Every church is different. You need to come up with your own way of doing it, but the way a church celebrates baptism is important. It sends a message about values. I’ve not always done a great job at it. At times it should have been better, but here are some things you can do to make baptism a significant event. We baptize on Sunday mornings as it is a better witness to a broader crowd. Here’s what I suggest.
- Remember first it’s about following Jesus. I have a picture below of a Sudanese woman following Jesus in Baptism by Immersion in a mud pit. I remember that in all the celebration, it’s still first and foremost about following Jesus.
- Clean your baptism area. You need an area that is not junked up. When someone walks back there it should say “we value this.” A junked up dirty area speaks poorly of our commitment to baptism.
- Get a new baptistery. If you use an old, out dated baptistery that is dangerous to even get in, then spend some of the money your church has in savings to get a new baptistery. Build for intimacy , function, and experience. Don’t go cheap. Some baptisteries would be better of being a horse trough, which many churches are using now. They are actually not expensive and can be quality.
- Take pictures. We take pictures. A lot of pictures. We want people to remember the experience that they followed Jesus Christ. One thing I loathe are poor baptism pictures. You probably have someone who is a wanna be photographer who would do it. For pictures and videos, you may need to mount a camera or video.
- Share on social media. I share baptism experiences on media as it’s a witness to people about Jesus and what is happening in the church to community. I don’t just share our experiences, but also those of other churches. Celebrate everyone’s successes.
- Create a team. We have a few people who help out those being baptized as they change clothes, get towels, etc. It has become one of the hubs of the church. People hear about baptisms and they come behind the scenes to celebrate and watch. A good team helps the pastor not have to do all the details. I’m thankful for those who help us. They are amazing servants.
- Hang pictures. We put up the pictures of everyone being baptized on a wall in the prep area. People see them and are amazed. We baptize in the river some in the summer, so we put those up too as we bring it all together.
- Give T-Shirts. We give each person a “No Perfect People Allowed” t-shirt. It’s the icing on the cake, but it’s good icing.
- Video. We Skype the baptisms on the screen with a smart phone. You could do the same easily. If you have a baptistery that is high up out of sight of the crowd, you really need to get someone to Skype it to the crowd. It personalizes the baptism for the audience.
- Follow up. Before, during and after baptism, follow up is crucial. Make sure the person knows Jesus personally and has received Him as Lord and Savior. Get dates of salvation and baptism confirmed. Communicate with the person before baptism. Encourage the person after. Give the person a new believers bag that has a Bible, journal, pen, a new believers book for growth, etc. Make it good.
So there’s 10 things for making baptism a celebration. For small and mid size churches, the way you can make your church feel big or excellent is by the way you celebrate baptism. Larger churches usually don’t baptize weekly. They baptize larger numbers monthly or quarterly. It’s impressive. But it can be impersonal. because there are so many at one time. Of course we want many. There were 3000 at Pentecost. Have you ever considered that each of the 12 Apostles would have baptized 250 each in the Jordan River that day? That’s awesome! I’m not trying to advocate small versus large. I’m saying find a way that is appropriate for your context and celebrate. There’s no excuse for poor baptism experiences regardless the size of your church. Prepare now for the harvest to come.