What is Christian Baptism?
Water baptism is a symbolic act through which believers publicly acknowledge their need for God's forgiveness.
The people of Israel evidently began practicing baptism during the period between the end of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ. When non-Jewish people came to believe in God and wanted to become members of Israel, they were required to undergo an immersion baptism. This baptism was a symbolic washing, through which they agreed about their need for God's cleansing (forgiveness) of their sins.
By the time of Jesus, many Jewish people believed they were accepted by God simply because they were descendants of Abraham. This is what made John the Baptist's message so revolutionary. He told the Jewish people that they needed God's forgiveness just as much as non-Jewish people needed it, so he called on them to admit this need by being baptized (Matthew 3:1-12). John also proclaimed that the Messiah who was coming would be the One who would provide that cleansing.
Jesus' disciples baptized his followers (John 4:1,2), and Jesus called on all Christians to baptize those who respond to the gospel (Matthew 28:19). Throughout the book of Acts, the early Christians followed Jesus' instructions. The pattern is always the same: first, people put their faith in Jesus as their Savior—and then they were baptized to publicly state their faith (see Acts 2:41; 8:12,36-38; 9:18; 10:44-48; 16:14,15,30-34; 18:8; 19:4,5).
Christian baptism, then, is not what causes you to become a Christian—it is something you do because you have become a Christian. It is not something you do to earn God's acceptance—it is something you do because you have received the free gift of God's acceptance through faith in Christ.
Why should you be baptized?
If you have personally received Christ, you are permanently forgiven and accepted by God whether you get baptized or not (Romans 8:1; Colossians 2:13,14). However, there are some excellent reasons why you should be baptized.
First of all, Jesus asks us to get baptized (Matthew 28:19). Since he is the Lord, and since his will is always good, this should be reason enough for us.
Being baptized is an excellent opportunity for you to spiritually influence others in a positive way. Non-Christian friends and family members usually attend our baptisms, and they are often deeply struck by the testimonies of those who get baptized. Christian friends are also built up by this and motivated to continue in sharing the message of Christ.
Being baptized is also an opportunity for you to take a step of faith. Getting baptized is a little intimidating because it involves speaking to a group of people and taking a stand for your faith. It is therefore stepping outside your "comfort zone" to do something that shares Christ and serves others. Christ will challenge you to do take such steps throughout your Christian life, so you might as well discover how exciting it can be by getting baptized!
What is a Xenos baptism like?
Xenos baptisms are exciting – but different than what you may have seen in most other churches. They are informal, and starting this year (1999) usually at our new outdoor waterscape close to our main facility. Our large deck, covered shelter, and large barbecue grill add to the festive atmosphere. The baptisms are personal, because those being baptized share its meaning with the people present, and because they usually ask those who helped them come to Christ to baptize them. Part of the excitement is generated because we baptize a dozen or more people during each baptism with many of their friends and family in attendance. We view this as a time of celebration for the entire church.
After someone gives a brief explanation of the meaning of baptism, the fun begins. We will ask you to share for a few minutes about how you came to Christ and how he has made a difference in your life. Take the time to think and pray about what you say so that Christ gets the credit he deserves! You may also want to share briefly about the person you have asked to baptize you, and how he or she has helped you spiritually. After you have shared, you will get into the water to be baptized by the person(s) you asked to do the honors. You'll be greeted by applause when you emerge after getting dunked, and then you can join us in applauding the person getting baptized!