Baptism Celebration Defined
Toby Frost, senior pastor of South Main Baptist Church, Greenwood has an inspiring story to tell – a story he feels could really help pastors and church members alike. It begins with his background.
Frost explains, “My sister had accepted Christ, and that led me to asking questions. Then I saw Sister become baptized, and as a little kid about 9 or 10, I went to my parents and said, ‘I want to be baptized.’”
“But, my parents said, ‘Well, you’re not a Christian yet, you can’t be baptized yet.’ I started to realize, there’s something that my sister has done that I hadn’t done in relationship to Christ.” It was a foundational step that would eventually lead Toby Frost to faith in Christ.
Later, when his sister partook of Lord’s Supper, Frost wanted to take the Lord’s Supper, too, but again, his parents said, “No, you’re not a Christian yet.” His parents weren’t very verbal with their faith, but confronting baptism and the Lord’s Supper forced these faith conversations between Frost and his parents.
Frost said, “It all came together for me a few months to a year later. I accepted Christ in a small church in Alabama. I realized that I was a sinner, but now I’m saved. I was excited, you know, because I was going to be baptized, and that’s the first real act of obedience where you make your public profession of faith; you tell people that you believe in Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection.”
Then came the disappointment.
On the day of his baptism, Frost says the pastor approached it nonchalantly, tacked onto the end of the service.
“I remember thinking, ‘Well, maybe this isn’t as big a deal as I thought it was.’”
Because of his bittersweet baptism experience, Frost has been convicted in the last few years regarding the importance of ordinances, making the Lord’s Supper a momentous event.
On Sunday, August 30, the church planned a baptism service at Lake Greenwood at Camp Fellowship, a Christian camp.
“A few weeks before this date,” Frost said, “we announced the upcoming service despite having no candidates at the time. However, it started conversations within families, and once again the spark helped parents introduce their children to the Lord.”
“Our members also began to talk about baptism with friends, neighbors, family, and co-workers, and when it came time for our baptism celebration at the lake, we had 17 candidates,” he said. “It rained the day of the baptism service, and I thought it would be ironic to cancel a baptism service due to rain. So, we first had an informal supper, then had the Lord’s Supper by the lake.” There were 300 people gathered on the shore, waiting out a lightning strike and a rain storm.
Seven year-old Wylder was the youngest candidate, and the eldest was 72 year-old Charlie. Jeff was a man who was immersed, then baptized his teenaged daughters, Anaiah and Kennedy.
A young man named Billy had just been out of federal prison for 2 months where he had been saved. His birth mother, who had him when she was about 14 or 15 and gave him up for adoption, is now a member of South Main. She decided she wanted to find her children and tell them about Christ. One day while in prison, Billy prayed, “Lord, I don’t even know who you are, but I just want to give all that I know of myself to all that I know of you.” About 3 minutes later, upon mail delivery, he received a letter from his birth mother that read, “I’ve been looking for you; I think you’re my son. The reason I’ve been looking for you is that I’ve been saved, and I want to share Christ with my children.” This began a renewal in their relationship that has lasted about 2 years. A couple of months ago was the first time she had touched him since he was an infant.
Toby said, “Billy is in our church now, and when he was baptized, his entire fitness group – men from all walks of life – bankers, lawyers, doctors – went in the water, gathered around him, and supported him; some of them were not Baptists. They were Presbyterians and Methodists out there helping this guy be baptized.”
It was a special moment in the life of South Main Baptist Church, especially in the life of those baptized. Teens were there who said they were going to tell their grandchildren about it.
Frost is already planning another baptism celebration, bringing in portable baptismal pools for the church’s contemporary service. During traditional worship, baptism will include water from the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized.
“We want the importance of their baptism to relate to the importance of their daily walk with Christ,” he said.