I have met many people who ask me questions about Mars Hill Church. One frequently asked question is: “Are all the people you baptize really becoming Christians at your church?” This one is also common: “Are people just getting baptized because it’s the thing to do at your church?”
Well, since we are all about Jesus and making him known and we exist as a church to make disciples and plant churches, we hope and pray that getting baptized is a “thing to do” at Mars Hill as long as people are meeting Jesus. But we’re not just baptizing anybody and everybody.
Let me start by saying that we only baptize Christians at Mars Hill. There are a couple of pre-requisites to baptism.
- The person must know Jesus.
- They must believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord.
- They must believe that Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life because they cannot, that Jesus died a death in their place for their sin, that Jesus was buried and then on the third day rose from the grave conquering Satan, sin, and death on their behalf. If people don’t confess this then we don’t baptized them.
Baptism Isn’t for Everyone—This Sunday
This said, it’s important to note that we don’t blindly accept anyone who says they want to get baptized. We, to the best of our limited ability, want to ensure that those who desire to be baptized are Christians who want to love and serve Jesus and are repentant of their sin. What’s not seen is that there are actually many who come up on Sunday and say they want to be baptized and are not permitted. Sometimes it’s because they think it’s just something they’re supposed to do, or it’s an emotional thing, but we find in talking with them that they don’t have a true understanding of who Jesus is and what his gospel means. These people are not baptized on those days, and we pray that God may continue his pursuit of them and that he will bring them from death to life and they can one day be baptized.
There is a great expectation at Mars Hill that when God’s Word is preached, people are going to meet Jesus. We expect that Jesus is going to rescue people, bringing them from death to life. And God is gracious enough that we get to see this every weekend at Mars Hill, and Jesus keeps proving that he truly is our Savior. It is amazing to watch the Holy Spirit awaken people to meet Jesus for the first time and then to baptize them because they want to take that step in obedience. Even if they don’t fully understand everything they are doing, they have met the one God and Savior of their souls, Jesus Christ and will continue to grow in knowledge and understanding of God’s great grace for them.
Kevin and Pastor Scott baptize Megan.
People Who Were Baptized
I want to share a few testimonies that I believe show the range of people who we have baptized this last year so you can see firsthand who is being baptized.
Kevin and Megan
Kevin is stationed at Naval Station Everett and was raised in the church, but had been worshiping a god other than Jesus his whole life and from a young age was involved in all sorts of sexual sin. At the age of 20, he got married to a beautiful girl named Megan, a couple months later they found out that she was pregnant. When he heard this, though, Kevin wasn’t ready to grow up, and so he dove headlong back into the sexual sin—this time hiding it from his wife. Neither of them were Christians, but they felt like they needed to be coming to church. So they came to our Everett church, and as Pastor Mark preached the gospel, Kevin felt the Holy Spirit ask him to trust in Jesus and confess his sin. He was scared to do this but he obeyed and confessed. During this time Megan asked God to help her understand grace and she ended up meeting Jesus in a real and true way. As Megan put it, “Jesus Christ has turned our marriage and our lives around.” I had the privilege of baptizing Kevin and then he got to baptize Megan. One of the most memorable moments in this last year for me was hearing Megan’s joy as she confessed Jesus as her Lord.
Pastor Tim baptizes Jeff.
Jeff has been coming to Mars Hill for many years. He is gifted as a photographer and has blessed us with many wonderful pictures of our church family, including countless baptism photos. Jeff has been so busy serving over the last couple of years that he had never actually been baptized. This last year, Jeff set down the camera and climbed into the baptismal, and after confessing Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, he was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jeff has known Jesus for a long time but the Holy Spirit asked him to be obedient in this as well and it’s out of that obedience and following of the Holy Spirit that led him to trust God at a deeper level and be baptized.
Ainsley is baptized by Pastor Tim and her dad, Kit.
One Sunday, Ainsley, 8, came up to me and said, “I’d like to be baptized.” Wanting to make sure this young girl really understood the gospel, I asked her why she wanted to be baptized. She then proceeded to share the whole story of the gospel with me: Jesus died for her sins, rose from the dead, and he has given her a new heart. I was blown away by her understanding of what Jesus has done for her. I then asked her if she would have her dad baptize her, and she was excited that he could be the one to baptize her. So do some of the “kids” in the pictures at Mars Hill look young? Maybe so, but they understand what Jesus has done for them and want to live out of a heart of obedience to him.
The baptisms I have seen at Mars Hill are transformational and about rebirth. They are expressions in obedience and are public declarations that someone is claiming Jesus as his or her Savior, instead of about fitting in. I pray every day that God will allow us to see more people meet Jesus and get baptized, and then watch them grow in their faith as Christ continues his work in their life.