Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Inviting people to a baptism with a different approach

Church events like baptisms present great opportunities to invite friends, family members, school or college friends, or even colleagues from work to come along to. Once these people come to church, they will also have to opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many people have come to faith through events like these over the years and they are an effective personal evangelism tool.

Before we get into that, it would be a good idea to consider what a person who has little experience of church might think about what goes on at a baptism.

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household. Acts 16: 31-34

What is going on?

I suppose that a person who comes along to a meeting like this, who only has a small amount of church experience, must wonder why the person who invited them along is going to allow themselves to be submerged in a pool of water in front of a sea of faces. 

It doesn’t make sense. Have they become a Bible basher?

Before I came to Christ I had a very low opinion of Christians indeed and thought that they were weak-minded weirdos. If I was invited to a baptism by a close friend, I would have gone along to support them, but at the same time wondering what had happened to them to even think of asking me to a church service that was not either a wedding or a funeral!

It simply wouldn’t have made sense to me because I didn’t believe in the God of the Bible. I had heard of christenings and my mother had told me about mine which I couldn’t even remember of course, because I was just a babe in arms.

Key Point: A testimony of a new believer at a baptism will often speak to the heart of a person who has coming along to observe the event. It is a powerful witness!

At most baptisms the new believer shares a short testimony of their life, how they found Christ and what He means to them. This will often speak to the heart of a person who has come along to observe the event. It is a powerful witness!

I have witnessed people who are normally quiet and would never dream of talking to a group - let alone a church full of people - share in a couple of minutes what Jesus did for them. This can be incredibly powerful and speaks volumes. I often cry at these points in services when I see what the Lord has done.

After this someone can present a short gospel message. As an evangelist I always give an invitation to unbelievers to receive Jesus and have seen many come to Christ as a result. I believe it’s an opportunity not to be missed as they may never come into a church again. I have also been at baptisms where church is packed with many unbelievers present. Sometimes the gospel either wasn’t preached, or after it was, no invitation was given.

Getting people to come along

Very often, when a new believer invites people to a baptism, some close friends and families come along which is wonderful. The great news is that often people come to Christ, their lives are changed and they go onto live a life for God. The question is then, how then can we increase the number of people attending?

A very different approach

A pastor of a rapidly growing church in America came to my house for an evening recently. He answered my many questions about what he did at his church, which had grown from around forty people to over 1600 in a four year period. During the evening we discussed the ways his church reached into the local community.

After a while we got onto the subject of water baptisms and he explained how they get very high numbers of unbelievers to attend. I will break down what they do into sections.

Write a list: Ask the new believer to write a list of people that they would like to invite. A leader goes though it with them.

Who is likely to come along?: The leader asks the who they believe will actually be coming along.

Now for really the different approach

The leader contacts the remaining people on the list by telephone: After discussing the list with the new believer, the leader asks for some information regarding others on the list. Armed with phone numbers they start calling these people.

After introducing themselves and a short preamble on the phone the leader says something like, “No doubt you are aware that your friend John is being baptised at our church next Sunday evening”. Reply, “Yes I do”.  Leader, “Well that’s great, I was talking to John yesterday and I asked him who he would really like to come along. When I did that he mentioned your name”. Reply, “Oh that’s nice”. Leader, “Well, I know that John would really appreciate it if you were to come along to this special event. Would you like to join us for the evening?”

This method has made a huge difference to the numbers attending, as well as the amount of people accepting Jesus as Lord. I like it. What do you think?