Above all else, the church should be very intentional about helping people make the most important decision of their lives, the decision to be baptized. And like all other important processes in the church, helping people cross the line of faith and be baptized should be formalized, put on paper, and practiced consistently.
Here’s an outline of a good system of continuously keeping this most crucial decision in front of everyone in the church regularly:
The Process …
Planning – Plan to conduct regularly scheduled baptism services. Many find that monthly works for them, allowing teaching and other activities leading up to a baptism service to happen. Of course, a church should be ready to do baptisms throughout the month as people make the decision and are ready. But having something on the calendar forces the church to diligently stick to the process.
Teaching – Routinely wrap a series or otherwise include teaching on the topic of salvation and the importance of baptism in the salvation process, calling on people to make a decision to be baptized.
The Decision – There should be a vehicle for making the decision. Two weeks before a scheduled baptism service, as part of communion or at other appropriate times, prompt people to indicate if they’re ready or if they have questions about baptism. This can be done with a card in the seat in front of them or via an electronic form available on the church’s mobile app. Do something to create a reflective moment in the service to allow people to consider baptism and the decision they will make.
Baptism Video – The week before a scheduled baptism service, show a video of the previous month’s baptism service. The video functions as a “testimony” and helps people experience what it is like to be baptized.
Baptism Service – Remind people during all services on the day of a baptism service. Let them know whether or not they’ve signed up to be a part of it or if they just want to show up to observe, they’re invited to participate. Make the service informal and celebratory. Have people give their names and tell the story of how they found out about the church. This portion of the service is a vital tool to help people attending the service contemplate their spiritual journey and if they’re ready to make a decision.
Follow Up – Each person being baptized should be followed up with, maybe receiving a “congratulations and next steps” e-mail. Perhaps include an invitation to serve, join a group, and attend a next steps class.
Prepare for the Next Service – Begin the process again by having each ministry leader create a list of people to contact about their spiritual journey and the next scheduled baptism service. Ask them to meet with people to answer questions, etc.