One of the great joys of summer is to see our churches celebrating baptism in the lakes and rivers of Montana. While the sun is hot, we seek to take advantage of the narrow window of opportunity for this format, even though the water is still very much cold. As those who have responded to the Gospel with repentance and faith identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, this format creates a special connection with the Creator in His creation.
As pictures have been posted across Facebook, and God stories are shared, it’s invigorating to see God at work in the hearts and lives of people. Pastor Steve from First Baptist Cascade just shared a “spontaneous” baptism story. A father waded into the water to support his son and provide protection from the current of the Missouri, only to realize that he too needed to be baptized. He too needed to respond in obedience to Christ, so without planning or warning, he asked Pastor Steve if he too could identify with Jesus. These are God moments that stir our spirit.
At Crosspoint Church in Missoula, Pastor Bruce was preaching through 1 Peter this summer and felt led to preach a specific message on the importance of baptism. Over the last year, the church has seen incredible growth. Some had come from church backgrounds that did not teach baptism by immersion, some had been baptized as infants, and many had never been exposed to the Gospel at all. Some had walked away from God and wanted a new start.
He said, “In the text, we see the ark had one door. The invitation was for all, but once that door was closed, grace was over. It was those who entered the ark who were saved. Jesus is our ark! It is by His blood we have redemption and the forgiveness of sin, and baptism is a symbol of getting on the ark. It is a step of obedience to identify with Christ.” As Pastor Bruce challenged his congregation on the significance of baptism, 67 people responded to his message and were baptized over a two-week period. It was an incredible move of God.
Just this past week, NAMB promoted a “Baptism Sunday.” It was an effort to give churches tools and resources to be intentional about baptism, to set a plan, and to challenge their congregation. Whether it is spontaneous or planned, one or 67, baptism is an important step in our walk of faith. It is to be celebrated with testimony and rejoicing, expressing gratitude and praise! Yes, your baptism pool is a great option. The river is not required, but preaching Gospel centered messages and setting a day aside for people to respond will focus attention on one of the most important things we do as a follower of Jesus. Follow the link for ideas how to plan your next baptism service. Baptism Sunday – North American Mission Board (namb.net)