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Never say "No"

Give them a Certificate of Accepting Jesus
This is a certificate to give to children between ages 3 and 9 who are too young to get baptized
but have accepted Jesus as their friend and Savior. 
Read important information, steps to baptism, guidelines, and suggestions below.

Never Say "No"     My Experience    When Making an Appeal    Bible Class for Children    Steps to Baptism     




Certificate available in
English    French    Spanish    Haitian Creole  Portuguese

These certificates can be used by a church of any denomination, anywhere in the world.
You can print any number of copies to meet the need.
Note that permission is needed for publishing in a magazine, book, etc.
The certificate is not to be sold for any purpose, but given freely

Click here to download black and white certificate
Click her to download color certificate


Never say “No, you cannot get baptized”
to a little child.

Little children are very impressionable.  At the youngest age, children can have a simple understanding of Jesus and who he is.  However, children are not able to decide on baptism, based on a theological understanding of accepting Jesus.   On the other hand, it is discouraging to just tell a child that he or she cannot get baptized because one is too young.  That's a negative and inadequate response. Then, what should you do?

It is my view that a child should not get baptized until the age of nine or ten.  Why?  Because this is the time when cognition is being development and a stage where the child can make better moral decisions.  On the other hand, just accepting Jesus is a simple decision that can be made at any time and it should be recognized, even when there is no full understanding of the doctrinal commitments one makes in baptism.

Therefore, it is my view that we can give a “Certificate of Accepting Jesus” to children between ages 3 and 9 who request baptism.  I have done this for many years in my ministry and found it very effective.  In a Bible class, evangelistic meeting, or revival, an alter call can be made for children to accept Jesus and a certificate can be given to them.  (Make sure that the name of the child is on the certificate, and it is dated and signed by the pastor).

When a child under age ten says “I want to get baptized” it is not wise to say “no.”  Praise the child for accepting Jesus.  Say to the child that he or she will receive a certificate for accepting Jesus to honor his or her decision to become a child of God.  Tell the child you will get baptized when they get older but the first step is accepting Jesus, which you will be recognized by a Certificate of Accepting Jesus

I started making specific appeals for children after twenty years of pastoral ministry.  It took a long time to understand this.  It dawned on me after an appeal, when many children responded who were too young to get baptized.  I realized my old method was more discouraging than encouraging.  I realized then, how I was insulting the intelligence of these little children by telling them "No, you cannot get baptized yet.  You are too young."  

It reminded me what many parents would do during dinner time.  They would invite the entire family to come to the dining table eat and fellowship.  This will include the little children, teens, and adults.  Then, soon after and they settled and while eating, the adults would start a conversation among themselves in which one of the little one would try to join in because the child feels he/she can contribute to the conversation.  Then an adult chimes in and says "Be quiet!  This is an adult conversation" or "Remember, do not disturb adults when they are talking."  How insulting to the child!  The children and invited to join with everyone for dinner and are insulted when they seek to participate in the conversation.   Why have them around the table to eat if they cannot be included in the conversation around the table?  

This caused me to think.  I thought we are doing the same thing as pastors by the way we make appeals in church or evangelistic serious.  We open the floor and invite everyone to come to Jesus.  Some pastors insist and insist from the pulpit.  Then who responds?  The adults, teens and little children.  The adults and some teens are recognized, and the little children are pushed aside.  For me, it is painful to watch.  I have seen children in tears because of that approach.

When I began this new approach, I saw the difference.   When I began pastoring at a particular church in Nassau, The Bahamas, I began with a short evangelistic series.  At the beginning of the series a mother came to me and stated that she was having difficulty telling her five-year-old son he was too young to get baptized. He would cry when she said "No, you are too young."  She wondered what to do.   I told her that one night in the series I will have an appeal for little children to accept Jesus and he can respond.  I told her I will give him, along with the other children who responded, a certificate of Accepting Jesus.  The appeal was made a more than a dozen children responded.  A few days later, during one of the meetings, I gave him and all the other children, the certificate.  I assured them all that they are a part of God's family. You should have seen the smiles on his face and the faces of the other children.  The mother told me that made a big difference.   A few years later, when he was almost twelve years old, he got baptized.

