EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee. In 2018, the convention adopted a report of the Evangelism Task Force that called on Southern Baptist churches to set aside a Sunday to focus on calling people to profess their faith in Jesus Christ through the waters of baptism. In response to that report, Sept. 8 has been placed on the SBC events calendar for Baptism Day 2019. Baptist Press will be releasing a series of columns leading up to Sept. 8. For resources, go to namb.net/baptism-sunday-resources/.
NASHVILLE (BP) -- A special day of baptism will set your church on fire. There is nothing like the joy of baptizing a person who has been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.
On Sept. 8, our 2019 Baptism Sunday, we are asking every Southern Baptist church to do everything they can to have a special day for baptizing new believers in Jesus Christ. We must recapture the culture of the early church. Those early believers were baptized immediately upon their response to trust and follow Jesus as their Lord.
One way we can begin creating and living and breathing a culture of gospel urgency is to make much of this nationwide, coordinated celebration of believer's baptism. The testimony of baptism is so powerful that no one can deny its authenticity. The testimony of life change that is lived out before the church through baptism leads a church to celebrate what God is doing. It reminds the church of the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Above everything else, we must again become a convention of churches that believes PEOPLE NEED JESUS and PEOPLE NEED JESUS NOW.
Pastor, begin this Sunday in your church, calling people to join you in the waters of baptism on Sunday, Sept. 8. On that day, do not delegate baptizing to another or to an associate pastor, but you do the baptizing. Make it special. Passionately appeal these next three Sundays for people to follow Jesus in salvation and also into the baptism waters in obedience to Christ.
This kind of encouragement is not only believing the Gospel; it is living and breathing the Gospel with a deep sense of urgency. Be more intentional than ever to do this. If we believe the Gospel transforms lives, then we need to preach like it, lead like it, and extend to people the opportunity to be baptized before His church as followers of Jesus.
Pastor, study who is coming to your church that is not a member of your church. Focus on this group now and do your best to inform them of your desire for them to follow Jesus personally. If they have already confessed Christ privately, challenge them to make Sept. 8 their special day to identify with Christ openly and join your fellowship through baptism.
Southern Baptist leaders of all kinds, whether volunteers or employees, we must begin resetting our strategies and decision-making processes as leaders who live and breathe gospel urgency. Spreading the Gospel is what each Christian is to do -- wherever we are, whatever our vocation, or our location, our age, or our stage of life may be. That is what each Christian is to do and that's what Jesus tells us to do. As a network of churches, we cannot play it safe, nor can we move in slow motion in a fast-changing, real-time world.
Pastors and all preachers of God's Word, when you preach the Word of God and then extend the call for people to come to Jesus Christ, do so with your hearts on fire, living and breathing gospel urgency!
How amazing it would be if we saw more people baptized on a single Sunday on Sept. 8 than ever before! Let's call on people over the next few weeks to lay aside their fears and submit to the waters of baptism, celebrating the death, burial and resurrection of their Lord and Savior!
We are known as Baptists because we believe baptism is an outward picture of an inward change of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We also believe that baptism is a joyous celebration by the whole church that another child has been born into the family of God. It is a visible sign of our spiritual union with Christ!
Spiritually and strategically, we need a major reset. We must take our commitment to "Living and Breathing Gospel Urgency" higher than ever before. Presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and making disciples of all the nations is our mission.
It is time for Southern Baptists to come home: We need to come home to evangelism! This is who we are and what we are about.
I urge every church across our nation to pray, work, and witness between now and Sept. 8, and then stand back and see what the Lord will do in our midst!