For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body--whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
We recently had the joy of celebrating the baptisms of a few of our Sojourn kids and students at Sojourn J-Town. We also began an new rhythm as a local church family with a student baptism Sunday. We saw planning this experience as an opportunity to be more intentional in the discipleship of the next generation, and in the celebration with our entire church family.
Last Fall, students and their parents attended our Family Baptism class at Sojourn J-Town. After the class, they were connected with family ministry advocates, some of our key ministry deacons for Sojourn Students and SojournKids. The advocates walked closely with the students and their parents as they processed next steps in their faith journeys. The goal was intentionality without the pressure of rushing this process. We then set a date for Student Baptism Sunday based on the readiness of several students.
What do we celebrate on Student Baptism Sunday?
We celebrate the saving work God has done in each student. Every Spring and Fall during our Child Dedication services, parents and church members pray boldly together for the children before us--that they would one day stand before before our church congregation and declare that Jesus is Lord. On this celebration day, we get to rejoice that God has been faithful!
God’s saving work reaches across generations in a radical fashion. The personal testimony of each of these students does not give witness to a faith that mimics that of their parents. Their story doesn’t represent the successful completion of a family ministry checklist-process. Rather, their stories reflect God's unique and radical work in each individual. It is his work to awaken their hearts to the beauty of the gospel and their need for Jesus.
How do we celebrate?
We celebrate as a family. Baptism Sundays tend to draw in a large number of visiting family members and friends. Though we enjoy welcoming them, we are reminded that this celebration of new life isn't a biological family affair—it is a spiritual family affair. These young people are being baptized in to our body of believers as our brothers and sisters.
In the testimonies of our Sojourn kids and students who were recently baptized, we got to see both of these formative realities on beautiful display in each of their stories:
- the faithful and on-going commitment of their parents to passionately pursue and point their children to Jesus with God's help.
- the faithful and on-going commitment of SojournKids and Sojourn Student volunteers, some called out by name, who poured in to these students week after week and pointed them to Jesus.
We love to have a party! At our recent student baptism service at Sojourn J-Town, we followed the morning with a milestone celebration lunch gathering on site. Among the many in attendance were a number of church members who have journeyed with these young people and their families through SojournKids, Sojourn Students, and Community Group.
Why do we celebrate?
As these students continue to mature, and face the realities, doubts and confusion of life, we pray they will recall the boldness they evidenced and the confident, personal responses they gave when we asked about their faith story and God’s work in them.
We want to journey alongside parents. Discipling children can be overwhelming. We don't leave parents to do this on their own. God has put us together in the church because we need one another.
We want our church family to participate in their stories. Our commitment to these new believers doesn't end with their parents and Sojourn Family Ministry. This commitment reaches to our entire church family who has been given the opportunity and responsibility to pray for them, and to encourage and sustain them as part of our fellowship of believers. This reminder helps to mark the beginning—not the end--of their discipleship journey.