NASHVILLE (BP) – This Sunday (Oct. 30), will mark the observance of Student Baptism Sunday on the Southern Baptist Convention Calendar, and leaders across the convention are preparing for the celebration.
Shane Pruitt, national next gen director for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), told Baptist Press this date on the calendar provides an opportunity for churches to show what is most important.
“One of the things I learned as a pastor of a local church is that whatever we celebrated the most is what we were either intentionally or unintentionally discipling our people to believe is what is most important,” Pruitt said in comments to Baptist Press.
“The principle is ‘celebrate what you want to replicate.’ If we’re saying that evangelism, discipleship, living on mission and baptisms are most important, then that is what we should be celebrating the most.
“If reaching students with the Gospel is extremely important to us, then we should be intentionally celebrating when students are reached with the Gospel. The best way to celebrate this is to publicly show the world that God is saving a generation through believer’s baptism.”
Pruitt said pastors should continue to prioritize equipping the students in their ministry to reach their peers.
“I honestly believe the most effective person at reaching a college student or teenager with the Gospel is another college student or teenager that has a heart that beats with passion for Jesus, and that same heart is broken over the spiritual lostness of their own generation,” Pruitt said.
“If students are Christians with the Holy Spirit, they are not the future of the church, they are the church right now. So, we must ‘equip the saints for ministry’ to know Jesus and make Jesus known. Sometimes, those saints are teenagers and college students. Students being diligent to evangelize their friends is an extremely effective form of discipleship.”
He added that getting baptized as a public display of faith can be used as a form of evangelism itself.
“Baptism is also a great way for students to evangelize their friends and family,” Pruitt said.
“Often, people may not come to church with you when you invite them on a typical weekend. However, they will come watch you get baptized. I tell students all the time that when they get baptized, they need to use that as an opportunity to invite other people to come, because you never know what may happen; they could hear the Gospel and be saved.”
Drake Caudill has been the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Carmi, Ill., since 2018. In that time, he has seen the church grow both spiritually and also numerically.
This growth is reflected in nine baptisms scheduled for this Sunday, two of which will be students.
Caudill said the date on the SBC calendar can help show that the church celebrates baptism.
“We take baptisms seriously,” Caudill said. “It’s a decision that I never want to manipulate or twist or trick someone into. No matter who it is, it is their decision. It is something that is led by the Holy Spirit, so to see that in the life of a student, is just miraculous. To see the decision being made by a student is extremely exciting to see.
“It’s an individual identifying with Christ, that they are being buried in His death and raised to walk in newness of life. It’s also a picture of life transformation for that individual. That their life has been radically changed, and that’s only something that can be done by God. Their baptism is being publicly shown for all to see that their life has been changed by Jesus and they want to identify with that life change. We take it seriously, but we also celebrate it as well.”
Pruitt expressed his desire to use Sunday as a way to “change the narrative,” surrounding students by focusing on what ultimately matters.
“Often, when students are mentioned publicly, it’s usually filled with doom and gloom,” he said, “but I believe God is saving a generation for His glory and I am personally witnessing it on a weekly basis.
“Every local SBC church is part of a bigger family. They are part of the family of God, part of the Kingdom and part of larger SBC family. We celebrate because when a church reaches a student, we all are reaching a student because we’re all a part of the same family. As the SBC, if we don’t reach our future, we have no future.
“At the end of the day, we know that mission and vision inspires people more that guilt and shame do, so let’s put a focus on reaching and baptizing students.”
Churches are encouraged to post photos, videos and updates on social media using the hashtag #StudentBaptismDay.