While most people who believe in Christianity agree on the major points of faith, such as what we read in the Nicene Creed, there are smaller differences between denominations. One example of these differences is the role of a godparent.
While some denominations include a godparent in a child’s life, others do not. If you were recently asked to fill the role of a godparent in someone’s life but aren’t sure exactly what to do, we can help. We’ve outlined the ultimate guide to being a great godparent below and included everything from the definition of a godparent to how you can support a child’s faith.
The dictionary defines a godparent as someone who presents a child for baptism and promises to teach their religion accordingly. They are most common in Christianity, especially within Catholicism and liturgical Protestant denominations. However, any person of any faith may request that another religious person serves as a godparent in their child’s life. Some religions and Christian denominations do not perform infant baptisms, but they do dedicate the child to the faith. The family could request a specific godparent in these situations as well, even without the baptism.
Some denominations use different terms for the role of godparent, such as a sponsor. Regardless of denomination or name, the role of the godparent is to witness the infant’s baptism or dedication and vow to help that infant grow in their faith as they grow up.
Participating in the Initial Service
If you want to be a great godparent, you must participate in the initial service for your godchild. As we mentioned above, this is often an infant baptism or dedication. However, some Christian denominations, such as Methodism, offer adult baptism, which can also include godparents or sponsors. Regardless of the age of the person, you must be present at the service, most likely on stage or at the front of the church where the baptism or dedication takes place.
While some people find it nerve-wracking to stand in front of a church during such an important moment, you must do so as the chosen godparent. The officiant may ask you specific questions requiring specific responses, or you may simply stand with the family and observe during this ceremony. Each Christian denomination performs these services differently, and the faith leader, such as a bishop, should instruct you as needed.
Involvement in Your Godchild’s Life
Being a great godparent goes beyond showing up for the baptism. You should play an active role in your godchild’s life, especially in their spiritual life, as you vowed to do during that initial ceremony. However, these vows are often vague and simply mention instructing and guiding the godchild. What can you do to involve yourself in your godchild’s life?
If you live close to your godchild and attend the same church, then you can participate in weekly spiritual gatherings with them. Sitting with you instead of their parents during the church service will give you the opportunity to discuss the songs you sing and the sermon you hear, as well as other parts of the service, such as baptisms and financing offerings.
For those who don’t attend the same church but live close to their godchild, you can still maintain a spiritual involvement in their lives. Schedule a regular time that works with everyone’s schedule to spend one-on-one time with the child. You can start or allow the child to start spiritual discussions, such as what they’re learning in Sunday school and if they have a favorite book of the Bible. Younger children may not want to stay within confined spiritual topics, but that’s okay. As you play an active spiritual role in their life, they’ll understand that you’re there for them and love them. Love is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-38), so even if you’re not directly discussing spiritual matters, you are still demonstrating how to live a Christian life.
Sometimes godparents don’t get to live close to their godchild. You can use technology to have one-on-one discussions via video calls to have similar discussions. You can also make sure to send spiritual letters or presents that coincide with holidays and special occasions. For example, you could mail your godchild a letter describing your first communion when they first participate in communion, so they feel prepared for this new experience. You could include a related gift as well, such as a cross necklace.
Assisting a Growing Faith
Your godchild probably started out as a baby, unless they joined the church and asked for godparents later in life. As your godchild grows, the involvement we described above will change, and you will further assist in their growing faith. You will have fewer conversations about general spiritual topics and may have to answer harder questions about religious beliefs. While you’re probably not a religious scholar, you need to do your best to answer these questions. If you don’t know the answer, be honest with your godchild. Tell them that you don’t know, and then look for the answer together in the Bible. You can also schedule a time to talk together with a faith leader.
Being a great godparent isn’t easy, especially when faced with hard questions. Your willingness to stand with this child physically and metaphorically as they grow spiritually is what will set you apart. Don’t leave them to figure things out on their own. You promised to help guide and teach them, and you must do so even when it’s hard if you really want to be a great godparent.
Supporting Your Godchild’s Family
You vowed to guide and instruct your godchild in their faith even when it was difficult. How does that relationship relate to the rest of your godchild’s family? You probably have a good relationship with the parents, since they asked you to act as a godparent. Ask them how you can support them and your godchild spiritually. Their marriage and relationship with their children, including your godchild, will affect your godchild’s life, including how they view religion. If you can step in to help them, you should do so. For example, you can babysit for free once a month so the parents can enjoy a much-needed date night.
If you want to be a great godparent, you must follow this ultimate guide, but you must also take additional steps. No guide can truly instruct how to raise a child in the Christian faith; you must share and understand this faith and love your godchild enough to work through their faith with them. One of the best ways to do that is by reading the Bible on your own and together. A study Bible can provide extra information and context so you can grow in your faith together and answer the hard questions. The KJV Store has study Bibles for sale that can help you do just that.