Accepting Christ is the most significant action a person can ever take. What a glorious moment when someone trusts Christ as Savior and Lord! At the moment of salvation, Christ comes and indwells the new believer and a wonderful, eternal journey begins.
Along that journey, one of the first important steps a new believer takes is the step of baptism. One of the disturbing trends today is many people who accept Christ as Savior and Lord are not following through in their obedience to Christ as it relates to baptism. Often, new believers do not understand the importance of baptism because church members and leaders fail to communicate its importance.
The church has an obligation to help the new believer understand and then follow Christ in believer’s baptism. Multiple avenues of training must educate church members on the importance of baptism in the life of the church.
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water, symbolizing new life in Christ and testifying to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. New Testament baptism is always by immersion and only practiced after one’s profession of faith in Christ.
Here are some simple but effective suggestions to help the church follow-up with the new believer.
- Celebrate with the new believer the significant decision they have made in trusting Christ as Savior.
- Call attention to the importance of baptism.
- Call attention to the fact that baptism proclaims we are unashamed followers of Jesus Christ.
- Emphasize that individuals who are baptized are those who:
- have already trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior
- understand baptism does not bestow salvation, but is a symbol of the new life in Christ that has already begun
- demonstrate their obedience to Christ and the Scripture
- are not ashamed to follow Christ’s example
- desire to identify their lives with the local New Testament church
- proclaim Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection
- state their desire to daily live for Christ
- Communicate the “why” of baptismEmphasize such truths as:
- Obedience to Jesus’ command and example
- Proclamation of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection
- Desire to live a new life in Christ
- Testimony and witness to others of one’s faith
- Identification with the local church
- Discuss the fact that baptism is by immersionCall attention to the New Testament teaching that the word for baptism (baptizo) means “to immerse in water.” Since the Scriptures clearly teach baptism by immersion, this is the method we practice.
Also, emphasize the fact that the New Testament believers were baptized before witnesses. Baptism was not a private ceremony, but a public display of one’s commitment to Christ.
- Educate new believers that baptism is one of the two New Testament ordinances of the church. The other ordinance is the Lord’s Supper.
- Communicate the importance of being baptized as soon as possible.
- Ask for their willingness to be baptized once it has been explained and questions have been answered. Record their commitment to baptism and secure a baptismal date in the visit or indicate that someone will call them regarding a date for baptism. It is always a good practice to record the results of the visit and return the information to the church staff. Some of the questions the new convert might have may include such things as:
- What do I wear for the baptism?
- Where do I meet before the baptism?
- Do I have a room to change in that is private?
- Will I say anything during the baptismal service?
At this point, you may want to point out what the pastor might say to the congregation and a question he might ask them. (Ex. “Jim, do you profess that Jesus Christ is your Savior and do you desire to follow Him in baptism and in all of life? Based on your profession of faith in Christ as your Savior, I baptize you, my brother, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Buried with Christ in baptism – raised to walk in newness of life.”)
- Do I come forward at the end of the service?
- How long am I under the water?
- If it is your church’s practice, you may speak to them about accompanying them in the waters of baptism if they would desire you to do so. Once all questions have been answered, make sure you pray together before you leave.
You know it is a joy to serve in a church where evangelism is the heartbeat and evangelism training is given a high priority as leaders train others to share the Gospel. As a leader, you rejoice in seeing people profess Christ as their Savior. Helping new believers recognize the importance of baptism and helping church members understand their role in communicating that importance is one of your greatest challenges.