Announcement: The wait is over! Taking the Plunge: Baptism and Belonging to Jesus is off the press, in stock and ready to be sent to you. But you’re already baptised? This book is still, especially for you – to keep on hand (why not a few copies) for those you know who are coming to faith, or close, or raised in the faith and coming of age to own it for themselves. Order at: sacredagents.net
Smartphones have ruined our lives in many ways, and not least among them is that it’s no longer acceptable to spot someone standing by a swimming pool and just shove them straight in. We’re reticent, too, to do this with baptisteries.
Baptists like me are keenly aware that you can’t force people to believe, that people should only be baptised according to their own faith, not someone else’s. We’ve been wary, therefore, of prompting people to be baptised. The ideal scenario, when you follow that weird logic, is that we should be completely silent on the subject, and wait for the people coming to faith and kids in the youth group to suddenly come to us and request baptism. ‘That’s how we’ll really know that it’s genuine faith,’ we tell ourselves, ‘if we had nothing to do with it.’
Of course, we don’t consciously tell that to ourselves quite so clearly, because it’s clearly ridiculous. As I’ve mentioned once or two hundred times here: passivity is not purity of mission. God involves us in sparking faith in others, not merely to wait for spontaneous combustion. We should mention baptism more, not less. It’s right there in the Great Commission so it should absolutely be normalised as something that lots of people do, and have across the history of the church and around the world. There are many ways we can regularly offer opportunities for people to explore baptism, and stop short of coercing people.
Even if – especially if – your church has not had a baptism in quite some time, might you consider setting a rhythm of offering baptism discussion sessions once per quarter? Even if – especially if – every last person in your congregation has already been baptised, might it not indicate that it’s time to invite others in?
And if you know someone who wittingly or unwittingly is standing a little too close to the pool of faith, why not smile mischievously, put your arm round them … and give them a copy of Taking the Plunge?
Andrew Turner is our Church Development Facilitator. You can interact with this and other articles on his blog www.sacredagents.net