Monday, March 19, 2007

Going Public

I love Sundays, I really do. Most people spend their week asking the question “Is it Friday yet?” Not me! I spend every waking moment of my weekly adventure asking, “Is it Sunday yet?” Sundays are a total rush for me. I wish that every day of the week could be Sunday. But this Sunday was one in a million. I have never experienced anything like it and I wonder if I will ever be part of something so utterly amazing ever again.

We ended our Vision Month last February by encouraging all of those who attend Grace Church to choose a “next step” so that they continue to move and grow in their walk with the Lord. We gave seven suggestions for such steps. One of them was “baptism.” We hadn’t talked about baptism at all during that month. On that last Sunday of the series, as I went over the seven ideas for next steps, I simply mentioned that if anyone had not followed the Lord in water baptism since they trusted Christ to be their Savior, than this was their next step. That morning 42 people committed to being baptized. WOW!

The very next week, the first Sunday of March, we started a new series called Just Add Water and I spent two weeks on what the Bible teaches about baptism. We again gave the challenge and encouragement for people to take this step of faith and obedience. As a result we had planned a baptismal service for last Sunday, March 18. We were hoping for 50 baptisms which would have definitely been the largest baptismal service our church has ever had. With the 42 people who had already expressed interest added to those who may feel led to do the same through the 2-week series on baptism, we thought we had a good chance to see the Lord blow us away and give us as many as 60 people to be baptized which would have been 30 people in each morning worship service.

Suddenly, things took off in a way that was a complete “God thing.” Once the number hit 70 we begin to panic (in a very excited sort of way). We had a logistical meeting and decided it would be best to use two tanks. Not only would we use the “hot tub” that we normally use for baptism, we also purchased a “blow-up pool” so that we could baptize in two different “tanks” (and I use the term “tank” loosely…a hot tub and a blow up pool are not exactly the prototypical Grace Brethren baptismal venue).However, things got even more “bizarre” in a Spirit-led kind of way. By the time I took off for the Unleash conference that I attended in South Carolina last week, the count had risen to 82 people who were taking this step by publicly identifying with the God of the Bible.

On Thursday I got a fax at my hotel from my Administrative Assistant, Sheri Sell, with the updated baptismal list. The count was now at 104. At one point it reached as high as 108 but we ended up baptizing 104 people on Sunday. For those keeping score at home, that is 104 baptisms in a trine immersion mode for a total of 312 dips.

So tell me, when was the last time you sat in church and heard so many stories of God’s grace and His salvation? No, it was not our typical baptismal service but hey…it was worth it! It was wonderful! I loved last Sunday! I love every Sunday! Way to go God!!

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