Baptism: Immediately After Conversion? Wait?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Tom Butler, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    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!
     
  2. Benjamin

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    On a personal level, I find your inventive bureaucracy and supposed authoritative power and role of being the line drawer before filling a request for baptism to be very disturbing.

    Also, there seems to be a lot of judgment being based on attendance, yet…

    I suspect that people losing their interest in going to a particular church often doesn’t have as much to do with their profession of faith being real or not as you suppose. Have you ever considered that non-attendance might have more to do with the type of leadership, related testing, judgment and their “required instructions” at a particular church rather than their faith being real?

    Could be…
     
    #2 Benjamin, Dec 29, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2011
  3. Zenas

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    Tom, your frustration with absent members is jumping off my computer screen and to a great extent I can identify with it. About 65% of our members are also unaccounted for. How do you hang on to them? Come up with the answer to that question and most of our churches will be happily engaged in building programs.

    But how many adults do we get through profession of faith and baptism? I don't know about you but we get very few. Most new members fall into one of two categories. (1) Children. These kids have received church training since the day they were born, and they will continue to receive it after they are baptized. I don't know what more we could do there, although I have heard people say the main problem with teaching of youth is that we don't prepare them for life after the youth group. That's for another thread. (2) Transfers of letter. These people come in without baptism, so there is nothing to withhold from them. Perhaps we could require a period of training and orientation for them, say six months to one year.

    The bottom line, I guess, is that I recognize the problem. Most who read these posts recognize it, but I'm not sure waiting on baptism is the solution.
     
  4. Scarlett O.

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    I see a problem.

    "Joe Smith" comes forward on a Sunday morning and says that he wants to be saved. Over the course of the next 35 seconds, he and the preacher say and quick prayer together. Then Joe sits down and during the remainder of the invitation, he fills out a card. He is baptized that night and his name is added to the church roll.....and everyone, including Joe, believes that Joe is "in like Flinn".

    ....but is he?

    How are we to know since once his name is on the church roll, we never question him about it nor is Joe ever required to bear witness of his salvation. All we ever ask of Joe is that he show up every once in a while and sit on a pew. In fact, the church may never see Joe again, but his name stays on that roll forever.
     
  5. Christie1107

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    You make a good point and I agree.

    Too many people have gotten baptized right after they got saved and are no where to be seen. I have a few converts that have done that.

    I know of some also who have gotten baptized right after they got saved and questioned their salvation for the longest time.

    My pastor learned long ago (which is why we have the deacons and assistant pastors up at the altar every service) that a person needs to understand completely that they are saved before they get baptized.

    But he does stress that we are to be baptized shortly after we are saved if we truly want to grow in the Lord.

    I think it all has to do with each individual. I was saved when I was a teenager, I had no idea what that meant. It wasn't until 15 years later that I learned the truth, got reassured of my salvation, and professed my faith through baptism.

    It's a matter of where we are in our lives and our willingness to follow the will of God once we figure out what His will is.
     
  6. Christie1107

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    How are we to know since once his name is on the church roll, we never question him about it nor is Joe ever required to bear witness of his salvation. All we ever ask of Joe is that he show up every once in a while and sit on a pew. In fact, the church may never see Joe again, but his name stays on that roll forever.[/QUOTE]

    We do not automatically add a person to our church roll after they are baptized. They join the church on their own, but must be saved and baptized if they want to join.
     
  7. HAMel

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    In my humble opinion any given local church is it's own worst enemy. No need to point the finger beyond the doors.

    I've been attending church since 1972. You know how many times I've been preached to about my need for salvation? You see, when I sit and listen to a preacher he's speaking directly to me. Don't know why but that's how I see it. He's speaking "directly" to me and I've been on a thousand guilt trips and doubted my salvation a thousand times. I'm quite sure the Lord has sat up there just shaking his head at me.

    My wife and I just recently left the Haws Run Hen House Church as the gossip was absolutely out of control and extremely destructive.

    Is it any wonder that believers fall by the way side when all they can expect is service after service after service patterned after the status quo? Members walk away left to their own devices as they are only being "preached" to.

