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18 March 2006School of Ministry1 Baptising Southland Training day for elders and LMT members to be authorised to conduct baptism within the Presbytery.

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Presentation on theme: "18 March 2006School of Ministry1 Baptising Southland Training day for elders and LMT members to be authorised to conduct baptism within the Presbytery."— Presentation transcript:

1 18 March 2006School of Ministry1 Baptising Southland Training day for elders and LMT members to be authorised to conduct baptism within the Presbytery of Southland 18 March 2006

2 School of Ministry2 Agenda (not necessarily in order) Biblical examples and biblical theology What it means and who decides Baptism in water and the Holy Spirit Why infant baptism remains part of our church’s faith and practice Why we also accept leaders and congregations who do not practice it Infant baptism and infant dedication

3 18 March 2006School of Ministry3 Agenda (any other items?) Confirmation Reaffirmation of baptismal vows by immersion Believer’s baptism by sprinkling, pouring or immersion; children, teenagers and adults. The role of the congregation, god-parents and whanau The responsibility of the Session Record keeping Practical! waders, wet suits, hot tubs and crying babies.

4 18 March 2006School of Ministry4 Overview Baptism and Mission

5 18 March 2006School of Ministry5 Approaches to Baptism Owning our own stories Owning the stories of others Respecting the standards and regulations of our Church Placing our understanding in the context of Jesus commission to his followers Teaching which takes the major traditions seriously Making Baptism and preparation a deliberate part of mission, planning and scheduling.

6 18 March 2006School of Ministry6 Debates The Waters that Divide, Bridges and Pyper. Infant Baptism has a focus on the family and community claiming the promises of God for someone born into the community. Believers Baptism has a focus on repentance of sin and confession of faith Whatever we say about baptism, these are both valid activities before God.

7 18 March 2006School of Ministry7 Discussion is affected by culture Climate and circumstance make universal baptism by immersion practically impossible for all people everywhere. Immersion may be a good choice where it is feasible and that is what the person and the community are happy with. A modernist culture tended to assume that words had to mean exactly the same thing in all times and places.

8 18 March 2006School of Ministry8 Baptism in a postmodern world The meaning of baptism is what you make it. BUT the “you” is not just the person being baptized, it is also the Christian community, both immediate and extended, present in time, across cultures and across history. In thinking about what we are saying to God and God is saying to us through whatever practices of baptism we follow, we need to be informed by this wider community, and by the community before us. God respects our sincerity; God may also expect us to respect the sincerity of others.

9 18 March 2006School of Ministry9 Share What is the story of your Baptism and Confirmation? How did you confess your faith in Jesus Christ and join the Church? What is the place of baptism in the mission of your congregation?

10 18 March 2006School of Ministry10 The Church has devalued baptism and confirmation We know that we are not saved by our church membership. We tell stories that being a church member no more makes us a Christian than living in a garage makes us a car or going to McDonalds makes us a hamburger. We no longer believe that baptism is essential to get to heaven.

11 18 March 2006School of Ministry11 The Church has undervalued the importance of baptism and confirmation for: What they allow God to say to us What they allow us to say to God What they allow us to say to others How they grow Christians by providing a focus of “decision for Christ” How they grow the Church in faith and maturity not just numbers.

12 18 March 2006School of Ministry12 Jesus said “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 28 : 18 – 20. RSV.

13 18 March 2006School of Ministry13 What will you do about Baptizing and Teaching in your congregation and community?

14 18 March 2006School of Ministry14 A serious suggestion Make baptism and confirmation key items in your mission. Indicate publicly that you will be encouraging people to seek baptism and confirmation and how they can respond. Ask people to pray. Designate suitable Sundays for baptism and confirmation every year. Schedule membership classes (by whatever name) into the annual calendar of events. Make these one of the best things you do.

15 18 March 2006School of Ministry15 People need A way of saying they have repented of sin and have turned to Jesus. A way of joining the Christian community as responsible members. A way of bringing their children to God as part of the Christian community Baptism is a key part of meeting all these needs. Baptism is also something we are instructed to do.

16 18 March 2006School of Ministry16 Teaching about Baptism A Common Theology An openness about difference A respect for difference

17 18 March 2006School of Ministry17 A common theology of baptism It is about what God has done for us in Jesus. It is about following Jesus’ example and command. It is about belonging to Jesus and his church. It is about bearing witness to Jesus as Lord and Savour It is about being open to the work of the Holy Spirit It is about being part of the Kingdom of God and working for God’s glory. It is about the person being baptised, and it is about the community of faith they are part of as part of the church.

18 18 March 2006School of Ministry18 Act positively Teach positively about Baptism from the standpoint of the Church universal. Respect the teaching of the Church you are part of as one of its leaders Rebaptism may not show a lot of respect for the Church, but it can show a great deal of faith and a desire to serve Christ. That also matters. Put the font where it looks as if you intend to use it. Explain when and how you will offer baptism including by immersion.

19 18 March 2006School of Ministry19 Baptism What Christians have (almost) always done Has changed in emphasis: Who is baptised – new believers, old believers, children of believers How it is done – sprinkling, pouring, immersion How it is understood – whether it is more about what God has done for us or what we are saying to God as a confession and to others as a witness.

