What Happens at a Baptism?
...and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. (Acts 2:38)
So what happens at a baptism service? At Grace Church, here is a rough sketch of what you can expect.
1. A baptism is a public service where all are welcome
Baptism is designed and intended to be a public event, putting spiritual realities on visible display. So, at Grace Church, we will usually hold baptisms on Sundays, usually either at the end of a regular Sunday worship service (kind of as a “service within a service”) or a short time after the service. You are welcome, and encouraged, to invite family and friends!
2. Baptisms can be done indoors or outdoors, in rivers, lakes, hot tubs, or church baptismal tanks.
Baptisms at Grace might take place indoors, in a borrowed hot tub or a rented church baptismal tank, or outdoors, in a stream or lake or even a parking lot using a hot tub or horse trough! Whatever is used, it will be a place where “water is plentiful” (cf. John 3:23).
3. The candidate will give a testimony before the baptism takes place.
Prior to the baptism, the candidate will be helped by the elders to prepare a written testimony (about 1 page/500 words in length, give or take). At the baptism service, before going into the water, the candidate will usually read their testimony publicly in front of everyone watching. If the candidate, for various reasons, can’t speak publicly, one of the elders will read the testimony on their behalf. Copies of the testimony will be printed for those in attendance as well.
4. The candidate will be asked, and answer, a few questions from an elder before going into the water.
After the testimony is read, the candidate will be asked a set of short questions. These questions confirm that the candidate does, indeed, confess the historic Christian faith. Kind of like the vows read at a wedding, the person being baptized will answer “yes” or “I do” to each question. The elder will then pray for the person being baptized.
5. The candidate enters the water with one of the elders and an assistant.
Then, the candidate enters the water. An elder and an assistant will stand on either side. The candidate kneels in the water, facing the congregation. Often, the candidate will hold his or her nose with the right hand, with the left hand firmly grasping the right wrist in front of the chest. The elder will place one hand on the candidate’s back, and grasp the candidate’s left wrist with the other to help plunge him or her under the water and bring him or her out.
6. The elder will recite the baptismal formula and then baptize the candidate.
The elder will address the candidate with these words: “[Name], based on your personal testimony to the grace of God, and your belief in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He will then lower the candidate backward into the water, immediately raising him or her back up.
7. The newly baptized believer will then step out of the water, as the congregation claps or cheers.
The baptized believer will step out of the water, with the help of the elder and his assistant. Someone will be waiting at the side of the water with a towel to help; if it is a woman being baptized, this person will be female and wrap her in the towel right away.
8. The service ends with everyone singing the Doxology and with a benediction.
The elder leading the service will then conclude the service by leading the congregation in singing the Doxology (a Capella) and then giving a benediction before dismissing the crowd.
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