Who? If you haven’t been baptised yet or your children haven’t been, I’d encourage you to talk to one of our pastors soon. Baptism is usually done as part of normal church services because when a person becomes a follower of Jesus, they become part of his family, the local church. We’ll sometimes go to Swallow Rock or Cronulla if more water is requested! Baptisms are a great time for the family of God to rejoice at a new church family member (by birth or by conversion) and pray for them to continue “Christ’s faithful servant forever”, as our baptism service says. They may already have joined the team and be playing for Christ, but in baptism we publically put the jersey on them!
Why do we baptise babies, as well as youth and adults?
A Biblical reason – because families (households) are important and included in God’s covenant, in both OT and NT times. For example, the Philippian jailer and his whole household were baptised in Acts 16:29-34, as the father brought all the family under that covenant by his conversion. But there’s no justification for baptising the children of parents who don’t yet believe in Jesus.
A practical reason – because most Christian parents rightly raise their as children as if they are already part of God’s family praying to God their “Father”. They don’t treat their children as little non-Christians or as people in spiritual limbo. They treat their children as if they are part of the family of grace and then urge them to keep trusting God, to keep turning to Jesus. If we pray and encourage our children to trust Jesus from the start, why not give them the sign at the start? If a child or youth turns away from Christ for a while and then comes back to the Lord or makes a new commitment to him, we don’t rebaptise them. Otherwise we’d be baptising people heaps of times since Christians sometimes let the Lord down, turn away for a while and then come back. Look at Peter. Jesus didn’t rebaptise him when he restored him in John 21:15f.
Most churches, including ours, don’t believe that the amount of water involved is important. The Anglican Church is flexible and allows for full emersion, dipping or splashing water around. This is because we believe that WHAT it symbolises ie. the washing of forgiveness, matters more than THE SYMBOL itself. We don’t believe that the water is holy or special either, as some churches do such as the Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches.
In our Anglican church, we also have Confirmation, which is an opportunity for those who have been baptised as infants to publicly “confirm” their personal faith, which their parents promised for them. Confirmation isn’t commanded in the Bible, but if a person wants it, why not? In our church, we also have a short service called “Transfer of Membership” which allows those who have been baptised and members of other churches, to transfer their membership to the Anglican Church, without Confirmation. My wife Jane did this, having been baptised as a teenager in the Baptist Church. Some churches forbid people to take Holy Communion unless they have been baptised and confirmed. That seems very heavy handed and unnecessary to me these days.
Your brother in Christ, Graham Crew