1 Corinthians 12:13
We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink.
I love the baptisms at our church. Previously, we’ve held baptisms of one or two people at a river out in Pennsylvania. A few of our families head out to a family Bible camp every year and we’ve baptized four people over two years. But this year was different.
On June 17, 2012, immediately following service, the Elements Church packed up our family and friends and headed to Sunken Meadow State Park Beach.
Elements is a church plant in the Bronx. We are semi-portable, with a Sunday only space that we have to set up and break down every Sunday. We prepared to baptize ten people, our largest number yet. About 70 people met up at Sunken Meadow and found a nice spot near the edge of the beach that would hold us all.
After waiting about 30 minutes for all the families to arrive, we met at the shore and prayed. Armed with an acoustic guitar, we stood ankle-deep in the water and worshipped the Lord. Each person then stood before the crowd and expressed their commitments to Jesus…and then they were baptized.
There are many beautiful reasons for holding the baptism service at the beach. I’ll just mention a few. First, the setting helps to make the event an easy thing to invite friends and family to. We had more visitors at this baptism than we had members. It’s less intimidating.
Second, the setting takes us back a bit to Biblical times and gives us the opportunity to kinda do it like they did in the Bible, out in nature, which is something us “city folk” don’t get to enjoy enough of.
Third, we literally get to show strangers what our church is about. They get to see the face of Christianity without all the baggage that is often attached to “church” as we know it.
Lastly, we have a greater opportunity to not just show strangers what church is about, but to tell them about Jesus. Four people requested to be baptized right on the spot.
After the baptisms, we sat around, ate food, played football and had a great time of fellowship together. We even held a celebratory line-dance in the parking lot after it was all said and done. It would be a major stretch to say we “danced like David danced,” but we definitely had fun together.
At the end of the day we baptized fourteen people. I see this all as a celebration and an opportunity to fellowship, as a church, in a manner most churches never get to do. Our time together at a beach, with on-lookers checking us out, gave our people a sense of purpose…they were “talking about Christ” without ever having to say a word. We were, “Church at the Beach” for one afternoon and it made all the sense in the world. The word used the most by those baptized to describe the day was, “beautiful.” I would have to agree.
Efrain Alicea serves as Lead Pastor at the Elements Church, Bronx NY. To learn more about Elements, check out their website or “Like” them on Facebook.
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