A hard thing. The promises you make at a baptism, whether it be for yourself or the child you are presenting, are solemn promises. They’re not some glib fibs to be tossed away at the slightest inconvenience. The good thing is that the church, whichever denomination you join, is there to support you and uphold you, to give you help in trying times when your baptism promises seem too heavy or hard to keep. That’s one of the reasons we think of the members of our congregation as brothers and sisters in Christ. Your brother and sister should never betray you or leave you in difficult times – and your brother and sister in Christ should be the same, giving you a shoulder to lean on, or directing you to the best place for assistance.
I would rather see this as an opportunity for the church, and I think that many churches now try to do so. Education of the parents, some of whom may not have attended church since they were married. Encouragement, inviting them to come for a one-year anniversary service afterwards, inviting the whole family to family occasions at the church, just for starters.
St Peter’s Lutheran Church Elizabeth pastor Chris Mann said he urged parents to think seriously about the spiritual promises they made in baptism – and to first enrol in a course that explores Christianity.
“I now actively discourage parents from making those promises if they don’t intend to keep them, to the point where I’ve had a family not get their child baptised because I’ve told them about the promises they’re making to God and themselves,” Mr Mann said. […]
Mr Mann said many parents saw a christening as “a social celebration rather than a religious event”.
“We’ll still baptise but we tell the parents that for us, it’s like having someone become part of your family and then say to you they don’t ever want to see you again,” he said.
This is something that many churches won’t dare to say for fear of frightening off potential baptism candidates, I suspect.