As a part of my message I talked a lot about baptism and how–in the book of Acts–all nine conversion accounts ended with people getting baptized….immediately.
We decided to give our people the opportunity to do the same thing by putting a baptistery on stage and challenging them to get baptized immediately.
I got the idea from an interview I read in the Christian Standard magazine. In the article Jeff Vines, lead minister at Christ’s Church of the Valley in California shared how they baptized 482 people on one Sunday. That article reminded me of what I’ve read about so many times in the book of Acts.
Our church is an old movie theater, so we had to be creative when installing a baptistery. We have a built-in baptistery upstairs that we use after our services are over or during the week.
Last Sunday we put a horse trough on stage and filled it with water.
At the end of my message I told people that they had no more excuses for not getting baptized. We provided towels, black t-shirts (for modesty), and plastic trash bags so they wouldn’t get their car seat wet on the ride home.
Before I finished the message in each of our three services people were coming forward.
We baptized 52 people–in their clothes–during our three services last Sunday, including my son Levi–who was baptized at the end of our 2nd service.
In the past week I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what God did last Sunday and I’ve had the chance to answer a lot of questions about the service. Let me download some thoughts I’ve had this week.
1) The leadership team of our church began praying for this service over two months ago. God is responsible for what happened last week. We praise Him & Him alone for moving powerfully last Sunday. Prayer made the difference.
2) This was not a gimmick. Except for our leadership team, no one in the congregation knew this service was coming. We didn’t say “in two weeks we’re going to have a baptism service, so be ready.” These baptisms were completely spontaneous. My team and I don’t believe that this would have had the same “feel” if we would have had it all planned out and the baptisms all saved up. What made it so overwhelming to everyone was that it was completely spontaneous and Holy Spirit-led.
3) There is nothing like baptizing your friends. In the first service I baptized my friend Steve and I’ll never forget it. He’s a great man who did a courageous thing last Sunday. I couldn’t believe he was standing there wanting to get baptized. He looked me in the eye and said, “My eyes have been open.” I love Steve and I’m honored to be serving with a man like him.
4) Don’t underestimate the power of God. There was nothing fancy about my sermon last Sunday. I just spoke the Word of God and–through the power of His Word and the Holy Spirit–people felt the need to respond. I felt like I had a front row seat for an amazing show. I’ve never felt so insignificant while standing before a group of people…and for that I praise God.
5) Don’t underestimate the courage of the people in your congregation. I saw 52 examples of courage last Sunday. People were baptized in their clothes in a horse trough on a stage in front of hundreds of people! Wow! Believe in God, but also believe in your people. Challenge them. Encourage them. Expect great things from them. Yes, last week I was amazed by God, but I was also amazed by the incredible people who responded to the call of God.
6) My faith wasn’t big enough. We had 12 towels on hand for the entire day! After the first service one of our Elders went to Walmart and bought 20 towels. That wasn’t enough. He had to go back after our second service and buy a bunch more. I was reminded that God is able to do more than we ask or imagine. My faith was super-sized last Sunday.
7) Did I tell you that we prayed like crazy for this service for the past couple of months? 🙂
And God’s not done. We have several people who are going to be baptized this Sunday after our third service including a young man who is paralyzed and in a wheel chair.
I love serving at Journey Christian Church. I love these people. I love God and I praise Him for what He’s doing in our midst.
“Lord, thank you for what you did last week. It was amazing. I praise you for your power, your goodness, and for reminding us that you are still in the revival business. I can’t wait to see what you are going to do next! In Jesus’ name, amen.”