In the United Methodist church, we practice two different types of baptism. Baptism for infants is a way to celebrate the work of God already present in a child who is too young to make a decision of faith on their own. In infant baptism, the parents and the church make a declaration before God to let their faith and their commitment to Christ be the influences that will raise the child to the point of making a decision to follow Christ on their own. Infant baptism is primarily a reflection of the parents' faith.
Believer's baptism (baptism of someone making a personal commitment of faith), the other type of baptism practiced in the United Methodist church, is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual work between the person and God. While baptism is certainly not required to become a Christian or to be a follower of Jesus, the Bible repeatedly speaks of the importance of making a public declaration of our decision to follow Jesus. God does something powerful inside of us as we stand and declare our faith before the community of believers. Through the act of baptism, a person is able to declare to the church body that they are making the decision to die with Christ and be raised into the new life that can only come through Christ. There is huge symbolism in the steps of presenting yourself, surrendering yourself, and being raised and received by the congregation.
Jesus was baptized before he began his ministry on earth (see Luke 3:21-22). Believer’s baptism is one way for a person to publicly declare that he or she wants to become a part of God’s ongoing story here on earth. Baptism is NOT a “get into heaven free” ticket or an act that one must do in order to be saved. Instead, baptism is something a person does in order to identify with Christ, to declare obedience to God, and to publicly proclaim that he or she wishes to follow Jesus.
At WordServe, we will baptize people periodically during our Sunday morning worship services (both infant baptism and believer's baptism). These services will be great celebrations of the decisions that are reflected by the baptism (either by the parents or the believer). Our primary means of baptizing adults is through submersion (completely submerging the person in water); we baptize infants by placing water on the head of the infant.
If you would like to set up an appointment to talk with Nolan about either infant or believer’s baptism, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and write “Baptism” in the subject line.
If you would like to read more about baptism in the Bible, check out the following passages: Mark 1:4, Luke 3:16, Luke 3:21-22, Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12, 1 Peter 3:20-22.