In another thread, the debate was over how soon after conversion should one be baptized? One view is, as quickly as possible, citing scriptural examples as the basis. Others suggest a period of instruction first, chiefly to confirm the validity of one's profession of faith and understanding of spiritual things. Under normal circumstances, I would say baptize as quickly as it can be conveniently arranged. Most scriptures in Acts suggest it. But I suggest that in modern times, there may sometimes be good reasons to delay baptism and go for the instruction first. Here's why: The large percentage of absentee church members is troubling. What does it say when a church of say, 500 members, thinks their having a good Sunday when 200 of them show up. The other 300 heard somebody's preaching or plan of salvation, walked somebody's aisle, prayed somebody's Sinner's Prayer, made a profession of faith, got baptized under somebody's preaching at somebody's Baptist church. Yet they give no evidence of conversion...if we can find them. This suggests to me that we may be blowing an uncertain trumpet. That, in fact, in our efforts to lead them to Christ, we're pointing them elsewhere. If you were asked, "what must I do to be saved," what would you answer? Remember, we're dealing with a soul's eternal salvation here. Would it be, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."? Would it be "pray this prayer, repeat these words after me."? Would it be "Trust Christ."? Would it be "repent, and be baptized"? Would it be "this coming Sunday you go down the aisle and talk to the preacher."? Anything else? A young woman I know gives as her testimony of salvation, "well, I said the prayer." Can you say cold chills? Several years ago, three of our deacons, over a short period of time, came to the conclusion they had never been saved. What happened here? What does it say when one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention (25,000 members) can get only 10,000 of them on Sunday? What does it say when we plan the size of our facility, knowing that if half of the members show up, we won't have room for them? I say all this to make the case for waiting a bit before baptizing a new convert. Give the pastor time to counsel with them, to make sure of their understanding of spiritual things, the meaning of baptism, and to give them instruction on the responsibilities and privileges of church membership As an alternative, baptize immediately, but require instruction or some kind of probation before extending full membership privileges. That would preclude voting at business meetings, serving in any position of responsibility. During this probationary period, their only responsibility is to be taught. One can argue for immediate baptism, but what we're doing right now is producing false converts right and left, and leavening our churches with unsaved members. Many of them will disappear after awhile, but some we'll elect as deacons and teachers. I know most scriptural examples are immediate baptism. Do present-day realities mean we ought to re-evaluate our methods? Are our methods just plain wrong? Well, what do you think? Release the hounds!