WHEN SHOULD KIDS TAKE COMMUNION AND BE BAPTIZED?
A question I’m often asked is, “When should a parent allow a child to partake in Communion and Baptism?” The answer usually involves two parts. First of all, a child should be allowed to partake in neither Communion nor Baptism until they have made a willful, independent decision to repent and commit their life to Jesus Christ. To allow a child who has never made a commitment to Christ to participate in either sacrament is not biblical.
Secondly, once a young child has become a Christian, it does not automatically mean that we should allow them to be baptized or to take Communion. My normal advice to parents is to wait until the child asks them about it, and then make sure the child has a clear understanding of what it is they are asking to do. For example, on the issue of Communion, do they understand the danger of drinking judgment (discipline) on themselves, as Paul warned about in 1 Corinthians 11:29? Some parents worry that if their child wants to take Communion (for example) and the parent turns them down, the child will either rebel in the service, or feel “left out.” In my experience, this is rarely the case.
When it comes to Baptism, I’ve baptized children as young as seven, and I’ve felt comfortable about it because they were able to clearly articulate their faith in Christ. But to help answer the question, let me offer the perspective of a seasoned youth pastor I spoke with some years ago. He promotes the following guidelines in his church: 1. Holding off on Communion until the child is in junior high, and 2. Holding off on Baptism until the child is in high school. He reasons that Communion is a more private affair and should be allowed at a younger age than Baptism. Baptism is a public stand that requires a person to know that they are choosing one lifestyle over another. He said that most youth are not forced to wrestle with significant lifestyle decisions until high school, and that’s why he feels it’s best to hold off on being baptized until then.
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor