HOUSTON, Texas (BP) – There was only one word to describe this past Sunday (Oct. 31) at Champion Forest Baptist Church as 112 people were baptized — special. The baptisms brought the church’s total for the year to a record 601.
Senior pastor Jarrett Stephens said some people were scheduled to be baptized this past Sunday, but he decided to make an open invitation for anyone who had never been baptized to come do so. This led to a total of 112 baptisms among the church’s three campuses.
Stephens began his time at Champion Forest this January and credits the intentionality of both his staff team and the congregation for carrying on the Great Commission legacy of their previous pastors.
“I am the church’s fourth pastor in their 51-year history, and there was an evangelistic zeal in the heart of the church when I got here,” Stephens said. “They’ve always been about missions about evangelism, that’s kind of the heart-beat of this church. It’s certainly in the DNA of our people.”
One of the ways Stephens said he wants to continue that is to provide a time for people to respond to the Gospel presentation at the end of each service and then to follow up right away with baptism.
Creating a culture that celebrates genuine life-change is something he hopes will sustain the spiritual growth of the church.
“We see in Acts when someone followed Jesus, in every case they followed in believer’s baptism immediately, and baptism is simply a way of identifying with Christ,” he said.
“The Bible says all of heaven rejoices, and so we want to rejoice at what heaven rejoices at. You replicate what you celebrate, so we to celebrate lives being changed by the Gospel.”
Stephens said it was the North American Mission Board’s “Who’s Your One?” evangelism emphasis that helped the church’s efforts during a year where people were still dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic.
“I love the initiative of Who’s Your One? and I think that’s been an incredible initiative for us, and it’s elevated the role of personal evangelism in the church and specifically praying for those who are lost,” Stephens said.
“I think the Lord was preparing this place for a harvest. I believe coming out of COVID, people were searching and people were hungry. … I think God is honoring the prayers of the people here at Champion Forest.”
Beyond the immediate first step of obedience in baptism, Stephens said another important emphasis for the church is discipleship.
He pointed to two examples — a man who was saved this week during one of the church’s services and is already meeting with him for discipleship, and another man who was saved this past May. Stephens discipled him and said it’s clear to loved ones and those around him that “he’s a different guy now.”
Although this past Sunday and the entire year were “special” for the church, Stephens concluded there is no special strategy they have been employing to see this number of baptisms.
He gave God all the glory for the year that has been at Champion Forest, saying all his team has done is try to be faithful and watch God do the work.
“I believe this is because Champion Forest people have prayed, and they’re inviting their friends and neighbors and the Gospel is doing its work,” Stephens said. “There’s nothing special in what we’re doing outside of preaching God’s word and calling for people to respond to it.
“When you see people baptized, it’s a reminder of the mission that Jesus gave us. The Great Commission is the greatest mission statement that all of us can rally around.”