This is my favorite.
Like my most favorite.
Like if I could do one of these everyday I would.
The night of the First Steps Event is so very special to families. They've invited their family and close friends to be apart of this commitment they are making.
The event itself is 2 hours long. We serve a light dinner for the families from 5-5:30/5:45 depending on how the room loads and how quickly people get their food. During this time, we have a photo booth set up for them to get how many ever pictures they want. We are extremely blessed to have a communications director on staff who is also a professional photographer.
We try to keep the service portion 30-45 minutes long. We open with a couple of songs. Over one of the songs we have a slideshow play with the pictures and the names of all the children being dedicated. I then say a few welcoming words and introduce our pastor who speaks for about 10 minutes on the importance of dedication and parenting. After finishing, he calls the parents and their child/children and has them line across the stage after receiving their dedication certificate. He has them repeat our 4 commitments we've adapted from Brian Haynes' Shift.
I will pursue an authentic walk with Jesus Christ
I will accept responsibility to be my child’s primary faith trainer and and impress the truth and love of God on my child as we live life together.
I will love my child with the same unconditional love I have received from God.
I will pray for my child to know Christ as Lord and Savior.
Another song plays as they go back to their seats, and then I come up and set up the Imagine the End portion of the service.
This is my absolute favorite moment. The view that I get as parents and families and generations circle around their children to read their prayers is beautiful. I get to see dads fighting back tears as they read the words they wrote. I get to see moms staring lovingly into their children's faces. I get to see grandma and grandpa saying their own blessings and prayers over their grandchildren. I can remember during one First Steps a small group leader of a little boy being dedicated was invited to sit at the table of a single mom and partake in this special moment. There wasn't a dry eye.
In Mark Batterson's Praying Circles Around Your Children he says, “Your prayers are prophecies. You can write the future of your family with your prayers.” That is our prayer as a church as these families read their own prayers over their children. We pray this becomes truth they will one day live out in their lives.
We end with one last song and wrap up. After the service portion, we eat cake. Each family has a small cake on their table. Also, the families can take more pictures in the photo booth if they like during this time. We try to wrap the event by 7:00 - right around 2 hours long. With kids, you can't go too long or you lose your audience.