At Crossroads, we believe in making following Jesus a way of life, and baptism is an essential part of the journey of a Christ-follower.
SO, WHY BAPTISM
Before Jesus physically left the earth, he challenged his followers with this mission: “Go then, to all people everywhere and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and then teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” -Matthew 28:19-20
In Jesus’ own words, being disciples, his followers, is something that involves baptism. Baptism is Jesus’ idea, Jesus’ command, and integral to the mission for his followers.
There are many reasons why we believe that baptism is important for every person who chooses to follow Jesus. It starts with Jesus’ own example in the Gospels (see Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, and Luke 3:21-22) and continues into the Book of Acts with the first Christian communities. Throughout the New Testament, we see that each time a person declares his or her faith in Jesus, this public proclamation is followed by baptism (some examples include Acts 2:37-41, Acts 8:26-40, Acts 9:1-19, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 16:13-15, Acts 16: 25-40). Baptism illustrates Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Romans 6:3, Colossians 2:12). It declares our death to the old ways of living and the start of our new life as a son or daughter of God (Romans 6:4, 2 Corinthians 5:17). In baptism, a Christ-follower is forgiven, redeemed, and justified.
HOW DO WE BAPTIZE?
At Crossroads, we follow Jesus’ example of baptism by immersion for adults and children who are old enough to make a personal decision. Later church history gave us many forms of baptism (anointing, sprinkling, spraying, sprinkling with sand if water wasn’t available, etc.…). Still, we believe baptism by immersion is the preferred method because every baptism recorded in scripture was a baptism by immersion (see above examples from the Book of Acts). Sprinkling as a church practice came several centuries later. We don’t see examples in the New Testament of Christ-followers being sprinkled or confirmed, only baptism by immersion (or as close to immersion as was possible).
Sprinkling likely began as a way to assuage parents' fears for their sick children’s salvation (infant mortality rates were high in the ancient world) or in cases when immersion wasn’t possible (illness, injury, proximity to water, etc.). Parents who feared their sick children would not recover began choosing to have their children sprinkled around 250 CE. The regular practice of infant baptism or sprinkling didn’t become normalized until the late 400’s CE. Regardless, sprinkling was always the last choice. Given the lateness of the practice and the clear biblical preference for full immersion of believers, we at COMMUNITY hold with immersion. Immersion also best symbolizes a burial and resurrection.
WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
Everyone who believes in Jesus desires to commit to him publicly (Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12, Acts 18:8). At Crossroads, we know that many people were sprinkled or confirmed in other church traditions. This is most often a decision made by a person’s parents when an individual is an infant or young child. If you’ve been sprinkled or confirmed and are considering immersion baptism, you aren’t alone. This decision does not negate the choice your parents made. Rather it confirms their desire as you choose to make a commitment to God on your own. In the New Testament, baptism is always connected to a person’s personal faith in Jesus. Baptism is a decision every person needs to make for himself or herself. If this is something you have further questions about, we urge you to talk with a minister or Elder at Crossroads.
While we do not practice baptizing children, we do have a practice at Crossroads where parents can make a public declaration of intent before God and their church community to raise their child in the faith until the child is old enough to make his or her own personal commitment to Jesus. We call this Child Dedication, and it occurs a few times a year. If you are interested in participating in Child Dedication, please talk with one of our Family Ministers.
WHEN IS MY CHILD READY TO BE BAPTIZED?
This can be hard to discern. There is no instruction in the Bible regarding the proper age, but we can apply the same principles discussed above. Once a child is old enough to commit their life to Jesus, they are ready to be baptized. Through our Children's Ministry, we offer a family baptism class that leads parents and children through a series of questions to test their understanding and helps parents discern whether their children understand the significance of baptism and what having a relationship with God is about. As a parent, you are the best person to evaluate your child’s understanding and readiness to make this commitment. Once you feel confident in this, you can support and encourage your child’s decision to be baptized.