CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (BP) — When David Hughes was called as pastor of Church by the Glades in 1998, 470 was the average weekly attendance. Now nearly 18 years later in just one weekend, the Florida church stirred the baptismal waters with 470 new believers in Christ.
The correlation of numbers was “catalytic,” Hughes said. “It was very organic. It was one of these ‘trust God moments and see God at work.'”
Leading the baptismal candidates was a child, as Hughes baptized his 7-year-old son Zane, who had trusted Jesus some 18 months earlier with his mother. It was a meaningful moment to the pastor: “He’s my youngest and the last of my kids to be baptized.”
The record number of new believers came forward during an altar call after Hughes clearly outlined the doctrine of salvation and how to be saved in the six services held Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 27-28, at the multi-site church in Coral Springs.
“If you are here to trust Jesus,” he told the congregation, “today is the day.”
Hughes carefully walked the congregation through Acts 16, when Paul and Silas refused to escape from prison after an earthquake freed the pair — and the jailer and his family were saved.
The South Florida pastor had been preaching a series on “Family Bond” and specifically challenged fathers in this message to be the spiritual leaders in their households.
Baptism — which follows salvation — is through immersion and is a symbol of salvation as Christ commanded, Hughes noted, calling it a matter of obedience.
For those who had been baptized as a baby, believer’s baptism “completes what your parents began,” Hughes said, adding that baptism of babies was never once recorded in the Bible.
And then, with cameras rolling, Hughes and Zane sped outdoors to a large above-ground portable pool brought on the church property for that purpose where the youngster was baptized. In the following services, the father and son presented visual demonstrations of the act of baptism to help this largely unchurched community understand more fully its meaning.
Mass baptisms are held annually at Church by the Glades, which averages 9,000 in attendance at six services each weekend in the Coral Springs location, two other campuses and two prison facilities. But this was the largest number of new believers to be baptized at one time.
Baptism is observed every week at the church, as the Holy Spirit moves, Hughes said. A supply of T-shirts and shorts are maintained at the church. Extras were brought in for this service.
The congregation reported 1,210 baptisms in 2015, the second highest among Florida Baptist churches.
To view the worship service, go to http://cbglades.com/teachings/family-bond/4.