When Should a Child Be Baptized? (Here's the Answer)

When should a child be baptized?  Let's take a look at what the Bible says.

Should children be baptized when they are a baby?  Every time someone in the Bible was baptized, it was when they were old enough to make the decision for themselves.

Acts 2:41 says that "those who accepted His message were baptized."

There is no Biblical basis for baptizing babies...so no...babies should not be baptized.

Children should be baptized after they have made a clear faith commitment.  It is vital to have a clear process for sharing the Gospel with kids and then take the time to make sure they understand the decision they are making.  We have developed a class for this called Starting Line.  It has been used to lead hundreds of kids to Christ and is now being used by churches across the country and around the world.  You can read more about it here.

The age of accountability is not a specific age...it varies from child to child as God works in their life.  I have found that for most children they begin to understand abstractly around the age of 7.5 to 8 years old.  For some children, it might be earlier than this and for some they might be older than this.

Children should be baptized after they have a clear understanding of what baptism means.  Kids should be able to articulate why they are being baptized.  Many churches have a minimum age for baptism.  For us, the minimum age for baptism is kindergarten and again, that is only if the child has made a clear decision and understands what they are doing.  The vast majority of the time kids who are baptized in our church are 2nd grade and older.  Each church must decide for themselves what the minimum age for baptism will be.

The important thing is to take the time to make sure kids understand what they are doing.  Each child who is baptized at our church must first go through the Starting Line class and then a baptism class where baptism is clearly explained.  Kids then write out why they are being baptized and read it at their baptism.  You can read more about it here.
Kids should be baptized when their parents are in agreement.  God has called parents to be the primary spiritual leader of their children.  It is vital to partner with them when their children begin asking about baptism.  Our job is to provide parents with the tools and resources they need to lead their children to Jesus and then see them follow Him in baptism.  Parents should be involved each step of the way.

If a parent says their child is not ready to be baptized, then you should wait.  On the flip side, if a parent says their child is ready to be baptized, but the child clearly doesn't understand what he or she is doing, it is an opportunity to come alongside the parent and help them see why the child should wait. 

When you partner with parents in this, the great thing is you will see many parents come to Christ and follow Him in baptism with their child.  We see this happen every month. 

Children should be baptized when they move from "wanting to" to "needing to."  There is a difference.  A child who wants to be baptized because their friend got baptized or because it looks like fun, is not ready.  A child should be baptized when he or she has a sense of Holy Spirit urgency that causes them to know they need to be baptized.

As parents and children's ministry leaders, our role is not to push kids to be baptized nor is it to hold them back.  Our role is to simply walk alongside them and have the conversations.  As we share with them what God's Word says, He will work in their lives in His time.