20 18 March 2006School of Ministry20 Has stayed the same Baptism is About what God has done for us About leaving sin and following Jesus About being part of the Christian community In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

21 18 March 2006School of Ministry21 Reformed understanding of Baptism Children of believer’s are part of the covenant Infant Baptism is a means of grace, but it is not magic Infant Baptism is supported by the theology and teaching of the New Testament and is consistent with what we know of practice in New Testament churches.

22 18 March 2006School of Ministry22 New Zealand Presbyterians Our people include those from traditions which do not practice infant baptism, including Baptist, Brethren, and Pentecostal. Include congregations where the common practice is infant dedication and baptism, preferably by immersion, takes place after personal confession of faith. Include ministers who for reasons of conscience do not practice infant baptism. Remain committed to offering baptism to the children of believers. Have an authorised service for reaffirmation of baptism by immersion.

23 18 March 2006School of Ministry23 Current issues Baptism seems neglected – it needs to be higher in our expectations of things that happen in our church. Baptism is carried out by recognised leaders because baptism is considered important. That is about the status of baptism, not about the status of the leaders. Just because baptism is debated does not mean that it should not be talked about, and it still needs to happen. We need to celebrate and renew our own baptism. We need teach about baptism - including a theology that covers our diverse practices.

24 18 March 2006School of Ministry24 Distinctions What is legal and what is valid. Unauthorised baptisms may defy the authority of recognised leadership, but they are still valid. These are separate issues. What we do in infant baptism and what we do in believers baptism have much in common, but the differences also matter. Each is saying something important.

25 18 March 2006School of Ministry25 What things mean What things mean in themselves and what they remind us of are not necessarily the same. The meaning of baptism depends on what it reminds people of as well as the meaning it is given by New Testament parallels and teaching. Both are important. It is helpful to be aware of the communities involved in giving meaning to what we do

26 18 March 2006School of Ministry26 What NT examples mean and what they may require are not the same Jesus calling children to him does not require children to be baptised, but it is meaningful if children are being baptised. Stories of people being baptised as adults does not require us only to baptise adults, but they are meaningful when adults are baptised. Stories of people being baptised immediately tell us what may happen, but do not necessarily tell us how we should normally do things when there is a community of believers.

27 18 March 2006School of Ministry27 Issues debated in the past Private baptisms at home Unbelieving parent Belief that the unbaptised will go to hell Belief that baptised children are saved or better behaved. Emergency baptism

28 18 March 2006School of Ministry28 Baptism in the Holy Spirit God is often more untidy than we would like. Baptism in the Holy Spirit can be a description for a deep experience of God which may come at baptism, at some other time, or not at all. It is also a description for a theological reality which may be true whether or not there is an experience of God that it is connected to. What we think the Bible means is shaped by the meanings given to biblical terms by groups of Christians as they try to make sense of their spiritual experiences.

29 18 March 2006School of Ministry29 What we could aim to do Equip ourselves spiritually and practically to lead baptism in a meaningful way Commit ourselves to study and teaching about baptism as a regular part of our church life. Help people understand where others are coming from, including those who see things differently. Model conviction, faith, humility, and action.

30 18 March 2006School of Ministry30 Leading Baptism “The promise is to you and to your children”

31 18 March 2006School of Ministry31 A Malaysian Experience In the one congregation while I was “interim moderator”, the elders prepared people for baptism and we: Dedicated infants of Christian parents Baptised infants of Christian parents Baptised elderly converts by sprinkling / pouring Baptised young people and adults by immersion in the sea Requests for a change of name

32 18 March 2006School of Ministry32 Preparation of families for the baptism of their infant children Session should be involved in the decision and in the pastoral care before and after. Pastoral and evangelistic opportunity almost always a greater concern than the depth of faith of the parents. In practice difficult to refuse. In the past was sometimes driven by grandparents and by social custom more than faith. Less common today. Still find Christian mother and not yet Christian father. Work with the vows you use in your church.

33 18 March 2006School of Ministry33 Conducting baptism Have a practice! Work out what you are going to say. Think about where people will stand. Involve the congregation. Encourage those involved to share their faith. Use warm water. Make sure the font is somewhere to be seen.

34 18 March 2006School of Ministry34 Preparing for Believer’s Baptism Decision by the Session Involvement of elders Allow people choice in what is meaningful for them Sprinkling / pouring Immersion Reaffirmation of infant baptism by immersion Work with the vows

35 18 March 2006School of Ministry35 Preparation Groups (this may be the most important ministry you develop) Design your own Home groups Something advertised for the purpose Resources Alpha Bible study about conversion and baptisms Catechism Apostles Creed Contemporary statements of faith

36 18 March 2006School of Ministry36 Key elements in the service Welcome people, including family and visitors. Explain what is going on and what is going to happen. Invite people forward Pray Confession of faith – person being baptised or their parents, whanau Testimony Take the child, or have the candidate kneel in the pool before immersion. Baptism “______, I baptise you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” “The blessing of God Almighty, Father Son and Holy Spirit descend upon you and remain in your heart forever.” Prayer (may involve others) Affirmation of support from congregation (may include creed, sung blessing, and promise to encourage). Declaration of membership in the universal church of Jesus Christ.


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