One of the great aspects of disciple-making is helping others understand the importance of sharing their faith and helping others come into a relationship with Christ. Another step in the discipleship process is helping them understand the importance of believer’s baptism. While baptism is not essential to salvation, it is very essential in our obedience to Christ.
Many people who attend or join our churches may not have grown up in church, or they may have grown up in a church environment that did not emphasize the importance of believer’s baptism. We are robbing these individuals of a unique experience of joy if we do not help them understand the importance of celebrating their profession of faith through believer’s baptism.
You may have heard or read about the “fill the tank” challenge from Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President J.D. Greear, who is calling SBC churches to observe the ordinance of baptism on Easter Sunday. As we approach Easter this year, I want to encourage all of our North Carolina Baptist churches to include baptism as part of their Easter Sunday worship celebrations on April 12.
Granted, believer’s baptism is not something that should be tacked onto a service in an insignificant way. Start praying and planning now to make a big deal about the importance of believer’s baptism and have one or more candidates ready to be baptized this Easter. Celebrate their new spiritual life in Christ through this outward expression of an inward change in their life.
If you will announce throughout the service on Easter Sunday that you have everything available for baptism candidates to use, emphasize the meaning and importance of believer’s baptism, and challenge people to follow the example of Christ in being baptized after they’ve accepted Christ, you may be surprised at the response to this invitation.
Between now and Easter Sunday, please challenge your congregation to focus on an individual or individuals who need to accept Christ as Savior. Encourage your people to pray for those individuals, spend time with them, present the gospel in a loving compassionate way and then — most importantly — invite them to trust in Christ as Savior. Offer to lead them through a prayer of repentance and commitment to Christ. If they accept Christ as Savior, rejoice with them and let them know that Easter Sunday would be a wonderful day to celebrate their decision for Christ through baptism. Don’t forget to invite them to meet you at church on Sunday.
Many activities occupy the church calendar on and around Easter weekend. Enjoy them, but also use them to help people focus on why we celebrate Easter — the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. We Baptists symbolize our own spiritual resurrection and new life in Christ through our distinctive mode of believer’s baptism.
The North American Mission Board has developed a number of resources related to hosting a Baptism Sunday in your church this Easter. They are available at namb.net/baptism-sunday-resources.
So whether it’s in a lake, a river or in your church’s baptistery, I hope your church will have a baptism service on Easter Sunday.
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” — Romans 6:4 (NKJV)