or fourth, a child is very special, and we'd love to share the celebration with you and God in church.
A new baby makes you wonder about the future - how can we best bring a child up, what really matters in life? Maybe that's one reason for asking about church. That's great - Christians know children matter to God, and it matters for them (and adults too!) to find Him for themselves, right from early on.
At St Bart's, we want to help - and this leaflet tries to explain the options. But sometimes a face-to-face conversation makes things clearer, so please ring or mail me and ask me to call round, or speak to the person who gave you this.
We try to take time and care arranging things, because coming to church at all is a big step for some people – and deciding to have your child baptised means throwing your lot in with the church in a society where most people aren't practising Christians.
So what are the options?
The do-nothing option
You may decide to do nothing. We won’t be offended, but just ask yourself – your life has changed with the new arrival – is God trying to get a word in edgeways?
The celebration option
You may want to come to church, say "thank you" and celebrate the new baby’s arrival publicly (and by name) with family and friends – but don’t want to take the God bit much further.
Or you may not be too sure what you believe and want to find out more first; you may want your children to decide for themselves when they're older; or, simply, you want a family occasion but are worried that having the baby baptised might be a bit hypocritical!
What might suit you is a Service of Thanksgiving, and we’d be happy to lay one on, even at quite short notice – it’s simple but special, and you can invite family and friends, have a party, even have (unofficial) godparents; baptism can always follow later, but you don’t have to decide now.
The lifestyle option
This is where Baptism comes in. It's an option that affects your lifestyle, so you need to think things through with us first.
You, and the godparents (Godparents represent the whole church, so must have been baptised, and should be active adult Christians, but the choice is up to you), need to be happy to –
If that’s what you believe is the right option for your family, we’d be delighted to make the arrangements.
What are the next steps?
First: if you’re already sure that you want to go ahead with the christening, come to our 10am Sunday service (as a famiily, if you can): at the end, our Baptism Team will meet you, talk you through what's involved and book a provisional date on the spot.
If you live in another parish, you and we need to be sure that you plan to make St Bart’s your spiritual “home”; we will normally ask you to make contact with the church there and ask their support before we fix a date for a baptism here.
If you have a school-age child, we’ll discuss the options, with a view to involving them in church life and in the preparation.
Second: you need to come to a preparation evening at Church. This happens once a month (we’ll agree a date with you); it lasts about an hour, and is for both parents (plus godparents if possible) – but not baby, please!
Third: We hope to see you at church as a family at least once before the baptism, so you can meet folk here, and see what church with a small child is like; if you like, we’ll welcome you and baby publicly at that service, and say a prayer for you all.
Our main child-friendly service is at 10 am on Sundays; you can also try our short “Pram Service” for young children (9.30 am on the second Tuesday of the month, with a brew afterwards).
The Baptism Service
St Bart’s is a small church, and we have a fair number of baptisms, and there are often lots of guests. So—unlike most churches these days—we don’t usually do baptisms during our main Sunday worship. Instead, we have a special service, lasting around half an hour, once or twice a month at 12 noon, normally with two families involved.
We're always pleased to incorporate your child’s baptism into one of our main services – our monthly 10 am “Word Alive” as this is the most flexible – please ask!
On the day, we do our best to make everyone feel at home. Please aim to be there yourselves ten minutes in advance, and encourage your guests to be in church promptly.
The service will be child-friendly (no-one bothers about a bit of noise, and the dress code is up to you!) and there’s a photo-opportunity afterwards (with the minister, if you wish) – this means the service goes ahead without the distraction of photos (or phones).
There is no charge for a Baptism, but at the end of the service we do have a collection to help keep our church open to all (and our ministers fed!). For taxpayers, it is a great boost to us if you use the GiftAid envelopes in the pews – the Chancellor adds £2.50 to every £10 you put in.