As a parent, you desire to help your precious children come to love Jehovah and dedicate their life to him. What can you do to help prepare them for baptism? At what point will they be ready for this important step? Jesus instructed his followers: “Make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.” (Matt. 28:19) According to this, the primary requirement for baptism is to be a disciple—one who not only understands and believes Christ’s teachings but follows them closely. This is something that even the relatively young can do.
Set a good example for your children, and inculcate Jehovah’s teachings in them. (Deut. 6:6-9) This includes using the information in the books What Does the Bible Really Teach? and “Keep Yourselves in God’s Love” to teach them basic Bible truths and prepare them to reason on Bible principles. Help your children to be able to explain their beliefs in their own words. (1 Pet. 3:15) The knowledge and encouragement they receive from you and from personal study, congregation meetings, and good associates will help them progress to baptism and beyond. Keep spiritual goals before them.
Proverbs 20:11 says: “Even a child is known by his actions, whether his behavior is pure and right.” What are some actions that would indicate that a child, either a boy or a girl, has become a disciple of Jesus Christ and is ready to get baptized?
A child who is progressing toward baptism should obey his godly parents. (Col. 3:20) Regarding Jesus when he was 12 years old, the Bible says: “He continued subject to [his parents].” (Luke 2:51) Of course, you cannot expect your child to be perfect. But one who desires to get baptized will strive to follow Jesus’ example and be known for his subjection to his parents.
He will also demonstrate an interest in learning Bible truths. (Luke 2:46) Does your child want to attend meetings and participate? (Ps. 122:1) Does he have an appetite for regular Bible reading and personal study?—Matt. 4:4.
A child progressing toward baptism endeavors to put Kingdom interests first. (Matt. 6:33) He is mindful of his responsibility as an unbaptized publisher and demonstrates initiative to go in the field service and talk at the doors. He shares in various aspects of the ministry and is not ashamed to let his teachers and schoolmates know that he is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He takes his assignments for the Life and Ministry Meeting seriously.
He will also strive to remain morally clean by avoiding bad associations. (Prov. 13:20; 1 Cor. 15:33) This will be reflected in his preferences regarding music, movies, television programs, video games, and the use of the Internet.
Many have responded to the diligent efforts of their parents, made the truth their own, and qualified for baptism in their youth. May Jehovah bless you as you help your children reach this important milestone in their relationship with Jehovah.
A Message to the Unbaptized Publisher:
It is a privilege to serve with the congregation as an unbaptized publisher. You are to be commended for the spiritual progress you have made. You have come to know God through a study of his Word and have exercised faith in his promises.—John 17:3; Heb. 11:6.
Before you started to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses, you may have associated in some way with a different religious organization or you may have had no religious affiliation at all. Perhaps you engaged in another activity out of harmony with Bible principles. But now you have manifested your faith by repentance, which means deep regret over past wrongdoing, and by conversion, which means rejecting a wrong course and determining to do what is right in God’s sight.—Acts 3:19.
On the other hand, perhaps like Timothy, “from infancy you have known the holy writings,” and you have thereby been safeguarded from involvement in unchristian conduct and serious wrongdoing. (2 Tim. 3:15) You have learned to resist peer pressure and other inducements to do what is bad in Jehovah’s eyes. You have demonstrated faith by upholding true worship and sharing your beliefs with others. You have been trained in the Christian ministry. Now you have made a personal decision to serve Jehovah as an unbaptized publisher.
In either case, whether you learned Jehovah’s ways from infancy or came to know Jehovah later in life, you may now be contemplating two further steps in your spiritual progress—dedication and baptism. You make a dedication to Jehovah by approaching him in prayer and expressing your personal decision to give him exclusive devotion forever. (Matt. 16:24) In symbol of that dedication, you then undergo water baptism. (Matt. 28:19, 20) Through dedication and baptism, you become an ordained minister of Jehovah God. What a wonderful privilege!
As your study of the Bible has indicated, though, you may encounter various challenges. Remember that shortly after baptism, “Jesus was led by the spirit up into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” (Matt. 4:1) Following your baptism as a disciple of Christ, you can expect further tests. (John 15:20) They will come in various forms. You may face opposition from family. (Matt. 10:36) You may be ridiculed by schoolmates, workmates, and former associates. Always remember Jesus’ words found at Mark 10:29, 30: “Truly I say to you, no one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get 100 times more now in this period of time—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the coming system of things, everlasting life.” So continue working hard to stay close to Jehovah and to live up to his righteous standards.
When you desire to get baptized, make this known to the congregation elders. The questions that follow this message provide the basis for discussions that the elders will have with you in order to determine whether you qualify for baptism. You may begin reviewing these questions privately as a part of your regular personal study program.
In preparation for these discussions, take time to read and reflect on the quoted and cited Scripture references. In many cases, they may not provide the complete answer to the question posed, but they will help you to see the Scriptural basis for an answer. If you are not sure of the answer to a question, you may find it helpful to do some additional research using the Bible and the publications provided by “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24:45) You may wish to make personal notes in this book or elsewhere. You may use those notes and have this book open during your discussions with the elders. If you have difficulty understanding any of the questions, feel free to ask for assistance from the one who is studying the Bible with you or from the elders.
In your discussions with the elders, do not feel that you have to give lengthy or complicated answers to the questions. A simple, direct answer in your own words will usually suffice. For many of the questions, it is also beneficial to refer to one or two Bible texts that show the Scriptural basis for your answer.
If you have not yet gained sufficient knowledge of basic Bible teachings, the elders will arrange for you to receive assistance so that you will be able to express in your own words a proper understanding of the Scriptures and qualify for baptism at a later time.
[Note to congregation elders: Instructions for handling discussions with baptism candidates appear on pages 211-214.]