Counseling For Water Baptism
Ecclesiastes 3:1 declares, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” In an altar service, skill must be augmented with proper timing. The result will be that more is accomplished for the Kingdom of God. Knowing with whom to counsel, when to counsel and what to communicate is very important.
Generally, after repentance, two basic types of people confront the altar worker. First of all, there are those who need little counseling. After repentance, they are ready to be water baptized. Their spirits are open to whatever guidance is given. On the other hand, some are reluctant to get baptized. The following paragraphs deal with both situations.
For individuals who finish praying ready to be water baptized, the altar worker does not need to spend extended time giving counseling. Instead of trying to convince them of the need to be baptized, the altar worker can concentrate on creating an atmosphere conducive to receiving the Holy Ghost. First, however, the altar worker should check and see if the candidate understands repentance, and has indeed repented. When dealing with such persons, it doesn’t hurt to ask them if they feel they have repented and intend to follow God’s will for their lives.
Next, inform the candidates about the process for baptism. Mention the location of the changing room and baptismal clothes. In addition, let them know what to expect. This includes how the minister will baptize them and the optimum way for them to respond.
The altar worker should encourage those who have not yet received the Holy Ghost to believe that they will receive it. Be sure they understand God’s promise to give them the Holy Ghost. Let them know when they receive it, they will speak in a language different from any that they know. Encourage them to yield to the Spirit of God and not to be afraid. Taking time to do this can often make the difference in their receiving the Holy Spirit.
After water baptism takes place and the candidate has changed clothes, final comments from the altar worker can help to establish faith in the heart of the person baptized. First, rejoice with him or her and assure them that they have done the right thing. Secondly, encourage them to be in every service and share the service schedule with them. Thirdly, make them aware of the classes for new converts so they can start attending. Next, assist them in filling out baptismal forms and being photographed. Finally, rejoice again with them. Make their memory of the baptism experience a happy one.
At other times, people who repent may be reluctant to get baptized. This does not mean they failed to repent. On the contrary, their repentance may be complete, but perhaps they are experiencing confusion. When this occurs, a counseling session on baptism can be held. A few guidelines for counseling will help reach the individual.
To begin with, people with denominational backgrounds or who claim prior religious experiences should not be made to feel bad about them. Never belittle or discount their past experiences with God. Instead, rejoice with them in what God has done and explain that this is another step in God’s plan to bring them into His perfect will. Doing this removes their fear that they are rejecting their past relationship with the Lord. It keeps them open to God’s new direction for their lives.
The discussion on baptism should focus on the need to be baptized and the purpose of it. Using the Bible, illustrate that baptism is a part of God’s salvation plan and not just something dreamed up by man. The following Scriptures can be used to support this.
I Peter 3:21.
Let them read the scriptures for themselves.
Once the altar worker establishes the need, the worker should then move on to water baptism’s purpose. The converts need to know that baptism includes far more than just getting wet. First, at baptism the believer takes on the name of Jesus Christ (Note Galatians 3:27), even as a bride takes her husband’s name in marriage. Secondly, taking the name of Jesus brings remission or washing away of sins. This is revealed in the following verses of Scripture.
Finally, according to the following verses, we are buried with Christ by baptism.
Counseling candidates for water baptism varies from person to person. The altar worker must develop the ability to know what is needed. Then the proper response can be made.
One final word of direction seems appropriate. Sometimes, even with the best of counseling, the candidate may be reluctant to be baptized. Do not panic nor feel rejected. Instead, let them know you accept their decision and that you will be praying for them. Tell them whenever they feel ready, the baptism can be done.
This reaction keeps the door open. The candidate does not feel rejected and stands a greater chance of returning to be baptized.
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