Services of Thanksgiving
For some families a thanksgiving service will be the right place to start their faith journey. It can happen alongside baptism, at an early stage of contact with a family, or as a joyful occasion in its own right. It’s a great opportunity to offer a special time of celebration, being with family and friends and praying for a child. Read on to discover more about the opportunities and the service.
A Service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child (sometimes referred to by families and church as ‘a blessing’ or even ‘a dedication’), is a time of family gathering and celebrating something very special. The research shows that parents may choose this service because:-
- After exploring what baptism means, they may feel that a thanksgiving is the right choice.
- They may simply want to involve the church in saying thank you to God for the arrival of a child into their family.
This provides opportunities for speaking of God’s love and care for every child, perhaps as a precursor to baptism, in a relaxed and more informal style of service.
It can be another step on a journey of faith for some families, strengthening their belief.
- It’s an opportunity to build friendship with the family, both with the church leaders and the congregation.
- It may help to build a greater sense of belonging to a church family, especially if members of the congregation make a point of talking to them when they visit. Research shows that the more connected a family feels with others in the church, the more likely they are to keep coming back.
- Introducing the family to others in similar circumstances (ie families with a small child) will help them identify with people in their church.
- Including prayers in the weeks before and after the service, as well as in the service itself, can mean a lot to a family.
- Asking the family if there is a special hymn or prayer they would like during the service will help them feel they’ve been able to add a personal touch.
Families who ask for a thanksgiving can often be thinking quite deeply about the faith journey, so it’s important not to lose touch with them. Ask about retaining their details so the church can keep in touch. Most families will be happy with this.
Some ways to keep in touch might include:
- Encouraging them to join a parent and baby group, if there is one.
- If the thanksgiving was a precursor to baptism, begin to explore what that means.
- Inviting them to special services like Christingle, nativity, Easter and Mothers’ Day.
- Remembering to invite them to family-friendly events, like fun days, picnics, or charity events, if there are any.