A Focus on Baptism
June 22, 2017

Four years ago, as I was sitting at the O2 Conference (then called the wiki conference), I was struck as speaker and founder of FiveTwo, Bill Woolsey spoke about baptisms.  He stated that his church always had goals for baptisms, and prayed that God would use them to baptize 10% of their average weekend service attendance. 

This launched a conversation around our Leadership Team about our baptismal prayer to the Lord each year.  We too, boldly pray that we will be able to baptize at least 10% of our attendance at weekend services.  But, we also then began to pray as Lutheran’s that 10% of all our baptisms each year would be adults.   


We realized that we didn’t really speak about baptism and the necessity and ease of baptism on a regular basis.  


As we prayed about this, we began to strategize ways to have baptismal conversations.  We began to ask simple questions.

To our wedding couples we asked if they were baptized, and then asked about their families, and if they were baptized.  We then carried that to the ministry of care through funerals and began to ask those families about baptism, not just about the baptism of the deceased.  Then, we began to think about our other major ministries; and began to engage our VBS families and asked if their children attending VBS are baptized, and if not, would they like to be.  Last year, we had 5 baptisms on the last day of VBS and it was awesome! 

It doesn’t stop there for us.  We have engaged each staff member and each weekend attendee as a baptism ambassador.  We’ve invited them to have the conversations with everyone -- with those they work with, with those they’re neighbors of, with those they see and come into contact with.  It’s an easy conversation.  It can begin with, “Tell me about your baptism?”, or “This week at our church we talked about baptism.  Are you baptized?”.

While we haven’t yet reached our goal of a total of 10%, we did exceed our goal of adult baptisms.  Our congregation celebrated 98 total baptisms last year, 11 of them were adults.  One weekend we had 9 baptisms and 2 of the 9 were adults.  It was encouraging to see our congregation excited to see God at work in their midst. 

We have discovered that some in our surrounding community thought it was difficult to be baptized, or didn’t know how to even find out about baptism.  Now they know; and now we see opportunities to be used by His Spirit to grow His family, through the great gift of Baptism.

To learn more about Immanuel Lutheran Church & Shool in Macomb, MI visit www.immlutheran.org.

by Greg Griffith, Lead Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church & School-Macomb, MI

Comments

  • Lori Schwan

    Funny I am reading this on our last day of VBS. Last week when I took on the task of writing a family devo for each day of our Group Publishing Rome VBS, I had no idea that the Holy Spirit would direct me to see how each day's theme lined up with another truth about baptism. I had already seen the registrant list building with people from nondenominational churches along with people from ours who were regular members and some that just came. One on the list was a little girl who'd been brought to our Sunday School for years by her grandma (who no longer was a member but she was definitely the one doing her part to try to infuse faith into their lives). Grandma stays for each class with her grandchildren. The kids aren't usually in worship (to witness baptisms), they don't go to our school when we talk about it or see them happen in chapel, and to be honest we don't talk about baptism as much as we should. . Then on the last few weeks of SS, grandma told me her granddaughter wants to be baptized. I rejoiced with them and said we should to set up a time for me to meet with their family to answer any questions they have. For years if mom brought them she just dropped them even if it was a family event. For VBS I got bold and texted grandma and mom to see if they were coming. At the last minute mom asked if she could bring them saying she wouldn't come the first night but after that. Well, she came with them - left, but stayed longer than she had in the past. She missed our parent time when we started unpacking the daily devo all about baptism. So I sent her the devo thanks to tech of cloud based storage and accessibility via my phone. She offered to help the next night with a need we had. I hadn't seen her ever get involved. She didn't come last night to our family vbs, but tonight is the last night so we shall see. Maybe a friendly text. But I have to remember the door is open. I just need to call her to set up a time to get us talking. Tonight I need to transfer the message from the parent conversation to the kids at closing and give that invitation. I just remembered the theme is God saves us and group's family event has us putting our "sins" (represented in the puffy things) into water and watching them disappear. Holy Spirit you are SO amazing! They never talk about baptism in the activity but we will. He washes us clean, saves us, giving us the gift of eternal life, and promises to never leave us alone. The first night Satan tried to shut us down with a person who wanted to argue vehemently against infant baptism and the only way to be through immersion but God is stronger! Thank you God for this encouragement and reassurance of your direction for us at our church.

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  • Richard Lofgren

    Holy Baptism is central to sacramental living, our entrance into life in God's family, the means by which we become brothers and sisters of Jesus, i.e., co-heirs with Christ. I'm so pleased to read this article about telling the Good News about Jesus in Baptism, and I am encouraged by it in witnessing to others about God's gracious invitation to them "through the water and the Word."

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