Baptism is one of the oldest and most basic traditions in Christianity. It's a key milestone on a person's spiritual journey that signifies their new faith. Baptism is practiced in different ways by different streams of Christianity. Here's how we approach it at Mosaic and how you can take part.
What is baptism?
Baptism is a public ceremony that involves entering water and then emerging from it. It symbolizes the core themes of Christian faith—death and rebirth, repentance and cleansing, brokenness and healing, and the real presence of God in a person's life. Undergoing baptism tells God and the people around you that you believe in Jesus, have entrusted your life and salvation to him, and have decided to spend your life following him.
Why is baptism such a big deal (and why isn't it)?
We believe baptism marks a big change. But baptism doesn't make that change happen. We baptize people after they put their faith in Jesus and begin following him. The words and movements we use in baptism are a way to make visible the beliefs and the changes that are inside us.
Baptism is very important. But baptism isn't a requirement. Jesus was baptized and so were his followers. The early church was extremely conscientious about baptizing new believers. We follow their example to show we believe in Jesus and want to be like him. But you can be a Christian without being baptized.
Baptism is a way to experience God's love. But baptism doesn't make God love you more. God has been crazy about you since before you were born.
How do I know if I'm ready to be baptized?
It might be helpful to think of baptism as a "next step," which happens after a person comes to faith in Jesus. We encourage people to be baptized when they can answer yes to three questions: (1) Do I believe in Jesus? (2) Have I entrusted my life and salvation to him? (3) Have I committed to following him all my life? Answering "yes" to those questions indicates that a person has come to a basic understanding of Jesus and put their faith in him. Those answers may come all at once or one at a time. Some people can point to a definite moment when they arrived there. Other people aren't sure when it happened.
This is a guide, not a law. And it's an imperfect guide. Mosaic can offer resources and personal guidance to help you figure all this out.
What method of baptism does Mosaic use?
We generally practice full-body baptism in a lake, river, or pool. This signifies our belief that salvation touches the whole person. We are happy to make accommodations for those who are unable to be baptized in this way.
What happens in the water?
The person being baptized steps into the water with one or two other people. The person is asked to declare out loud their belief in Jesus and commitment to follow him. The person crosses their arms over their chest and plugs their nose. Then they are gently lowered into the water and immediately lifted out again.
Who performs the baptism?
Typically, a pastor or other church leader will perform the baptism, but it is OK for any Christian to do this. One or more "sponsors" may also join in—close Christian family members or friends. The person being baptized may choose all the people who join them in the water.
What happens afterward?
Everyone steps out of the water and dries off. There may be a prayer or other celebrations before the service ends.
Since the person being baptized has just publicly declared their faith, we like to publicly welcome that person into the faith community. The pastor leads the congregation in a series of promises to the baptized person. Then the pastor prays for the person, anointing them with a small amount of oil and asking God's Spirit to be with them. Finally, we celebrate Communion together, formally recognizing the baptized person's full inclusion in the fellowship and life of the Church. This is usually done at the next worship service (sometimes, this is the same day).
What if I was baptized before—can I be baptized again?
Often, people like to renew their baptism after leaving the faith for a time or after a period of great spiritual change. However, we believe baptism is best celebrated as a one-time event. So we do not offer re-baptism, except for people who were baptized as infants and now want to make an adult decision to be baptized.
Nonetheless, we fully agree that it is important to mark major spiritual changes throughout our lives. So from time to time we observe them with other public ceremonies. Please contact us for more information.