“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19 NIV)
Baptism is not only important because it is commanded by Christ, but also because it is part of the church’s fulfilling of Christ’s Great Commission. It’s not just the first thing that a new convert should do upon coming into the church, but it’s also the first thing that the church should do for a new convert. Notice, I said “the first thing” the church should do for a new convert, not “the last thing.”
Too many churches today dunk and drop new converts. They mistakenly believe that Christ commissioned us to make decisions rather than disciples. While we’re pretty good at making decisions, we’re pretty dismal at making disciples, as the following statistics prove.
- Over 70% of those making decisions for Christ today never grow to become a faithful member of a local church.
- The majority of those making decisions for Christ today have dropped out of church within six to eight weeks.
- Over 1/3 of those making decisions for Christ today cannot be found by the church that baptized them one year later.
It sounds to me like today’s church is better at making dropouts than disciples. If we want this to change, it will necessitate a change in the church’s view of baptism. Rather than viewing baptism as the end of the church’s work with new converts, we must start seeing it as the beginning of our work with new converts. It marks the commencement of the discipleship process, not the completion of it.
“Evangelism is not evangelism until the evangelized become evangelists.” (Dr. Leon Simpson)