Baptism as an Evangelistic Opportunity
The latest update from LifeWay Research contains one of the more encouraging stats I’ve seen this year. The heading of the release reads “Nearly all Americans would attend a friend’s baptism…if invited.”
The report included this statistic:
87 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “If invited, I would attend the baptism of a friend or a friend’s child (even if I didn’t attend that particular church).”
The key words in this phrase are “if invited.” One of the great tragedies in churches is that we do not celebrate baptisms with big enough parties – and we don’t invite friends, neighbors, family, and co-workers to join us.
The report did not differentiate between those who baptize infants or those who baptize new believers, but the overwhelming positive responses in the survey should prompt us to consider baptism as an evangelistic opportunity. It makes sense: inviting those who do not know Christ to come to hear a new believer professing faith in Jesus. The Great Commission is not reserved for mature believers. Begin the training process with baptism. Encourage the person being baptized to invite everyone they know to hear the public profession of faith.
This research corroborates an article I wrote for Outreach Magazine a couple of months ago. Below is an excerpt from this article:
We began to notice a trend in one of our recent studies. The purpose of the study was to uncover what makes an evangelistic church stand out, and several of the interviewees were using word like “exciting,” “warm,” “upbeat,” “energetic,” and “positive” to describe the church they recently joined. We knew from the numbers that their churches were reaching people for Christ, but the tone of their comments led us to believe that these churches had another intangible factor that was helping them connect with their communities.
Then we met Shirley. When we asked her how she came to Christ, she told us, “I came to the party.” This answer surprised us. Shirley was a polite and proper lady in her early 70s. She did not seem the party type.
We asked her to explain what she meant. “I received a card in the mail from the church inviting me to attend my twelve year-old grandson’s baptism and party afterwards. I had little desire to attend worship, but of course, I couldn’t refuse my grandson.”
She continued, “The service was good and the baptism was quick, but what I experienced at the party changed me.”
We listened to her talk about how the entire church celebrated with her grandson after the service. “It was when they brought out the birthday cake to signify his new birth that I began to cry. The church began to sing. I had never experienced such joy, and I knew that I wanted to have this joy.”
A simple invitation, a joyous celebration, and obedient believers are all it takes to see God do something amazing.