How to Perform a Baptismal Service

by Dell Markey

Christians celebrate baptism as a ritual that either symbolizes the removal of sin or washes away actual sins. Babies and infants usually are the recipients of a baptism, but adults entering the faith also go through the event. Certain churches only will conduct a baptism when the recipient reaches an age that allows the individual to understand the significance of the event and to make a profession of faith. A person can be baptized through immersion in water or by having water sprinkled or poured over the top of his head. Certain churches insist that baptisms be performed by clergy, while others allow lay persons to do it.

Before the Baptismal Service

Prepare the baptismal candidate. Explain the significance of baptism according to your church's beliefs. Make sure the candidate qualifies for baptism according to your church's teachings.

A baptismal service is an occasion for families to worship together.

Invite the entire congregation, as well as friends and family to the baptism service. Schedule the baptismal service at a time when the candidates' loved ones will be able to attend or during an actual church service.

Prepare the baptismal area. Fill the baptismal tank with water, if applicable. Locate a natural water source If you are performing an outdoor baptism.

Conducting the Baptismal Service

Introduce the baptismal candidate to the congregation. Speak loudly and clearly so those who do not know the candidate can hear her name.

The Bible contains various references to baptism.

Explain the meaning of Christian baptism. Read and briefly explain Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3-6, Galatians 3:27, 1 Peter 3:21, or another appropriate Scripture passage pertaining to baptism.

Church members serve as witnesses to a person's baptism.

Interview the baptismal candidate or ask him to give a brief testimony. Ask something like, "Have you repented of your sin and accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?" Tailor the question to meet your church's understanding of the qualifications for baptism. Instruct the candidate on how to respond to your questions, such as replying "I do."

Instruct the baptismal candidate to plug her nose. Have the candidate plug her nose with one hand and grasp the wrist of that arm with her other hand. Give these instructions quietly to the baptismal candidate.

Position yourself beside and behind the candidate so that the congregation can see the candidate. Place one of your hands on the candidate's upper back and hold the candidate's forearm with your other hand. Widen your stance for balance.

Immerse the candidate backward into the water slowly, making sure to support him or her. Make your church's baptismal pronunciation as you immerse the candidate. Say something like, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," or "I baptize you in the name of Jesus." Bring the newly baptized person up out of the water.

Alternatively, pour or sprinkle water over the top of the candidate's head. Have the candidate bend her neck back so her head is situated over a container that will catch the water. Have the candidate sit in a chair or be supported on either side by family or church members. Make your church's baptismal pronunciation as you pour or sprinkle water on the candidate.

Clergy often lead baptismal services.

Present the baptized person to the congregation and encourage them to welcome her into their fellowship. Read another Scripture verse and have a moment of prayer for the newly baptized person.

Provide the baptized person with towels and a place to change into dry clothes if she was immersed.

Tips

  • Certain churches refer to baptism as a sacrament rather than an ordinance.
  • Check with your church's leadership regarding any specific prayers or gestures that must be completed to make a baptism valid.
  • Have baptismal candidate bring a change of clothing.
  • When baptizing a heavy candidate, have another person with you to help the person being baptized regain their footing after being immersed.
  • If you are baptizing in a baptismal tank, use warm water when possible.
  • Don't hold the person being baptized under the water. The candidate must only be underwater long enough to be fully immersed.

Warnings

  • Before conducting a baptismal service, make sure your church recognizes your authority to do so.
  • If you are using microphones or other electronics during your baptismal service, be very careful to keep them out of the reach of water for risk of electrical shock. If you are using wired microphones, have someone outside the baptismal tank and who is not going to touch the water hold the mic.

Items you will need

  • Baptismal tank or natural water source (pond, river, etc.)
  • Water
  • Vessel
  • Bible or minister's manual (optional, but recommended)
  • Robes (optional, but recommended)
  • Towels

About the Author

Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.

Photo Credits

  • Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images