When Jesus told the apostles to make disciples, it included two elements: (1) baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit and (2) teaching obedience to all Jesus commanded. We must remember that at that time there weren’t many followers of Jesus, so baptizing people required sharing the good news with those people who didn’t yet know him and then maturing them. However, a piece I believe we sometimes miss is the link between how proper evangelism results in conversion which results in baptism and identification with Jesus and the community of people who call upon his name.
A few weeks from now we are having baptism services. I speak for myself in saying that, at times, the value of this service is under appreciated. It can just become another service element, but it isn’t. It’s the story of Jesus moving someone from death to life. So a number of us met and talked about ways we could better highlight that. Here are some tweaks:
WHAT WE BELIEVE
We’ve had statements about baptism, many good ones. But Baton Rouge has its own religious culture regarding baptism and how it functions, when it happens, etc. So we wanted to be a little more thorough in explaining what we believed in baptism to help people more fully understand it. We also wanted them to better understand our process and some of the elements of it. That document is here. It really is no different than many types of documents, but at least it is in one place for our church. One day soon Quinn, our great graphic designer, will pretty it up for us so it isn’t just a boring word doc.
WRITTEN TESTIMONY AND INSTRUCTION
This is really the best part of it all. Our college ministry was already asking for a written testimony from people they were baptizing. That testimony was a way to help them hear the story of the person considering baptism, to see if more instruction might be needed. Those testimonies are shared at our baptism services. We have, at times, offered a baptism class, but we are currently at a spot where one-on-one meetings accomplish much of what that class would accomplish. If we ever need to switch to a class format, we certainly can. The hope in the testimony would be that, as someone is presented to the congregation for baptism, their testimony is read to the congregation. Baptisms are one of the most powerful evangelistic elements that we have—assuming we can tell the story of Christ’s redemption in it—and we want that good news to be heard in the words of the person being baptized.
We are working on videoing the baptisms that happen at our church. Some people will not want this—especially if they are from other countries. We will be sensitive to that when we baptize. For those who are OK with it (and most are), we can use these to share with our other services at different times. Having multiple serves and locations always leads to questions about what unifies us or makes us “one church”, and we thought this would help to share stories of what God is doing amongst our locations, services, and ministries.
We are working on fixing up the baptism page on the website, but the process is at the bottom of the page. Go here if you’d like to check it out. My hope is that, in time, these grow into great celebrations for us as a faith family to join in on.