Church Planting and Modus Baptisma

Some of the issues faced by Church Planters relate to questions about baptism.
According to the sage Wikipedia, Baptism (from the Greek noun βάπτισμα baptisma; itself derived from βαπτισμός baptismos, washing) is a Christian rite of admission (or adoption), almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also a particular church tradition. Baptism has been called a sacrament and an ordinance of Jesus Christ.

As a very young child I was baptized by sprinkling with the only reason being that my infant brother was also being baptized and we were getting a sort of family deal for my other brothers and me. Having come to Christ as an adult believer I was baptized by immersion. Years later on a ministry educational trip to Israel I decided to have my baptism “affirmed” by being immersed by a pastor friend in the Jordan River. Personally, it was a very moving experience for me.

Pastor Hizon Cua of Greenhills Vancouver performing a baptism

Pastor Hizon Cua of Greenhills Vancouver performing a baptism

Early on in our church planting ministry we had to come to terms with the question of baptism. What is baptism all about? Is it essential? If so, what mode should we adopt (sprinkling, pouring, immersing…)?

What about baptism and membership? It seems one question led to another, to another, to another.

The early fathers of the church wrestled with the baptism questions, Reformation leaders were
martyred over the issues of baptism and today’s church planters are challenged by what role baptism should play in their new churches.

I’ll never forget baptizing our friend Larry in the icy waters of the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia on a May long weekend. He had come to faith later in life and having heard of the Lord’s own baptism wanted to follow his Saviour in obedience. Larry knew that the Peace River flowed into the Mackenzie River and eventually to the Arctic Ocean and liked the idea that his sins would be washed away into a frozen sea. I just wished he’d picked a warmer time of year to be baptized.

As a family of churches the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada have had many discussions around the significance and role of baptism in the growing life of a believer. The CBWC website has some resources that might help to answer some of the questions you may have.

Tom Lavigne

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