A FOCUS ON BAPTISM
Four years ago, as I was sitting at the O2 Conference (then called the wiki conference), I was struck as speaker and founder of FiveTwo, Bill Woolsey spoke about baptisms. He stated that his church always had goals for baptisms, and prayed that God would use them to baptize 10% of their average weekend service attendance.
This launched a conversation around our Leadership Team about our baptismal prayer to the Lord each year. We too, boldly pray that we will be able to baptize at least 10% of our attendance at weekend services. But, we also then began to pray as Lutheran’s that 10% of all our baptisms each year would be adults.
We realized that we didn’t really speak about baptism and the necessity and ease of baptism on a regular basis.
As we prayed about this, we began to strategize ways to have baptismal conversations. We began to ask simple questions.
To our wedding couples we asked if they were baptized, and then asked about their families, and if they were baptized. We then carried that to the ministry of care through funerals and began to ask those families about baptism, not just about the baptism of the deceased. Then, we began to think about our other major ministries; and began to engage our VBS families and asked if their children attending VBS are baptized, and if not, would they like to be. Last year, we had 5 baptisms on the last day of VBS and it was awesome!
It doesn’t stop there for us. We have engaged each staff member and each weekend attendee as a baptism ambassador. We’ve invited them to have the conversations with everyone — with those they work with, with those they’re neighbors of, with those they see and come into contact with. It’s an easy conversation. It can begin with, “Tell me about your baptism?”, or “This week at our church we talked about baptism. Are you baptized?”.
While we haven’t yet reached our goal of a total of 10%, we did exceed our goal of adult baptisms. Our congregation celebrated 98 total baptisms last year, 11 of them were adults. One weekend we had 9 baptisms and 2 of the 9 were adults. It was encouraging to see our congregation excited to see God at work in their midst.
We have discovered that some in our surrounding community thought it was difficult to be baptized, or didn’t know how to even find out about baptism. Now they know; and now we see opportunities to be used by His Spirit to grow His family, through the great gift of Baptism.
To learn more about Immanuel Lutheran Church & Shool in Macomb, MI visit www.immlutheran.org.
BY GREG GRIFFITH, LEAD PASTOR, IMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH & SCHOOL-MACOMB, MI.
A companion piece to Bill Woolsey’s Seven Steps To Start: A Sacramental Entrepreneur’s Guide To Launching Startups That Thrive. For the most part this 8-week study was written to make the idea of starting something new to reach new accessible to non-church professional people of varying ages and backgrounds.