This series of blogs will describe and explain the “5-B’s” of Evangelism of The Sports Outreach Movement. This blogs continues the discussion with a description of the third “B” – Baptism
The third step in the 5-B’s Rubric is: baptizing.
We come to what may well be the most theologically controversial of all the “5-B’s” – Baptizing. Views of Baptism have been the cause of many theological and denominational divides. Let’s first establish what all faith traditions agree upon and then the relevance of baptizing to local church Sports Outreach Ministry.
Baptism is Vital to Becoming a Disciple of Jesus Christ
All three of the Christian traditions (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant) agree on the importance of baptism but only the Protestant tradition holds to the “by faith alone” view of salvation. Furthermore, all three faith traditions, including a vast majority of protestants, would agree anyone coming to faith and converting to Christianity should be baptized, however, there are some serious disagreements about: a) the mode of baptism (sprinkling, pouring, full immersion, or a “dry cleaning” - spiritual baptism without the use of water); b) when baptism should occur (as an infant or as an adult believer); and c) perhaps more contentious, if the re-baptism of an adult who was baptized as an infant is ever right. While my intent is not to get side-tracked on this ecclesiastical (church) divide, it is worth noting there is no agreed upon consensus as to some of the baptism variations, but there is without question a unity in the belief that baptism is important for all disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Relevance of Baptism to Evangelistic-Disciplemaking
The relevance of baptism to evangelistic-disciplemaking within the 5-B Rubric has to do with how it impacts unchurched people coming to faith in Christ and engaging them in the third phase of becoming a life-long, dedicated-disciple of Jesus Christ. In addition, it is relevant to how a local church Sports Outreach helps such a people navigate their faith journey. There are three main reasons why Baptism is vital to establishing disciples of Jesus Christ.
First, it solidifies the decision of new believers to become followers of Christ. Perhaps a better way to look at it is, that it reduces any potential ambiguity about the sincerity of faith. It’s one thing to pray a prayer in a quiet reflective moment; raise a hand at an evangelistic-oriented event; or make an affirmative statement about Christ with a coach, league director or church leader. It’s quite another to publically profess faith in Jesus Christ in front of an entire church, family and friends, and also to commit to regularly participate as a member of a local church.
Second, making a public declaration of a private decision, serves as inspiration to all who were prayerfully and lovingly engaged in aiding the newly baptized believer on their spiritual journey. In addition, it also winsomely challenges others who may be considering professing Christ themselves to boldly step out and become a disciple themselves.
Third, it forever “draws a line in the sand.” Whereas, looking back, people can sometimes become confused as to whether or not they ever made a decision for Christ, memories of going through Baptismal classes, the Baptism itself, and gazing at a Baptismal certificate hanging on a wall with a specific date and signature of the officiating pastor all ensure that it was real.
Summary of Baptizing
I believe it is vital for all local church Sports Outreach Ministries to make public baptism a necessary part of their evangelistic-disciplemaking efforts and process. I believe it even more important for sports-related, para-ministries to have their athletes or coaches who come to Christ be baptized in a local church; preferably the church the para-sports ministry leader is an active member of.
Public baptism is often the determining difference between a “decision for a day” and a lifetime dedicated-disciple. Public baptism is no little thing. It is of extreme importance.
The next blog will explain the fourth “B” - Behaving
You can get a copy of Sports Outreach Fundamentals in the bookstore: https://csrm.app.neoncrm.com/np/clients/csrm/product.jsp?product=10&