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The Art of Cannonballing: Baptizing In Youth Ministry

Just a few months ago (after countless conversations and late night talks) one of my 7th 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 7th 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 youth pastor, small group leader, parents, church family and student’s peers. It’s a big deal.

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And it raises a few questions:   

  • What is the role of the youth pastor 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 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 youth pastor needs to ask and answer.  Over the years, I have jotted down a few theological and practical reminders for myself as a youth worker 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 senior leader in your own church or denomination about how to approach this important decision with your students.

11. Baptism Reminders For Students and Youth Workers

  1. The act of baptism is an outward expression of an inward decision.
  2. Baptism does not make you a Christian.
  3. Jesus was baptized and commands it (Mark 1.9 and Matt 28.19-20). In the book of Acts 8:35-38, those that believed, were baptized that day!
  4. Inform and include parents when student is considering baptism.
  5. Invite all family members and church family to witness the baptizing of students.
  6. It is not a good idea to baptize a student when their parents are pushing baptism on them.
  7. Baptize students wherever it is most practical– baptismal, beach, pool, etc.
  8. It is a great idea to invite students to tell their testimony before they get baptized.  And it is really powerful if you video record not only the baptism but their testimonial to why they want to get baptized.
  9. The best time to baptize is when a student trusts in Jesus as the way, truth and life.  (Acts 8.35-38)
  10. Teach on baptism at least once a year
  11. 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.  It is up to us (youth pastor or small group leader) 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.

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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  1. I have another suggestion- make it a BIG DEAL! It is the biggest decision that they will make. Celebrate!!!!

  2. It makes things a bit more challenging when your denomination performs primarily infant baptisms and also only accepts one baptism for the forgiveness of sins- and views it as a sacrament. Just a different perspective.

    • Yeah….I totally respect and understand your denomination position of baptism. However what does your church do when a teen enters the church who was never been baptized?

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