    Where's the fellowship in today's congregations? Family owned an operated local churches operate today just as they did back in 1947 when Grandpa Jones became the first pastor after laying the corner stone. Should a disease wipe out the entire Jones Family the church would close up.

    My father had a broken back. He never got baptized. He couldn't get baptized because of his medical condition. Does that make him a bad guy?
     
  8. Christie1107

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    I am sorry to hear that you had a preacher that made you feel as though you had to constantly question your salvation. Preachers always give an invitation, but it shouldn't make you feel as though you are the one convicted.

    Baptism does not save you, only believing in Christ and receiving Him does that. Your father is saved and that is the most important thing. That is the power of God's gift of salvation by grace. He knows we cannot do everything we are commanded to do, that is why no one can get to heaven without Him.
     
  9. Bob Alkire

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    Many of the churches when I was young baptized in a creek one to three or four times a year and many others did it a few times a year in the ocean. So with what I've seen in my past, I don't know how quick one should be baptized, I guess if you have a tank, it could be done rather quickly.

    Why are so few in church? Leadership has a lot to do with it, as well as the older folks think to much money is being spent on other groups and other groups think to much money and time is not being spent on them. Many churches it is hard to get to the pastor,(senior past or head pastor or what ever he is called) you speak to an associate. Some people don't like that, when they go to the car dealer they speak to the owner or sales manager, at the bank many speak only with the president of the local bank or loan manager if it is about a loan. There is a man in town that said, it was easier for him to get an appointment with our congressmen that his pastor. I never had that problem with associate, I never was pastor of a church than ran much over 300 on Sunday and the rest only ran between 200 to about 250 on Sunday, so there was no need or money for an associate.

    I'm sure there are folks that got saved in church service, but all that I've dealt with has come to salvation through reading the Bible or a Bible study with a friend or a outreach deal or SS. They knew they had accepted Christ as their Savior before they came down the isle or went into talk with the pastor or what ever the method in the church was.
     
  10. JesusFan

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    Couple of things on this important topic!

    Acts is a Book that many find as the source of teaching, such as jesus Only for "in name of jesus only", others find second act/work of Grace by the HS etc...

    Think that there was a definite reason why the converts were immediatly baptised after saved at pentacost...

    they were the first fruits of the jewish harvest by God, they already knew the claims of the jewish messiah, knew that baptism meant they agreed with Him as being the real messiah... Fulfilling the scriptures on Tongues from God...

    After that group though...

    the Ethopian Eunech was testified to, and was asked IF he knew what he was reading, and if he had believed on jesus...

    Contrast that with the Lords own admonition to his Church, to convert/teach/make disples and also water baptise them...
    Seems to be instruction/teach implied in there!

    Also, what was the practice of baptising after Book of Acts, didn't Paul say that he only "did a few", but was more into preaching on risen Christ?

    Side note...

    My church has an official policy to not baptise until age 12, as we believe that the Lord can save even small kids, but see them as being initiated into church per say at that age, roughly same as the jewish rite to manhood!
     
    #10 JesusFan, Dec 29, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2011
  11. HAMel

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    I am sorry to hear that you had a preacher that made you feel as though you had to constantly question your salvation. Preachers always give an invitation, but it shouldn't make you feel as though you are the one convicted.

    Baptism does not save you, only believing in Christ and receiving Him does that. Your father is saved and that is the most important thing. That is the power of God's gift of salvation by grace. He knows we cannot do everything we are commanded to do, that is why no one can get to heaven without Him.


    It hasn't all been one preacher..., it's been most of them. My employment caused our family to relocate quite frequently. Consequently, many churches and we found them all the same.

    In any given Baptist Church on a Sunday Morning it's a congregational song, a prayer, announcements by the pastor, Choir, song, tithes, song. Nothing changes. Well, how could things change, you might ask?

    Things can and will change if the entire congregation is open to the leadership of the Lord. I've heard pastors say they prepared to speak on Revelations Chapter 7..., but felt the Lord was leading them to preach from Mark Chapter 2.

