NASHVILLE (BP) – North American Mission Board leaders are emphasizing and celebrating the importance of reaching the next generation through a day set aside as Student Baptism Sunday.
Shane Pruitt, NAMB’s national next gen director, said dedicating a day to celebrate the work of God in the lives of young people will communicate the importance of reaching that demographic.
“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.
“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, and the best way to celebrate this is to publicly show the world that God is saving a generation through believer’s baptism.”
Pruitt, along with Paul Worcester, NAMB national director of collegiate evangelism, is encouraging pastors and churches to share pictures and stories from Sunday on social media using the hashtag #StudentBaptismDay. The duo also provided additional graphics and promotional materials to next gen ministers in emails this week.
The emails included links to next gen discipleship resources to help equip students to live on mission.
Worcester said not only is the emphasis designed to encourage churches to baptize students on this particular Sunday, but also to celebrate the work God is doing in the students’ lives year-round.
“We wanted to do this emphasis in order to celebrate the amazing things that God is doing across the nation,” Worcester said.
“There are churches, collegiate ministries and all sorts of youth ministries that are seeing a movement of God in their ministries. We’re starting to see little outbreaks of God’s Spirit wherever the combination of passionate prayer, bold evangelism and intentional disciple-making are taking place. We wanted to have one day to celebrate that and say on a nationwide scale that God is moving, and we’re excited to continue to invest in that and call the church to focus on one of the most strategic demographics to reach.”
He added that the emphasis of Student Baptism Sunday can also serve to promote unity in the convention around reaching the next generation.
“If we’re going to turn baptisms around in general in our convention, I think it’s going to start with the next generation and students,” Worcester said. “Anything that we can do as a convention to say we want to be a convention that reaches the next generation is going to be a healthy direction for us.
“… The greatest Gospel presentation that I know is Baptism because it illustrates the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a great opportunity to expand the Gospel.”
Student Baptism Sunday will be officially added to the SBC calendar in 2022 and take place the last Sunday in October.
Pruitt said he is thankful for the leadership of other SBC entities for coming alongside to promote the emphasis, and he encourages churches in the Convention to boldly proclaim God’s positive work in the lives on students.
“At the end of the day we know that mission and vision inspire people more that guilt and shame do,” Pruitt said. “Let’s put a focus on reaching and baptizing students. Let’s celebrate it and fill social media with positive stories about Gen Z. Often, when students are mentioned publicly, it’s usually filled with doom and gloom, but I believe God is saving a generation for His glory.”