The Practice of Baptism at Renew Communities
If you are reading this guide because you have placed your faith in Christ and, as a result, desire to be baptized, we are so excited about that. When we planted this church, we knew that God was calling us to see whole communities renewed by the gospel in every way: spiritually, relationally, economically, emotionally, and psychologically. Yet, the basis for that renewal begins in individual people who respond to Jesus’ call to find their life in him and live a life that looks like his. Ultimately, baptism is a commitment to God's renewal in us as an individual, it joins us to the renewed community called the Church, and it serves as a call to partner with God in the renewal of our broken world. Now you know why we are so excited that you are considering baptism as a believer. Here are some questions that we’d like for you to consider as you move forward:
What is Baptism?
The four words that describe what Renew believes about the practice of baptism are symbol, celebration, witness and incorporation.
There are deep truths behind the act of baptism. In Romans 6:1-11, Paul talks about baptism as an identification with Christ in his death in resurrection. Baptism isn’t an empty act void of meaning or significance for our walk with Christ. In fact, it symbolizes the main theme of our Christian lives - dying to ourselves and being raised to new life with Christ. In baptism, we act out what has and will continue to happen through our relationship to Christ as we faithfully walk with him. Baptism is a symbol that points to the reality of the death and resurrection of Christ taking root in our lives.
God celebrates every time one of his children is found and we should too. In Matthew 18:10-14, Jesus tells a story of a lost sheep and says that whenever a shepherd finds his sheep that he rejoices over that one sheep. Similarly, baptism is a practice where we join in God’s celebration over those whom he has found. It’s a hopeful event where we see, in physical form, the resurrection of Christ at work. In a sense, we get to experience a mini-easter whenever a baptism occurs.
Baptism would be a ridiculous act if it didn’t point to a reality greater than ourselves. Renew believes that any celebration should begin to move us towards others in our lives. So it is with baptism. This moment of celebration and individual renewal should cause us to reflect back on our own stories and fill us with a joy that propels us towards our neighbor. When we experience God’s renewal in our lives, the Spirit is usually beckoning us to be a part of the renewal in the world around us as well. As a body, we want celebration to move us into witness.
Something spiritual and unseen happens in through the experience of baptism - we are incorporated into the Trinity and the body of Christ - the Church. In Matthew 28:19-20 where Jesus gives his famous last command to his disciples, he tells them to “baptize them [new disciples] in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”. We do this in a physical way through baptism of course, but there is a spiritual reality here as well. Jesus is telling his disciples to help new disciples to immerse their lives in the love and life of the Trinity. Baptism is an act where God mysteriously and beautifully incorporates us into the Trinity and to the global body of Christ.
Why be Baptized?
Read: Matthew 3:13-17; Matthew 28:19; Ephesians 2:8-9
There are a number of valid answers to this question and an attempt to earn good favor with God is not one of them. The Bible does not suggest, and therefore Renew Communities does not believe, that the act of baptism places us in good standing with God.
Instead, Renew believes that baptism is an act of obedience for those who have already placed their faith in Christ.
Salvation is a gift from God that does not rest on the practice of baptism. When we receive the gift of salvation solely earned by Christ through his death and resurrection, we also receive a new way of life - Spirit-empowered obedience. In Jesus’ own baptism, we see an affirmation of his sonship and identity. Ultimately, baptism is a step of first obedience for the life of the believer
Who should be Baptized?
Read: Matthew 28:19; Acts 8:12; 9:18-19; 10:44-48; 16:14-15; 18:8
The consistent view of the New Testament is that someone first believes in Jesus and then is baptized as a sign of this declaration and commitment.
Acts 16:33 is often an argument for infant baptism, but at Renew, we believe in the practice of adult baptism. We understand the meaning and significance of infant baptism and if you grew up in a tradition where infant baptism was practiced, we do not want to demean that. However, when we look at baptism in Scripture, even Jesus’ baptism, we only see evidence that points to adult baptism.
If you were baptized as an infant and would like to talk more about this, please reach out to one of our pastors.
1. If you haven’t already done so, express your desire to be baptized to one of the staff members at Renew by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Share your desire to be baptized with close friends and family as a way of honoring those close to you.
3. Prepare your story to share with the body of Renew. Below are some questions to ponder as you prepare that story.
4. Ask a believer who has played a significant part of your story to baptize you. You may also ask one of the staff or pastors if they are that person.
5. Plan to be present for our next baptism service. We usually try to plan two baptism services a year and we will send out more info once that time approaches.