Last night we had the awesome joy of holding our third baptism gathering of the year. It's rapidly becoming one of my favorite things to do. I know you might be thinking... "No kidding, of course you love baptisms!" But like all things in church planting, it takes time to figure it out. When we first started, we would include baptisms as a part of our Sunday morning gathering. We used a HUGE rented baptistery that is sort of like a hot tub. Of course it was fun and exciting because we were still celebrating new life in Christ, but it also felt a bit rushed. That hurried feeling definitely took something away from the celebration. So we just kept trying things a little different until we came up with the idea of having an entire gathering dedicated to baptisms. We wanted "new life in Christ" to be the focus of the entire gathering. We wanted it to be a party.
Well, we partied last night! It was amazing. We planned on baptizing three people which is exciting. We got to film them sharing their stories, work with them through that process to help them develop an understanding of what God had been and is still doing in their life as well as getting to coach them on telling their story with confidence. But then Sunday morning came and 2 more young men that we've been working with felt called to take this huge step too. I got to talk with them about what it means to put their trust in Jesus. It's just an amazingly unique experience for each person, but it's all founded on the one true gospel. I love it!
Well last night we gathered at the spot to celebrate new life... to party. We started with some worship songs and as always it takes a few moments to get our focus on Jesus. But by the final song we were declaring "How great is our God" in a beautiful anthem from a fledgling local church. We took moments to pray and moments for the congregation to shout out why God is great to them. And then we opened God's word, briefly, and talked about the "why" of baptism. We talked about the reality that every time someone is baptized, the are giving a "visible sermon" of the gospel message. Our sins are put to death with Jesus on the cross and we are given new life through the power of the resurrection. Beautiful.
Then the video of Tiffany Thurman played. You've probably read about Tiffany on my blog before. We met her through our last Community Dinner outreach and she was hungry to know Jesus. My wife began discipling her to Jesus and then finally, she decided to put her trust in him! Now my wife is discipling her in Jesus and I have no doubt that she is going to be a passionate disciple-maker herself. Baptizing Tiffany, with her husband and kids in the congregation cheering her on was a beautifully inspiring moment.
The other 4 came into the waters of baptism and publicly professed their faith in King Jesus. Every time a person came out of the water the congregation cheered. Not polite clapping... a roar like you would hear at a sporting event. Cheering as if someones life had been saved! Imagine that? One of the 4 recently had foot surgery. But she was determined. With a cast on her leg she hoisted herself up into the tub, trash-bagged foot hanging over the side and declared herself a follower of Jesus. What a powerful testimony of devotion.
I'm in awe this morning. In awe of what God has done and is doing. After the gathering a young man that I have been working with off and on for a years now came to me in tears. He told me he was ready to change. Ready to surrender. Right there, as a result of that "visible sermon" of baptism. This young man put his trust in Jesus. Please pray for him. It's a long road ahead. But with the Holy Spirit's power, all things are possible.
I want to challenge you this morning. When was the last time you shared the gospel with someone? It's never easy. It's awkward and challenging for me every time. But someones life is at stake. And when was the last time your congregation stood up and roared when a new believer came out of the waters of baptism? Lets all commit to party like the angels when lives are changed by the gospel!