Baptism Revisited

Chris Moroney was prompted to write by the article “Ritual and Reality” in Briefing #9:

My experience is quite different. No-one I’ve talked with has chosen the ‘No Frills’ baptism. In the past, I have presented it too negatively, as an option for non-believers.

As a young pastor I have evolved various strategies over my two years in this area. Laying down my initial requirement that the couple should attend church once either created offence or met with rejection.

I still have that requirement but now I am able to be positive. “The way we do things here is to first of all give thanks to God for your baby. How is he/she going? It’s a simple couple of prayers. How about next Sunday? Fine. On Sunday I’ll introduce you to a couple of people who will make a time to talk with you both about baptism and then we can set a date. Thanks–look forward to seeing you Sunday.”

At the Thanksgiving Service the whole congregation meets the new couple. After our meeting, members try to welcome the couple and get to know them. The two people rostered for the interview also introduce themselves.

The results? Firstly, the congregation are not seeing baptism of ‘absolute’ strangers. Secondly, the family feels warmly welcomed. Thirdly, we now have a greater percentage of inquirers going through with baptism. Although there will always be doubts about the profession of faith, this system gives us an avenue for follow-up.

Previously, we felt uncomfortable giving invitations to special events to people who refused to attend church once. Now we add to our list for invitations and follow-up every month.

In light of the ideas already expressed in this issue, Chris’s comments are timely. If the challenge before us is to reform our practice from a Biblical perspective in order to fulfil the mission Christ has given us, this kind of experimentation is what is needed.

Does anyone else have examples of this in practice?

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