By Kay Harms
Top baptizing churches in Arizona depend on enthusiastic and trained church members to develop relationships with unsaved people and bring them in the door. That’s what a study of 41 of the 45 top baptizing churches (TBCs) in the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention for 2014 revealed.
“TBCs appear to leverage the worship service as their front door,” said Eddy Pearson, state evangelism and discipleship facilitator. “While a few TBCs shared that their front door is connecting with people within the community, most of these churches have created and maintain an inviting culture and their members consistently invite people to worship services.”
Pearson noted that one such church even trains its people as conversationalists, equipping them to communicate with guests and walk them to small group studies, childcare facilities and the worship center. Once guests are in the worship center, TBCs ensure that they experience a welcoming atmosphere and have the opportunity to fully engage in worship with the congregation.
While the most mentioned commonality among TBCs was leveraging the congregational worship time as a front door, the next three common traits also indicate that enthusiastic church members are vital in reaching the lost for Christ. The laypeople in these churches intentionally connect with people through community events and service projects, personally invite them to the worship service and make them feel welcomed and then actively celebrate baptisms, sometimes quite lavishly.
“The second most mentioned commonality among TBCs is that they intentionally preach or speak about baptisms, plan for them and then celebrate them,” said Pearson.
The baptism venues mentioned vary by church. Some churches baptize in traditional baptismal pools in the worship center, but others baptize new followers in community places, members’ backyard pools, portable tanks and even horse troughs.
The common denominator is celebration. TBCs generally go the extra mile to help new believers mark the event. They encourage new converts to invite family and friends for the occasion. Some churches provide special baptism T-shirts or towels. And many celebrate with a meal afterward.
While members at many TBCs seem to have tapped into a contagious enthusiasm demonstrated in welcoming worship services and celebrative baptism events, they’re also often trained to share their faith and then given opportunities to put that training to work.
The third most mentioned commonality among TBCs is that they intentionally plan and provide opportunities for the congregation to connect with the community and build relationships. And the fourth commonality is that these churches tend to train their members to share their testimonies and the gospel.
“They’re using various tools,” said Pearson, “such as Lifeway’s Faith Evangelism Training, NAMB’s 3 Circles, Sharing Jesus Without Fear, Solarium Story Cards and tracts. They’re also teaching their people to share what Jesus has done and is doing in their lives.”
Finally, while not many of the TBCs mentioned prayer in their interviews, those that did seemed to sense that it’s ultimately the Lord increasing their numbers. And those that didn’t mention prayer would surely concur.
The report is available for reading and download at bit.ly/BaptismReport.