As a student pastor, baptism was one of my favorite parts of ministry! It is a profound privilege to share in the moment of celebration and victory in Jesus that a person feels on the day of their baptism. My passion for seeing students saved and baptized was something that I kept constantly in front of my students because those are things that I wanted my students to be passionate about as well. To put it simply, the truth of this is that when our students become passionate about the right things, many of the wrong things seem to fade away, and the right things produce more and more right things.
Here are 4 reasons your students should be passionate about baptism.
- Baptism is the first step of obedience.
In Acts 2:37-38 the scripture says, “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In Peter’s mind, these two things, salvation and baptism, went hand in hand. When the hearer comes to the realization of their sin, its consequences, what Christ sacrificed to purchase their forgiveness, and accepts the Lord’s call to submit their life to Him, there is a miraculous work that is done in their life. Then, because we are not called to be a people of a secret faith hidden, we are commanded to be baptized to proclaim and celebrate before the world what has been done in the life of the new believer!
Unfortunately, this is not something that is taught and reiterated in many of our churches today, and because of both a lack of knowledge, and a lack of motivation, a great deal of our students who are saved each year are not baptized soon after they are saved. Having been in student ministry for many years, I can say with all certainty from my own experience that students who are are not baptized soon after salvation, typically stall out in their faith. There is an order that God has given us in following Him and I believe taking this first step of obedience is critical in the process of sanctification.
- Baptism gives testimony of God’s work in the lives of their friends.
As you continue to teach your students what it looks like to follow Jesus and be disciples of Him, there must be a point at which students become focused on and excited about their friends coming to know Jesus and be saved by Him. Two things that I make a REALLY big deal about in student ministry are salvation and baptism. When students see their student pastor freak out in celebration of what God is doing in the lives of kids that have been saved and baptized and heap praises on the Lord for His grace, students catch on! This should be your goal in building momentum in your ministry. When your students begin to care deeply about the eternity of the people around them, seeing 8-10 of their peers cross into faith and declare it through baptism will be like a shot of spiritual adrenaline which leads to the next point.
- A reason to party.
In teaching students the call on their lives to spread the gospel and make disciples, this first step of obedience in baptism should be cause for a party!! Kids are always looking for something to rally behind and celebrate so why not party and freak out over people getting saved and baptized! Again, teaching them the right things to celebrate is not only fun, but hugely important as they learn to weigh out what is and is not important to them in life.
- Their student pastor cares about it.
Honestly, this is a big issue. I think every student pastor would say that they care about baptism, but the numbers for the last 40 years have told us that churches have less and less of a desire to see students saved and baptized. In some cases, student guys are just terrible about follow up. Let me say this, THERE IS NO TIME FOR YOU TO BE PLAYING AROUND! If you don’t have a follow up plan, go to www.lifeway.com/reversethetrend and download the follow-up resources there to help you! Another issue is that many student pastors have stopped giving invitations. What do you think lead to all of those people getting saved in the beginning of the book of Acts? Peter invited them to be saved and baptized! Don’t shy away from presenting the gospel to your students every week, and lets together reach out to the great generation before us and point this world to Jesus!
This post was written by John Paul Basham, Student Ministry Specialist