In this last part of our three part series, we will discuss what to do when you have decided upon your church home. Congratulations on your decision to come to Christ. The first part of the process starts with coming forward to a pastor and informing him or her of your decision to come forward. The pastor will discuss the specifics of the baptism process, but a typical baptism will usually follow some routine:
- The pastor may lead you into a room for a brief interview.
- You will usually be asked a few questions about your decision, given a brief introduction to Christ and given a chance to address any concerns or questions you may have.
- After a brief interview, the church may present you with your own copy of the Bible. It will usually be the edition that the church itself uses in its sermons.
- You will be given a chance to rehearse the prayer that you will say in the baptismal.
- The pastor will lead you and anyone else who is being baptized that day to the baptismal, in front of the congregation.
- When it is your turn, you will step into the water and the pastor will begin to recite the baptismal prayer with you.
- After the prayer is complete, you will be briefly immersed in the water and congratulated by your pastor.
- You will then be given a chance to dry off and join the service.
There are some caveats to the general routine:
- You should already be a believer. If you aren’t, baptism will be nothing more than a meaningless ritual for you.
- Some churches will schedule your baptism at a later date. This is especially true of larger congregations.
- The prayer you will say in the baptismal may vary depending on the church, but will usually be some form of oath.
- Pastors will sometimes perform a private baptism at your request.
- Many churches will not allow unmarried couples who co-habitate (live together) to become a member of the church and will turn them away until they either find separate living spaces or choose to marry. If this is the case, the same will usually be true of allowing parents to take part in dedication (a public commitment made by a parent a parent to raise their children according to God’s will)
- Pastors generally will only baptize children who are of speaking age and express a genuine interest in becoming a member of the church.