The more I think about it, the more excited I get about the statewide “Fill the Tank” baptism emphasis and celebration scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 12. My prayer is that all baptistries across the South Roanoke Baptist Association (SRBA) and beyond will be filled with water and people who are publicly professing their faith in Jesus Christ. I also pray this emphasis will be a spark that ignites a revival and awakening across our state and nation. Here are a few ideas I would like to share with you as your church prepares to “Fill the Tank.”
Pray and trust God for a harvest
Most of us plan baptism services after we know we have people to baptize. Participating in “Fill the Tank” can cause a bit of anxiety because churches are being asked to set aside a day for baptisms even if they currently do not have any folks ready to be baptized. Well, we can fret about this, or we can pray and trust God to provide a harvest. I vote we pray and trust God!
Many churches will be holding Vacation Bible School and sending children and teens to summer camp. Pray for God to bring a harvest from these events. I’m sure there are other activities in which your church will be engaged in the coming months that will provide opportunities to yield a harvest.
I recently reviewed our association’s statistics and they showed that since 2016, we have reported a total of 1,056 baptisms with the year 2016 being our high point of 293. Wouldn’t it be awesome to report a one-day total of 100+ baptisms in the SRBA? With God all things are possible.
Prepare to share
Gearing up for “Fill the Tank” gives us the opportunity for evangelism training. There are all kinds of ways to share the gospel. One of the most effective ways is telling your story of how Jesus saved you. Gospel sharing tools can be found at fillthetanknc.org. One of the best ways to prepare to share is to practice when you are with fellow believers. Carve out time during Sunday School and small group gatherings to share your story with others. The midweek prayer gathering is also a good setting for evangelism training. If your church would like to know more, I’m happy to help.
I pray this emphasis will be a spark that ignites a revival and awakening across our state and nation.
Take it outside
Hold your baptism service outdoors. Head to a park, town common, the river or your church lawn. Use a large inflatable pool, a tarp in the bed of a pickup truck, or a galvanized stock tank.
Join other churches in your community
Wouldn’t it be awesome if several churches that had one or two candidates got together to celebrate with each other? This is a perfect time to hold the service in a space outside of the church walls as well.
Make it a party
After all, we are celebrating new life in Christ. People like parties, so provide invitations for baptism candidates to send to family members and friends. Be sure to share the gospel with those who attend and invite them to respond to God’s free gift of grace through Jesus Christ. Oh, and serve refreshments. It’s not a party without cake.
Two highlights of my life were baptizing both of my children. Offer parents the privilege of baptizing their children. Ask folks who God used to lead another person to faith in Christ if they would like to baptize that person as well.
Practice planned spontaneity
I know this sounds like an oxymoron but hear me out. Add a different element to your service by inviting people in attendance to be baptized along with those who are already scheduled for baptism. After sharing the gospel, you can ask something along the lines of what the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip in Acts 8:36, “Look, here’s water. What is keeping you from being baptized?” Of course, you will need to make sure you have appropriate garments for those who are baptized.
Determine to disciple
This emphasis provides a prime opportunity to develop a discipleship pathway for your church. Spend time training disciplers who will walk with new believers and help them grow in the faith. We must not forget that teaching people to observe all that Christ commanded is a crucial part of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:20).
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article first appeared in the South Roanoke Baptist Association’s July 2021 newsletter and is reprinted with permission with minor edits.