At the beginning of each year one of the Scripture Readings is about Jesus' Baptism. What a special time and great opportunity to highlight a critical time in the life of those being baptized. Here are seven things that can be done with baptisms:
1. Create and give the candidates invitations to invite family and friends to this special celebration. It is a key time in their life so why not include those special people in their life.
2. Recruit a Host(ess) who will help them get ready, answer questions and help clean up afterwards. This person provides a reassurance for them and also allows the family to be either back with them or out front where they can see things better.
3. Celebrate Communion as part of the event. In one congregation, after the candidate was dressed and back in the worship service, we had the candidate and family come forward to receive Communion (during worship while the rest of the congregation was served as usual). This was a special moment and was when we had a special prayer just with the family and gave a Bible and other gifts to them.
4. Celebrate the event as an eternity changing moment. Take pictures and put in the newsletter and on the bulletin board, talk about it, etc. Also bring it up again at special times in the life of the congregation (e.g. during stewardship events to say this is what we are about, during January when talking about baptism and remembering those who received this gift in the last year, etc.).
5. Give a Certificate and gift (e.g. Bible) as a tangible sign of what they have received and a way to honor their decision.
6. Under gird the experience with prayer. Pray as they are making the decision for the Holy Spirit's presence, power and leading. Pray during the ceremony for God's blessing on them and for the communities calling to nurture them. Pray for a designated time afterwards (tell them that you will lift them up each Monday for the next 50 days).
7. Help them move forward. Don't let the excitement and power of this experience just fade away. Instead develop a mentoring ministry (using Elders or others) who will regularly contact them, help answer questions and help them grow (contact me for a program example).
8. Each month list the baptism birthdays recognizing this special moment for people. Perhaps even send a
“baptism birthday” card.
One of the most special times in the life of the church is when a person takes the step to confess Christ and comes to be baptized. It is a time of joy, of challenge, of connection, of possibility, and more. It is a time when we need to search for how to make this time memorable. Unfortunately, I often had, or had heard of, interesting possibilities of how to spotlight this event but a lack of time focus or help to do all of those special touches. (I would love to hear your unique ideas of special things that can be done for baptisms). Here are some ideas:
*Take pictures of the person baptized. Give him/her a copy (possibly framed) of the photo and post a copy in a display at the church.
*Many church’s hallway to the baptistery is one of the least attractive areas of the facility. How about having candidates give a significant scripture passage to be painted on the wall along with the person’s name and perhaps some artwork. This would create a very special place in the church and an ongoing reminder of the baptism.
*Video the service. This could be posted, with permission, on the church website as well as given to the participant.
*Put an aquarium in the hallway or office adding a fish for each person baptized. Make sure to have an explanation of the tank.
*Have flyers around the buildings and regular articles in communications that describe the meaning, reasons and procedures for baptism as well as scriptures related to it. It would also be powerful to have personal testimonies from those who have been baptized included on the flyer or communication piece.
*Have periodic “days of baptism” on which people are invited to be baptized with or without prior planning. You might have a gathering prior this day in which the meaning of this special event is discussed.