Baptism is the outward sign of an inward change in a person who has placed their trust in Jesus. We don’t save people—Jesus does that. We just have the privilege of helping them make their big outward profession of faith in the form of baptism.
While I don’t believe we should manipulate people or manufacture results for the sake of numbers, I do believe it’s significant that the Bible records how many people trusted in Jesus and were baptized on the day of Pentecost. The Bible says in Acts 2:41, “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all” (NLT).
We ought to do all that we can to share the Gospel well, to make it very clear what the new believer’s next steps are, and celebrate the results of more people on their way to Heaven. At Saddleback, we’ve baptized over 47,000 people in the last 36 years, and I’d like to believe we’re just getting started!
Here’s a list of some simple things we do to set the stage for more baptisms at Saddleback that almost any church can do…
1. Mention the value, purpose and benefits of baptism regularly in sermons.
2. Videotape some of your baptisms. Prepare a music video of baptisms to show in your worship service so people who’ve never seen a baptism can witness one.
3. Have clothes ready for people who decide spontaneously to be baptized after a service.
4. Make it a party atmosphere. It’s a celebration, not a funeral. Applaud baptisms!
5. Invite small group members to witness the baptism, and identify them before each baptism.
6. Prepare a beautiful baptism folder to hold their certificate.
7. Have a required membership class that explains the meaning of baptism in detail.
8. Always baptize on special days when relatives may be in town: Christmas, Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve, etc.
9. Always baptize on special days of the church. (We baptized over 400 on the day we opened our Worship Center.)
10. Allow entire families (after confirming that all are believers) to enter the pool together.