When Is a Child Mature Enough to Make a Profession of Faith?

child baptism

Is there a minimum age for baptism?

That’s the essence of a question asked of Mark Driscoll, pastor of The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In the video, Driscoll and his wife Grace answer a question from one of their members who wrote that her 4-year old daughter asked to be baptized.  The writer asked Driscoll if that was a good idea considering the girl’s age.

The Driscolls said they also had a child who asked for baptism at around the same age.  They consented after asking several questions of their son to find out if his conviction was true and if the child understood his profession of faith.

Driscoll said he initially discounted baptizing his son at such a young age because children often seem interested in something but due to immaturity the enthusiasm doesn’t last. As he put it, “Sometimes kids say, ‘I want to be a pumpkin or an astronaut.’  Ok, we’ll see tomorrow.”

The Driscoll’s advice is that parents are in the best position to determine a child’s heart and should make that decision.  To help them in their conclusion he says if a child’s profession and evidence of faith appear true, there is no reason not to allow baptism or the taking of communion.

Tim Challies, pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto raises three points in answering the question about the appropriate age for baptism:

  1. It is wise to wait to baptize a child until he has reached a certain level of maturity.  He believes such criteria typically correspond to the teen years, and more typically, the mid-to-late teen years.
  2. Delaying baptism does not mean we should consider childhood conversions or baptisms invalid.
  3. Pastors ought to take every opportunity to meet with children to speak to them about their souls.

He also believes there are benefits to delaying baptism for children who profess faith; it allows membership in the church to proceed logically from baptism so that every baptized believer can immediately serve as a fully-functioning member of the church. It accounts for the uncertainty that may attend childhood conversions. It calls on parents to lead their children and to understand that their children are not being disobedient in waiting for baptism. And it esteems baptism as a one-time act to be anticipated as a public, credible, mature profession of faith.

Whatever your church’s stance on child baptism, if you have a child asking about baptism, be grateful that they are showing a spiritual interest that comes from God.  Then help them understand the responsibility and blessing of the revelation as you help guide them in their spiritual growth.

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