Editor’s note: Sunday, Sept. 8 is Baptism Day in the Southern Baptist Convention. For resources, go to namb.net/baptism-sunday.
One of the beautiful things I like about Washington, D.C., is the number of museums located in the city. There are all kinds of museums: the Air & Space Museum, the Newseum, the National Archives Building & Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Museum of the American Indian, Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Bible Museum. This list is just a small sampling of the wonderful museums in Washington, D.C.
Museums typically tell of the past, of how life used to be. In the church we never want there to be a Baptism Museum. In too many churches, the baptismal pool (or wherever you baptize) has become a museum artifact.
Baptism is not a relic of the ancient past — baptism is an essential part of today’s church. For Christians, baptism was instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ for His church, and mandated in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).
The filling of the baptism pool with water is a tremendous reminder to the church of the message we are called to remember. We baptize believers!
As we pray that God would grant every church an increase, filling the baptism pool is also a step of faith, believing that God is the one who grows His church. We are expressing our desire to be in step with God — creating an atmosphere in our churches that moves the congregation to be concerned about the lost, all the while looking to God for His mighty move that more men, women, boys and girls will come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
On Sunday, Sept. 8, I hope my fellow Southern Baptists will join in and fill their baptism pools with water, reminding the church of the commandment to baptize. Filling the baptism pool with water is a sermon in itself.
In order to baptize, we must evangelize! If we don’t evangelize, we don’t baptize! Baptizing and evangelizing are the right and left footsteps of the church — we need both to do what Jesus commands us to do.
My friends, we don’t like to hear bad news, but if you read the statistics, our report card shows a steady decline in baptisms. Therefore, we can’t just stand by and allow our baptism pools to remain empty. If our baptism pools remain empty, then we are not winning souls to Christ.
I encourage you to fill your baptism pool with water on September 8th as a reminder that our baptism pools do not belong in a museum as a relic of an ancient past, but they belong to the living church of Jesus Christ.
Marshal Ausberry is the first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention; president of the National African American Fellowship; and senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax Station, Va.