I Thank God That I Did Not Baptize
October 18, 2017
Some verses in the Bible are head-scratchers. We read them and read them again and we can’t seem to make sense of them. This is true even for preachers and pastors.
Take what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: I thank God that I did not baptize any of you… (1 Corinthians 1:14 TNIV) That verse has always baffled me. As a pastor, one of the greatest privileges I have is to be part of that sacred moment when a person comes, often with great emotion and conviction, asking me to bury them with Jesus in the waters of baptism, and then raise them up to live a new life in Him and through Him. I have baptized thousands of people over the years, and it never gets old, and it never fails to move me.
But this past weekend’s All In Baptism Weekend helped me understand what Paul meant in that passage. Let me back up and explain.
I believe God spoke to me in a very personal and powerful way the weekend before our All In Celebration to prepare me for our All In Baptism Weekend. I do not say that lightly or frequently or, at least I hope, weirdly. It was a time of God giving me a burden and a joy that is unlike anything I’ve experienced in quite a while. God just led me to pray and cry out for people to respond to Him, and then to thank Him for what He was going to do. I shared this with our Elders on the Tuesday before our baptism weekend, and that led us to one of the most meaningful prayer times I’ve ever had with any team of Elders I’ve served with. For some of them, God had already shown them the same thoughts I had been wrestling with, and we all knew it was going to be a special All In Weekend.
With all of that kind of intense and powerful preparation, last weekend couldn’t come fast enough for me!
Then, the Saturday worship gathering started at our Apopka campus. It was a good worship time, and an exciting start to the All In Celebration, but I just sensed that something was off. Some elements of the worship gathering didn’t work out like I thought they should. There were some things that distracted me and bothered me way more than they should. And when we asked for people to come and be baptized, several came–15 to be exact, which is a really great response for any other Saturday night worship time–but it didn’t turn out like I thought it would. Pastor Randy Green and I baptized almost every person who came for baptism on Saturday. In the other two pools we had prepared, we only had one baptism each. That’s definitely not what God showed me would happen.
Randy and I debriefed about it after the Saturday service, and we talked about what we could do differently on Sunday. It was suggested that he and I baptize at different pools. But, I was convinced that wasn’t the answer.
So after praying more about it Saturday night and on Sunday morning, I decided I wasn’t going to baptize at any one pool. In fact, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to be part of baptizing people at all. How crazy does that sound?
I mean, it’s a baptism weekend where we are seeking to baptize the most people we have ever baptized at one time in our history, and the Lead Pastor isn’t going to baptize? Really?
But I sensed that God didn’t want me to be the Lead Baptizer, or even the Lead Pastor on this weekend, but rather to be the Lead Cheerleader for the Holy Spirit to draw people to Jesus. I needed to step aside and just encourage and call and pray and hug and worship as people came, and others baptized.
And that’s what I did…and I have to tell you, Sunday was the sweetest, most freeing, wonderful time of worship I’ve ever been a part of as a pastor. And people came to be baptized like never before, in all three pools, often with lines waiting at each of them. And I just kept cheering and slapping high fives and praying and singing and shouting glory to God for each one.
And, at the end of the weekend, 130 total people were baptized–121 at Apopka and 9 at Mount Dora.
We showed a brief recap video of our 15 years of ministry as Journey Christian Church. One of the clips in the video showed a past associate pastor, during the ground-breaking ceremony for the Apopka campus, saying that the Lead Pastor at the time, Dan Donaldson, had a vision of the day when over 100 people would give their life to Jesus in a single day.
Friends, that day happened last Sunday, when 107 people on Sunday alone went All In by going All Under in the name of Jesus. And, by the way, former Lead Pastor Dan Donaldson was here to see much of it as he was in town for a wedding that involved his son and my daughter…but that’s a story-and a dance-for another day.
If you weren’t here last weekend, get to a Journey campus this weekend and cheer on the highlight video. If you were here last weekend, cheer even louder than you did last weekend!
If you were one of the ones baptized last weekend, get to NEXT this weekend at the Apopka campus (it’s after every service in the Volunteer Room) and take some needed next steps in your new or renewed walk with Jesus.
If you think, “I wish I could have been baptized last weekend, but I missed it.” I’ve got some really good news for you, my friend: Our baptistery is always open and ready for you! Most importantly, God is still calling people to Himself–you included–and it’s never too late to go All In with Him. Never!
If you are wondering about the 1-5 Offering, join us this weekend as we make the announcement. Hint: it was very good…but it’s not too late for you to give to it either! Click here and select “1-5 Offering” fund and make your 1-5 offering before the weekend so it can be included in the announcement!
Thank you, Journey. I love being your pastor. You are the church I always hoped God would let me lead. Thanks for letting me be me. Thanks for giving me the freedom NOT to baptize on our biggest baptism weekend ever.
Thanks for engaging in such a powerful way in worship. Thanks for praying for people to go All In. Thanks for encouraging them. Thanks for loving the Journey. I’m loving the journey with you!