The Baptist Church

Baptists do not baptise infants. They believe that only those who are old enough to understand what is happening to them should be baptised, and then only after they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

A new baby may be brought to church and dedicated. It is a time to thank God for the new life he has given, but does not imply membership of the Church.

Baptism in the Baptist Church always takes place in public. It is regarded as an announcement of a person’s faith, as well as the chance to witness to those who do not share the same beliefs. It is also a way for the Church to publicly welcome the newly baptised individuals into membership of the local church. Before a person is baptised, they will usually attend a series of weekly preparation classes.

Baptism in the Baptist Church involves full immersion

The ceremony of baptism

Individual Baptist churches have their own autonomy, so what they do will vary from church to church. However, the following will be typical of most Baptist churches:

  • Baptism usually takes place as part of a Sunday evening service. The candidates for baptism will sit at the front dressed in casual clothing, perhaps jeans and a shirt. Sometimes women will wear a long dress.
  • The service will start with an opening hymn, often chosen by the candidates for baptism. Then there will be prayers followed by a short sermon, usually a word of encouragement for those about to be baptised.
  • Next, the candidates need to publicly testify to their faith in Christ. They may be asked to give a brief word of witness or to talk about their conversion experience.
  • The baptismal tank - or baptistery - is then opened and the pastor, dressed in a shirt and trousers, will descend into the tank which is filled waist deep with warm water. He may be assisted by one of the elders.
  • One of the candidates for baptism will then be invited to enter the water. The pastor will ask the person “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?” and the candidate will answer “I do.”
  • The person being baptised clasps their hands in front of their chest. The pastor places one of his hands on the person’s hands and the other behind their back. The pastor then says, “On your profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ I now baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
  • The pastor, assisted by an elder, now plunges the person under the water until they are fully immersed, then quickly brings them back to a standing position. The newly baptised person then makes their way up the steps of the baptismal tank to get dried and changed.
  • A hymn is sung and the service may be followed by a short celebration of the Lord’s Supper.