When David Herman, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Creedmoor, signed his church up for the “Fill the Tank” emphasis in 2021, he was taking a step of faith.

“I remember signing up for it weeks before … and, you know, Satan immediately tells you that there’s not going to be anyone that day,” Herman said. 

Despite his initial worries, Herman signed up, and Pleasant Grove joined a list of more than 700 North Carolina churches that committed to fill their baptismal tanks on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. 

Leading up to that Sunday, Herman took several weeks to introduce “Fill the Tank” to his congregation. During each of his services, he set aside time to explain the importance of baptism and challenged his congregation to make a decision for Christ.

“As a Baptist congregation, we want people to place their faith and trust in Christ. We want them to walk through the waters of baptism as a public profession of their faith,” Herman said. “And so, [I] just really tried to speak to that.”

Herman’s words of exhortation did not fall on deaf ears. On Sept. 12, after weeks of prayer and preaching, Herman had the opportunity to baptize 12 individuals — including his own father-in-law.

This year, on April 16, Pleasant Grove will join churches across the state that are participating in “Fill the Tank,” an emphasis celebrating baptism and profession of faith in Christ. Churches can sign up online to commit to filling up their baptismal pools, praying and trusting that God will save people. 

Jeff Maynard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Brevard, said his church plans on hosting a joint service with partnering Hispanic church plant La Primera on April 16. According to Maynard, their desire to commit to “Fill the Tank” comes from a heart of evangelism and an expectation that God will consistently bring people into the kingdom.

“We should have an expectation that the gospel will work,” Maynard said. “The gospel hasn’t lost any power. [In the book of Acts] it was able to work in a whole world set against it. “

In September 2021, during the previous “Fill the Tank” emphasis, First Baptist Brevard witnessed two baptisms after two people experienced salvation during a worship service the week before. Maynard anticipates that God will continue to do this work among N.C. Baptist churches.

“The church needs to get back to the expectation that the gospel will work if we just go out and share it,” Maynard said. “And for me, ‘Fill the Tank’ fits into that expectation.” 

In September 2021, more than 320 churches reported nearly 1,600 baptisms across North Carolina during the initial “Fill the Tank” emphasis. This year, “Fill the Tank” will be held April 9, the Sunday after Easter, a time when churches across the nation traditionally experience an uptick in attendance.

“This entire movement must be dedicated to prayer,” said Todd Unzicker, executive director-treasurer for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. “We’re trusting that the Holy Spirit will move in our churches because we know that He is the Lord who saves.”

Churches can commit to the “Fill the Tank” emphasis by signing up online at fillthetanknc.org. The website also includes free promotional graphics that can help pastors introduce the initiative to their congregations. On April 16, churches are encouraged to share their photos and testimonies on social media by tagging @ncbaptist and using the hashtag #fillthetanknc. 

“I would challenge pastors to fill the tank up, [and] trust that God is going to take care of the rest,” Herman said. “I did not think that there would be 12 walking through the waters that day …. We’re trusting Him for the results.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared in the March edition of the Biblical Recorder magazine.