Just a few months ago (after countless conversations and late night talks) one of my 6th grade students decided to get dunked. Right before he was baptized, he shared his testimony and thanked me—his small group leader. (I’m not ashamed to admit a few tears rolled down my right cheek.) I am so proud of my little 6th grade student who wanted to publicly profess his personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
A student being baptized is one of the most powerful, beautiful and memorable moments for the student pastor, small group leader, parents, church family and student’s peers. It’s a big deal.
And it raises a few questions:
- What is the role of the small group leader when deciding who is getting baptized?
- Does your church have a formal process if a student wants to get baptized? Or is it more informal?
- How does a small group leader know when a student is ready to be baptized?
- Is it biblical to let students cannonball into the baptismal?
These are great questions every small group leader needs to ask and answer. Over the years, I have jotted down a few theological and practical reminders for myself as a small group leader and for students who are considering baptism. These are ideas and practices I have found to be useful in my own experiences. However, it is always a good idea to ask a leader in your own church about how to approach this important decision with your students.
11 Baptism Reminders For Students and Small Group Leaders
- The act of baptism is an outward expression of an inward decision.
- Baptism does not make you a Christian.
- Jesus was baptized and commands it. (Mark 1.9 and Matt 28.19-20)
- Inform and include parents when student is considering baptism.
- Invite all family members and church family to witness the baptizing of students.
- Always involve and refer to the student pastor when deciding who gets baptized.
- It is not a good idea to baptize a student when their parents are pushing baptism on them.
- Baptize students wherever it is most practical.
- It is a great idea to invite students to tell their testimony before they get baptized.
- The best time to baptize is when a student trusts in Jesus as the way, truth and life. (Acts 8.35-38)
- Write an encouraging note and give it to your student after they have been baptized.
Bottom line: baptisms are a beautiful thing—the more the better. As small group leaders we are on the ground interacting with students who are considering baptism. It is up to us (the small group leaders) to be informed, equipped and empowered to make wise decisions when informing our students on baptism.
And for the record, (although the biblical proof is difficult to come by) I for one think it is completely okay to allow students to do celebratory cannonballs in the baptismal. As long as there is pastoral supervision.