Getting Baptized at the Vineyard

Next baptism service: Easter Sunday

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Several times a year, our pastors baptize men and women who are beginning their journey of faith as a Christian. These Sunday morning celebrations are always filled with excitement and joy. Participation in a baptismal celebration requires attendance at a two-part preparation class. You can sign up for these classes by calling the Vineyard North offices.

Why Baptism?

Baptism was important to Jesus, so it is important to us.  Jesus himself was baptized; he baptized his earliest followers; and he instructed the apostles to baptize all of us who have decided to embrace this life-giving faith called Christianity. Whatever it is about, in God’s world baptism is big!

What We Believe

Do you believe that Jesus is God—fully man, yet wholly divine?  Do you believe that Jesus died on a cross for you, as your substitute, paying the penalty for your sins?  Have you invited Jesus to come into your heart to live his life through you?  Have you committed yourself to following him the rest of your days?  If so, the Bible teaches that you have been born again!

The next step is to be baptized.  Jesus commanded all of his followers to be baptized (Matthew 28:18-19).  Baptism is a Christian’s first big step forward in a life of submission and obedience to Jesus.  You’re no longer making your own way through life, living like you’re the captain of your own fate; you’re going public with your decision to trust and follow Jesus as your God.

Here at the Vineyard we celebrate baptisms.  When a new Christian is baptized, he is publicly declaring his faith in Jesus and testifying to the inner transformation that has begun.  As well, his baptism pictures the cleansing from sin he has experienced and, it symbolizes his spiritual union with Jesus (death, burial, resurrection).  And, each baptism serves to bring us all closer to one another as a community of men and women who are earnestly trusting and following Jesus.

Right up front, we want you to know that the Bible does not teach that a person needs to be baptized in order to be forgiven, be reconciled to God, or receive eternal life.  Salvation is by grace, through faith, alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; Luke 23:42-43).

It might be helpful to compare Christian baptism to a wedding ring.  Deciding to wear a wedding ring doesn’t make a person married.  Yet, a wedding ring is a fitting and precious symbol of a man and woman’s life-long commitment to one another.  Healthy, happily married couples treasure their rings and choose to wear them publicly to honor their marriage partners.  In the same way, Christians treasure the practice of baptism.  It communicates their deep and meaningful connection with Jesus Christ.

One more thing.  We believe that baptism is an important step in a Christian’s journey.  But, we don’t believe that baptism is one of the essential teachings of the Christian faith.  Thoughtful, sincere Christians from different denominations have earnestly disagreed in their views of baptism.  We don’t think that disagreement should be a cause for criticism or conflict.  We’ve attempted to draw our view from the Bible, rather than tradition.  But, we don’t make a practice of criticizing the traditions or beliefs of other Christians.  We certainly don’t separate ourselves from other Christians who hold alternate views.

Should I Be Baptized?

1)   If you’re a new Christian, we say “Of course!”  Jesus commanded it, and you’ve decided to trust and follow him, right?  Baptism is the first step in your new spiritual journey.  Not only does Jesus call us to be baptized, but throughout the book of Acts, the Apostles regularly baptized everyone who heard the Gospel and made a decision to trust and follow Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:12; 16:14-15).

Your baptism is one of the best opportunities you’ll ever have to invite family and friends to hear and see you declare your new relationship with Jesus.  This will be a milestone in your life that all of us will take seriously.  You’ll never forget it, and neither will we!

2)  If you’re a long-time Christian but, for whatever reason, never took this step, we say “Go for it”.  Follow your heart.  Step up to a life of bold obedience.  It’s never too late to say “Yes” to Jesus.  Tell your story, declare your new commitments, and step into the water to show everyone the new spiritual momentum you’re now experiencing.

3)  If you were baptized or christened as an infant, we’d say that experience was a wonderful expression of your parents’ faith and hopes for your life.  At that point in your life, you were a passive participant.  Your baptism didn’t signify anything about your personal faith.  So, we still recommend that you be baptized now as a sign of your faith and decision to trust and follow Jesus.  That seems to be the biblical pattern.

Why do you immerse people?

Some churches sprinkle people with a few drops of water or actually pour water over their heads and shoulders.  We immerse people in a tank of water for several reasons.  First the biblical word baptize means to immerse or dip. It’s no wonder that the examples of baptism we read in the Bible regularly took place at rivers where participants are said to have gone down into the water and come up out of the water (Mark 1:5, 9-11; John 3:23; Acts 8:38-39).  Secondly, immersion is a great picture of the inner experience of having all our sins washed away through Jesus’ sacrifice.  Thirdly, we think immersion best symbolizes our mystical union with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection—his life has become our life (Romans 6:3-14; Galatians 2:20).

When we planted this church, we met in a hotel basement.  In order to hold baptism celebrations there, we purchased a horse trough.  Horse trough baptism celebrations became such a wonderful part of our life together that when we constructed our first facility, we decided not to install a baptismal pool in our stage.  With all of the special memories attached to it, no one wanted to get rid of the horse trough!  So—you guessed it—we still baptize men and women in the horse trough!