We should make it easy for people to be baptized. It is a step of obedience. It is the first step of obedience after salvation. Many churches could double their baptisms simply by baptizing on Sunday morning as well as Sunday evening and by having the baptistry filled at all times and by having necessary preparation for such services.
This is not foreign to New Testament practice. In fact, in the New Testament, baptism immediately followed salvation. Acts 2:41 says, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Notice the words “the same day.” Hence, on Pentecost the converts were baptized immediately.
Now turn to Acts 2:47. ” Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Notice that the converts were being added to the church daily. Since the converts were being baptized before being added to the church, this would lead us to believe that they continued baptizing converts immediately upon salvation.
In Acts 8:37,38 we read, ” And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” Now here was a man whom Philip had never seen before. He was of another race and another country. He was just traveling through, yet he was baptized immediately.
Now turn to Acts 9:17,18, “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.” The Apostle Paul likewise was baptized soon after his salvation.
We also find the same thing in Acts 10:47,48. “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” In the house of Cornelius Peter had preached. Many had been saved. Now they are ready for a baptismal service.
In Acts 16:14.15 we read. “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.” Here again we have a convert. Here is a lady that perhaps Paul had never seen before, yet she was saved and immediately baptized. In this same chapter we have a similar story. Look at Acts 16:33, “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” Note the words “the same hour.”
Believing that our church should follow the New Testament pattern, the First Baptist Church of Hammond has practiced this for a number of years. To do so, however, there are certain provisions that must be made.
1. Clothing. The ladies in the church keep us supplied with baptismal robes or smocks for the new converts to wear. We have all sizes and also keep a generous supply of underclothing for the converts. This enables them to be baptized in the same service when they make their public profession of faith.
2. Towels. Scores of towels are kept available for the converts to use. This means that the convert has to bring nothing with him for baptism. He may be baptized, as was the case in the Book of Acts, on the “same day.”
3. Hairdryers. We keep a generous supply of hairdryers available (especially for the ladies) to avoid catching colds, etc.
4. Caps. We provide plastic caps for the ladies with which to cover their hair if they prefer not to get their hair wet.
5. Helpers. There are many people involved in making an immediate baptismal service possible. First, there are folks who work at the altar, talking to the new converts and, after they have trusted Jesus and are assured of salvation, explaining to them that they can be baptized immediately. These workers also point them to the door leading to the stairs and the baptismal room. Just inside the door there is a young man who is waiting for the converts pointing to the stairs leading to the baptistry. Then at the top of the stairs there is a young man to show them which is the ladies’ room and which is the men’s room. Inside the dressing room there are little stalls, about the size of a telephone booth, where the people dress for baptism. Three to five ladies work in the ladies’ room, and three to five men work in the men’s room passing out the towels, smocks, etc., and helping the converts in preparation for baptism. Then there is a person at the top of the steps leading down into the baptistry who explains to them how to be baptized before they enter the water. Then there are three of us down in the water. While I am baptizing a man, one of the men In the water is getting a lady down in the water. While the man leaves the baptistry, the lady is coming in. While she is being baptized, the third man is preparing a man and helping him down into the water. After the lady leaves, a man comes. This enables us to baptize about four to five converts a minute without any appearance of rushing and taking no less time with each person in the actual experience of baptism. We will baptize an average of twenty-five to thirty each Sunday morning, and the entire service takes only about ten minutes.
It is sad that many churches make it difficult to get baptized. Take this same logic and use it about other things that a new Christian should do. Should we let a new Christian wait awhile before he tithes? Should we make it hard for him to tithe? Should we make it hard for a new Christian to quit drinking and smoking? Should we advise him to go back to the bar for awhile to be sure he is saved? Or should we make it easy for him to quit his sins and start tithing? The sad thing is that many of us do not look upon baptism as being an act of obedience on the part of the believer. So in many cases we actually hinder him from being obedient in baptism.
We should not overlook the fact that the baptistry should be filled and warm at all services, and that the baptismal service should be an impressive one. It should be done smoothly and gracefully. People should get the idea that it is not a hard thing to get baptized. Many people do not want to get baptized because they are afraid of the water. Often times this fear is created, at least enhanced, by a pastor not taking the proper care in the actual administrating of the ordinance. If it is done in a crude, jerky way, it may strike fear into the hearts of people, especially little ones, who will not want to get baptized because they are afraid of the ordeal.