Not all my readers are Baptists. For those of you who do not hold to my convictions, I’m not trying to stir the theological pot. For those of you who practice immersion, however, I want to provide some practical tips. I believe the few minutes just before a baptism should be intentional and strategic.
First, I’m assuming a careful process leading up to the baptism. It should be taught. The person being baptized should talk with a trusted church leader or pastor. This person should have an understanding of what is about to take place. But what should happen right before you baptize? What do you say to people in the minutes leading up to the moment?
Pray with them. Always begin with prayer. You should seek God right before baptism! I also use this time to tell them it’s ok to be nervous. The desire for obedience always pushes through the nerves. Prayer helps them stay courageous.
Explain the mechanics. I show them where I will place my hands—one on each shoulder. They place one hand on my arm for grip and use the other hand to hold their noses. I don’t grab their noses. They get to keep their own boogers. We go through one practice round, and I explain what I will say. Our team shows them the entrance and exit area. A photographer takes pictures with the families.
Celebrate. We share high-fives. We cheer. Sometimes people jump up and down with nerves. The kids tend to dance. Let the Holy Spirit celebration flow.
Teach. One last time, I describe to them exactly what is happening. Just as importantly, I tell them it is now their responsibility to make disciples. Someone shared with you; now you must do the same.
Pause. Stop and soak in the moment. The baptism process happens quickly. I encourage them to mentally, spiritually, and emotionally mark the moment. I usually say, “Stop and think about this right now. Try and remember the details. It will be over soon. But now is the time to intentionally remember.”
The time right before a baptism is a powerful moment. Be strategic and intentional with the opportunity.