In the past year the student ministry at my church has exploded. Called BURN it seeks to help kids develop a deep desire for God. A Wednesday night youth worship gathering is the front door and chief engine used by the Spirit for this ministry. It is led by a passionate and grounded young man named Jeremy Moyer. Instead of the typical youth group that is, to quote Ed Stetzer, “a holding tank with pizza,” Burn seeks to help kids become leaders and influencers of their generation. When this began our “youth group” had 12 kids. By the second semester of the school year, the numbers had swollen to 100. Many of these kids are unchurched.
In March Jeremy preached a series on commitment called “Real vs Fake.”
One evening 16 of these kids decided to become Christians. The next week there were four more.
That’s when Jeremy came to ask me about baptism. These kids needed to baptized and he already knew that it would be a powerful opportunity for those kids to witness to their newfound faith.
My church has a beautiful 150 year old marble baptistery in the sanctuary. We began to plan to secure it on a Wednesday (that’s when the Burn worship gathering occurs) to conduct the service.
The next day Jeremy came to see me again. “Do the baptisms have to be in the church?” “no,” was my response.
“Well these kids want to use the occasion to tell their stories to their friends, many of whom are not yet Christians. Those kids won’t come to the church.”
What was then created was a Saturday Night Beach Party the night before Palm Sunday at the nearby rec center and its pool. And that night with 75 kids in attendance and about a dozen of our elders and youth leaders (and a few unchurched parents), 12 kids shared their personal testimonies and Jeremy and I baptized them. It was one of the most moving worship experiences in the history of our 177 year old congregation. (It was also the first time I ever had a baptism with a life guard on duty.)
Easter morning we showed the pictures as our call to worship with the simple announcement “This is what we are all about as a church.”