Saturday, September 04, 2010

Quick Hits From the Mail

From a flyer advertising a worship seminar:

The average person in our society laughs 7 times per day. The average person attending this seminar will laugh than 30 times.

I suppose that is one reason to attend a worship conference.

Perhaps that says more than it intends. Maybe the reason people take worship so lightly is because it is a laughing matter to them.

On another note, the recent Baptist Bible Tribune has its regular article by Charles Lyons, pastor of Armitage Baptist Church in Chicago. In it, he talks about how we have taken baptism—the public confession of Christ—and turned it into a private affair. He says,

We know baptism is to be the public declaration of Jesus’ lordship and attachment to His local body, but in reality we’ve taken the route of convenience. We schedule baptism in hidden, walled, sequestered pools, often in front of the smallest audience of the week.

So what did they do? They took their baptisms to a local park named the Humboldt Park Lagoon and they do it publicly—not like in front of the church public, but open air public. And baptismal candidates take the mic  and give their testimony of faith before being baptized. One lady recently baptized was, in her words “right over there, hiding behind that tree” at the previous year’s baptism. This particular year, because of that, she was the one publicly confessing her faith in Christ.

I like it. I am not sure how practical it is for some, including us. But it is worth giving some thought to, in my opinion.

As a related side note, this past January, on my trip to India I was sitting in the Mumbai airport during an overnight layover. My my friend Ken and I were chatting with an older couple who we had seen having a gospel conversation with another person. Turns out the gentleman was a retired British pastor who was a Sovereign Grace Baptist in England.

During that conversation I noticed a young lady sitting just to my right on the row that backed up to ours. She was clearly eavesdropping. So I started talking to her. Turns out she is a member of Armitage Baptist Church where Charles Lyons (the author of this article) pastors. She was in India for a wedding. I told her that her pastor’s regular article in the Baptist Bible Tribune was the only article I read in in the Tribune. We later boarded the same plane for our common destination.

Small world.


Jim Peet said...

On public baptisms: Interesting idea!

Anonymous said...

I remember years ago being at what I think was First Coast Baptist church in Jacksonville, FL. They had the baptistry behind the choir, but also had a massive window behind the baptistry. Outside, a three way stop light allowed all those who were stopped at the intersection a clear view of the baptism. I agree with the idea of getting folks out into the public. It does make an impact.

Skip T

Mark Ward said...


I'm disappointed in your view about baptism. Why emphasize a public baptism in a public place. Whatever happened to having a good, old-fashioned baptism service during a regular church service? Has church become so taboo to the average person that getting them to sit in a church service and seeing someone publicly baptized is wrong or 'out-of-date'?

Let's get back to emphasizing the local church - where people get saved and then follow the Lord in believer's baptism - and let's do it in a local church - not some park, creek, pool, or public display for some show.

Lastly - let's emphasize church - worship, preaching, teaching, Sunday school - and let's get back to soul-winning where people are saved and walk the isle of our churches and then we'll have the joy of baptizing many in and through our churches.

Rev. Mark Ward

Larry said...


I admit some confusion here. I am not sure what you are disappointed about.

I merely commented on a good idea, that of having a public church service and allowing people to publicly confess Christ in baptism. How can you object to that?

I think you will have difficulty finding any prohibition of baptism in public places in the NT. In fact, if I recall correctly, most of the actual instances of baptism recorded in the NT are in a public place (the Jordan River and the Ethiopian eunuch; the third I can think of the Philippian jailer; none of these took place in a "regular church service" or a baptistery in the front of a church building.) So I think it adding to Scripture to say that we must do it (or even should do it) in a regular church service in a church building. Scripture (which is supposed to be the guide) simply does not prescribe that anywhere. Scripture does not prohibit the church from holding services in open air such as a park, a pavilion, or some other building, whether for baptism or something else.

My view is that baptism in the NT is immersion as a public confession of Christ. Are you really disappointed in that?

Nothing is wrong with doing it during a church service. That's what Armitage does, I think. They have their church service at the park and baptize people there. There's nothing unbiblical about baptizing people in a park, a creek, or a pool.

As for a "public display for some show," that's exactly what baptism is biblically. It is a public display, a show that someone is confessing Christ as Lord. Why minimize that? Why not actually do it publicly?

I think we should evangelize (though there's nothing in the Bible about "walking the aisle"). In the NT, people confessed faith in Christ by baptism, not by coming forward at the end of a church service.

So if the NT is our guide about church, then we can baptize in any number of places. Doing it publicly is a great chance to preach the gospel to people. I for one think we need to do that more.

Mark Ward said...


I'm in agreement to baptizing publicly. I have no problem with that. My beef is where is the emphasis - its all on some 'public' show. It seems we've de-emphasized the assembling of ourselves together - for the sake of some 'park-side' services of baptism, etc.

Do you administer communion publicly? Would you? Why not just cancel church services all together and have the services in a park (one church in town here does that) and not even meet in a church building?

It's a slippery slope..that's my point. I do agree that there can be special times when we have a public baptism service. I like the idea of baptizing in a park, etc. But, I don't think that should be the norm. That's all I'm trying to say.

And, by the way - the Bible should be our guide. And, we believe the Bible by faith - and we do try to follow the Bible.

One last thing - you can still get saved 'walking the isle' - people can still get saved during or after a church service. I realize it's not the only way - but, it sure is a good way to present the gospel, within a church service - and give an appeal to be saved. And, I hope you still do that in your church. Again, let's don't throw out methods that have worked in the past - they still work - if we'll work 'em. Just my humble opinion.