    I think one issue is that most congregations are happy to wait on the Pastor to assume the role of "Leadership" when in fact he should be the "Shepard" watching over the flock. All I am suggesting is that church meetings need to be free. Free from the burden of procedure and starch. That attendees feel comfortable and welcome and dispense with the formality whenever feasible. Not that a church should be totally absent of all formality but allow the body to participate.

    Many people were twisted out of shape because of Charles Stanley. Hey, his wife left him and he is to be held accountable? Where's the logic here. Churches create their own problems and just charge ahead as if nothing is wrong.
     
  12. JesusFan

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    To me, by far, the bigger problem of the church breakingits rules relating to pastors was when Jimmy Swaggert was caught with his lady friend, clear adultry, and the AoG policy is 1 year down time, with intensive couseling, and a review before going back to pastoring...

    His La branch just did 3 months, and right back to work he was aloowed to go!
     
  13. HAMel

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    All the First Self-Righteous Baptist Churches in Everytown, America has done more to drive people away than any effort from all the Organized Christian De-bunkers in the phone book. It's a shame and with this, some will now sit in scorn and judgement of me.

    ...so be it.
     
  14. JesusFan

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    Any examples come to mind?
     
  15. freeatlast

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    Immediately After Conversion.
     
  16. JesusFan

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    even if the Christian wants to have it delayed for a valid reason?

    would that make the saint unsaved or something?
     
  17. HAMel

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    Any examples come to mind?

    Yep. Church membership is dwindling nation wide; youth are not interested and otherwise rebellious; unwed mothers are the norm now-a-days; drugs rule supreme in our streets; the moral decay of our local, State and Federal Governments is astounding; Wall Street Greed and the money changers; Socialism is now very attractive to an otherwise free nation; Sirian Law is creeping into this country; crime is out of sight; the cost of the illegal criminal invasion taxing our individual communities; homosexuality is to be mainstream; God's Word is now considered Hate Speech; Nativity Scenes banned from public view; all the while the average Baptist sits back following the age old protocol of a song, announcements, Choir, song, tithes, song, sermon, gossip, talk, you need to be saved see 'ya back tonight at 6.

    Look, I'm not really trying to be such a negative person here but show me something different. Point out a Baptist Church where something different is happening..., and I don't mean some mega church somewhere. I'm referring to the average community church.
     
  18. freeatlast

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    Baptism does not save.Other then a medical reason I know of no valid reason to delay Baptism.
     
  19. Salty

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    Let me ask you this question.

    Suppose a young couple come foward and were saved -
    but they are shacking up -
    Would you baptize them immediately ?


    Scripture please


    As for myself - it may have been a year or so after my salvation. After I made my intention know to the pastor, I went thur a new members class - it lasted 13 weeks (Sunday evenings )
    Afterwords I was then baptized.

    I am so glad it happened this way! By going thur the 13 week course, I fully understood (for a 13 yo) what Baptism was all about and I was able to appreciate my baptism so more intensely

    In addition I agree with the comments about only 20-30% of "church members" are active. Baptism as well as church membership indicates a commitment.

    On one of the other threads it was mention that often in the NT, baptism did immediately follow salvation - but not always.
    In addition - in other cultures -Baptism has a much stronger meaning than it does in our current culture - esp in the USA.

    (would love to hear from Jim and some of our other non USA residents on this)

    Jesus Fan said his church will not baptize a pre-teen - I agree! Lets give some Biblical meat before baptism.
     
  20. JesusFan

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    perhaps some wanted to wait intil later in year, to be baptise in local river
    some wanted to wait in order to grow some in their walk, in order to better appreciate it
    some wanted to be instructed in what it really means

    Some belong to churches that have formal baptists say each quarter for new christians

    Would you apply same standard to celebrating Communion, as some do it weekly/monthy some even only once a year!

    Should the church doit 'every time" that we gather to procalim His returning?
     
    #20 JesusFan, Dec 29, 2011
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