We all know that Jesus is the one who brings salvation to those who do not believe yet. He is in charge of “making decisions”; however, He did leave us with a “Great Commission,” and in that commission, He said, “Go and make disciples…”. Of course, part of that disciple-making process is people taking their next step in water baptism.
With that said, here are seven ways to increase baptisms in your church:
1. PREACH THE GOSPEL WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND REGULARLY
If your congregation does not have a place to bring their not yet believing friends to so that they can hear the gospel, they will not bring them. Make your services a place of hope and refuge for those far from God. This means you must preach the gospel and give people a way to respond. I grew up in a tradition that had “come forward altar calls.” I am not advocating that; however, I do believe that there must be some way for people to respond to the gospel message. When this happens, more people far from God will attend your church, and more people will respond.
2. MAKE BAPTISM A PRIORITY AS A NEXT STEP
Do NOT devalue the importance of baptism as an obedient next step. I often say this from the stage: “The very first thing Jesus asks you to do after He brings you salvation is for you to be baptized. If you say ‘no,’ you have started the relationship with Jesus in disobedience” Of course, any relationship built upon disobedience is not a good one!
3. CREATE A FOLLOW-UP SYSTEM THAT IMMEDIATELY TELLS PEOPLE TO TAKE THIS NEXT STEP
When people respond to the gospel at our church, they immediately receive a Bible with a Bible Reading Plan in it and a four-minute CD with a talk from me that explains their “next steps,” of which Baptism is included. Then on Monday, they receive an email from me that congratulates them on the salvation decision as well as gives a link to a video that they can watch that again talks about baptism as their next step.
4. PROVIDE REGULAR OPPORTUNITIES TO GET BAPTIZED
In our context, we baptize about every other month. We also have one or two BIG Baptism parties a year at a local pool that we rent out or at the river. This allows for mass baptisms that create excitement and sometimes make it easier for people to take this next step. But have it on the calendar, even if it’s one person, baptize them and celebrate it!!
5. PROMOTE A BAPTISM EVENT ABOUT 30 DAYS OUT
As you plan for and get ready for your next baptism event, start promoting about 30 days out from the day of the event. You can use social media, email blasts, announcements from the stage, messages on baptism, and letters to get the word out. Bottom line: Give yourself plenty of time to get the word out so that people can respond. Then have them sign up to be baptized. As they commit, follow up through a phone call, email, etc.. to let them know what to expect and answer any questions.
6. ALLOW OTHER LEADERS TO BAPTIZE
As your church grows, different people connect with different leaders. Give those leaders opportunities to follow up and disciple those in their ministries who need to take this next step. Then let them get in the water with them and let THEM baptize the people! This does so much for the morale of the leader as well as the church in general. It says that life change is happening in other places besides just the preaching from the stage. We have Life Groups that have had their own baptism parties. Do not be afraid to let others baptize people.
7. DO NOT FORGET ABOUT THE CHILDREN
Give your children’s leaders plenty of time to promote baptism in their classes. Make sure that they are giving the gospel and giving the age-appropriate children a chance to respond. Allow those leaders to follow up with the parents and also notify the parents of these life-changing decisions. We also offer a “Kids Baptism Class” for those children who have accepted Jesus into their lives and want to take the next steps. There is nothing like baptizing an entire family together at one time for the glory of Jesus!
Nothing, I repeat: Nothing will take the place of Jesus, stirring the heart of the believer to take that next step of baptism, but I do believe He wants us to be an important part of the process of helping them get baptized. These are just a few suggestions that have helped us.
What are some of your ideas? I would love to hear them.