These steps grew out of my concern when parents and other spiritual leaders say "No, you cannot get baptized, you are too young" to a little child who responds to an appeal for baptism.  I find that so insulting and a strongly negative approach.  The approach I am suggesting will hopefully put an end to that statement or similar statements used by parents or spiritual leaders/Bible workers.

What to say if your child, who is not old enough to get baptized, says "I want to get baptized?" or "Can I get baptized too," or responds to a public appeal for baptism?  Remember, never say "No," or "No, you cannot get baptized."

Here is a suggestion what to say.  The parent or spiritual leader can say:

"I am so happy you have decided to accept Jesus as your Friend and Savior.  You are now a part of God's family. Because of your decision, the pastor will give you a Certificate and Accepting Jesus, and you will start preparing for baptism and a later date."

It is my opinion that when making public appeals for baptism we must always consider who is in the audience.  If children are in the audience and they are under the age of ten, I suggest that the appeal be clear to all.  There should be at least two types of appeals:  One is for those little children (under age 8 to 10) who are too young to get baptized but want to accept Jesus.  The other is for those who are baptismal age. 

During an evangelistic series, there can be a special time or night during the series that will be specifically for young children to accept Jesus.  Then, have a another special service when they will officially receive their Certificate of Accepting Jesus.

After giving the certificate, the next step is to place the child in a Bible class designed for children to prepare for baptism.  Therefore the child can positively be told that he or she will be a part of that class where they will be taught about principles of Christian living and spirituality.  This can be done with any age, even from 3 or 4 years old.  It is important to be open and honest with the child.  The preparation might take a few years to lead to the appropriate age for baptism. This is being done in the context that the child has already accepted Jesus in his or her life and is a part of the family of God.

For the child who is growing up in a Christian home, there are three steps toward baptism:

  1. The day of infant dedication.  This is usually done between a few weeks old to up to five or six years.  This as important for the parents as it is for the child.  It should be a genuine step towards Christ-like modeling and loving.

  2. The days of accepting Jesus.  This is done between ages three to age nine.  This is recognized by giving a Certificate of Accepting Jesus.  A parent or spiritual leader should always encourage the child to love Jesus and give his or her life to him at any age.  It is imperative that the child knows that accepting Jesus in fully acknowledged.  This sets the stage for the next steps.  After the child is given a Certificate of Accepting Jesus the child is placed in a age-appropriate Bible Class where a trained instructor will lead the child to the next step.  Up to age five or six, the Bible Class can simple be an organized quarterly or bi-annually spiritual fun-time with the children where instructions for fun activities, videos, are utilized.

  3. The day of baptism. This is done between ages ten and anytime throughout life. Ideally the baptism will be done between ages ten and twelve years old.  Parents are not to force or coerce their teens to get baptized.     

Note that these steps are mostly relevant for persons growing up in a Christian home. A person can be fully saved and baptized anytime throughout his or her life and still be eternally saved.   However, note carefully, that proper introduction of the child to Jesus from birth is important in making the decision by the child more natural and longer lasting.  It is also important to understand that children can get turned off (especially as they get older) to the church or spirituality, if their parents are hash, rigid, hypocritical, and lack a demonstration of compassion towards everyone.




Below Are Guidelines For Sharing the Information On This Site
Permission is granted to place links from these articles on social media like Google+, FaceBook, etc..   Permission is also granted to print these pages and to make the necessary copies for your personal use, friends, seminar, or meeting handout. You must not sell for personal gain, only to cover the cost to make copies if necessary.    Written permission (email) is needed to publish or reprint articles and materials in any other form.    Articles are written by Barrington H. Brennen, Counseling Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.

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April 26, 2000, TAGnet / Network Solutions

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