ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) – The annual Southern Baptist emphasis on baptism is coming up Sept. 12, and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) is encouraging churches to celebrate by baptizing new believers who have recently made professions of faith.
“Our theme for Baptism Sunday is, ‘Fill the Tank,’” said Johnny Hunt, NAMB’s senior vice president for evangelism and leadership. “We want churches to fill their baptismal tanks so those who have trusted Jesus for salvation are able to follow Christ’s example and obey the command to be baptized that Sunday.”
NAMB’s evangelism team has produced resources to help a church plan for Baptism Sunday along with evangelism resources, which are free for pastors, that help train church members to share the hope of the Gospel.
“Our aim is to encourage pastors and churches to make much of Jesus on Sept. 12 and encourage those who have been born again to follow through in believer’s baptism,” Hunt said.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) has been encouraging North Carolina churches to participate under the leadership of newly elected executive director Todd Unzicker.
“I love seeing people profess new life in Christ,” Unzicker said in an upcoming episode of the Evangelism with Johnny Hunt podcast. “I’m a Baptist by choice. I wasn’t born into this, and if we can’t come together around baptism, then we might as well all go home. We are Baptists.”
Baptism Sunday provides an opportunity for Southern Baptists to remind one another about the need to reach their communities, share the Gospel and call new believers to follow through in believers’ baptism.
“Here is what I asked a church I spoke at recently,” Unzicker said. “‘If the Lord saved every single lost person you prayed for by name, how many would be in the Kingdom of God today from just last week?’”
During the conversation, Unzicker also described how he has heard about North Carolina churches more intentionally praying for those who need Jesus in their communities and starting sermon series on evangelism in the lead up to Sept. 12.
Hunt said that pastors should also consider calling those who have yet to follow through in believer’s baptism to be obedient to Christ’s command on Baptism Sunday.
“Baptism is a sign of obedience as a profession of faith. It’s not about reaching a level of spiritual maturity,” Hunt said. “I didn’t have any spiritual background when I was saved, and there was a lot I didn’t know about Christianity when I was baptized. What I did know was that the Holy Spirit was stirring in my heart and that I was changed.”
Hunt said the current trend in churches to call for immediate response baptisms, should not be viewed as a gimmick. It is possible that some may have abused such calls to be baptized, but the New Testament pattern indicates that there was an immediate call for new believers to be baptized.
“I would never urge a pastor or a church to baptize someone who seemed unsure of their salvation,” Hunt said. “The call to immediate baptism is about creating an opportunity and inviting people to be obedient. It is not about boosting numbers or manipulating emotions.”