We're going to perform a mock baptism in order to give you some information about baptism itself. Before we get to that, let's look at a few of the things necessary to facilitate this event.
This is a typical baptistry most churches that have a baptistery, the baptistry looks like this. There are about three and a half feet of standing water. Two entry ways into the baptistry which serve as dressing rooms in the back where the individual being baptized has a kind of a private spot where they can change and get ready and then the other room where the minister or whoever is performing the baptism can also do the same.
A couple of recommendations if you're putting in a baptistery or if you already have one. It's a good idea that there is an ongoing filter to continually clean the water because after all it's just a miniature swimming pool and that water needs to be cleaned continually and also a heating elements to make sure that the water is warm. I always tell the Brethren make sure the baptistry water is clean and warm and ready so you don't have to spend hours filling up a baptistery and warming the water when somebody decides that they wish to be baptized. You can go immediately to the baptistry and perform that baptistry.
A couple of things about our own baptistry here at the Choctaw congregation. We have a built-in microphone pointing into the baptistry itself that is able to pick up the conversation or the words that the individual says when they confess their faith and if they're doing a prayer or whatever.Individuals who are observing that in the congregation, perhaps sitting in the pews are able to hear clearly what the individual is saying, the exchange going on so on and so forth. Also this is a safety feature we have heard and read many times unfortunately that people tried to go into the baptistry with a microphone on them not realizing that that microphone is plugged into something which is electric and there's a danger of electrocution.
Baptistry Changing Room
Before we actually do the baptism, I'd like to show you the changing room. I've been in a lot of these type of rooms and I can say that it's important that you provide the things needed by the individual who is going to be baptized.The first thing you might notice is there's a sign on the door here and it says baptistry changing room and in brackets (no storage). One of the temptations in a lot of churches is to use this room which stays empty most of the time to begin using it as storage.
I've been in churches and gone into their baptistry changing room where they were storing chairs and wedding paraphernalia and all kinds of extra boxes of lighting because they felt, well this is only used once in a while and we can use it as storage. But you need to remember that the individual who's being baptized, this is one of the most important days and moments of their life and so when they walk into the baptistry changing room and see that it's being used as a storage area, that doesn't speak well of what we think the meaning of baptism is. So, in our changing room we try to make it clean and neat.
We provide the things that an individual who's going to be immersed in water may need: a hairdryer a mirror to comb and to finish drying their hair. Chairs because many times, especially ladies, they usually have someone come in with them to help them change and do other things and so there needs to be a place for them to to sit. Kleenex, because there's crying that goes on many times. The joy of the moment overtakes the individual and then of course in this particular room making sure that we have clothing that an individual can use in order to be baptized. Plenty of towels the individual can use.
A small thing but a handy thing is a a hamper in order to put wet towels and wet baptistry clothing into until such time these things can be taken care of. I suggest that there's an additional closet or private changing place. Many times, especially for women, two or three women come in to help that individual to support that individual but maybe that individual would like to have some privacy as she changes into the garments that she will use it for the baptistry. So a good thing to remember make sure the baptistry changing room is clean and it has all the things that the individual might need for that most important moment.
Performing the Immersion
A couple of things to remember when you baptize someone. Of course if we're talking about baptism the word baptism means to immerse in water so if someone is baptized it means they're immersed in the water. You can baptize them a variety of ways. A person could go straight down into the water, one way. In the first century for a long time they went face-first into the water. What we do nowadays is actually lean the person back to be buried under water in order to to reenact what is written in Romans 6, that baptism is a burial. So in a burial we don't think of somebody kind of stooping down into the grave or going forward into the grave in a burial we're thinking of a person being laid to rest in a grave and that's what we're mimicking in a baptism.
First I would ask the individual to turn around to the correct way and when we baptise someone there's a variety of ways, before people get in the water we ask them to make their confession of faith. That "do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?" and they say "yes I do" sometimes we do it while we're in the baptistry.
Now one of the things we do to make sure not to have any injuries, measure how you know how tall the person is so that when you bring them down they don't hit their head on the steps or anything. So usually I move them forward to make sure that I have a lot of clearance for them to go backwards that's one thing and the second thing is I ask them to kind of hold their nose because if you go backwards into the water, it'll be normal that the water will rush into your nose. Then collapse their hand so you have all of their arms and hands you've got all of them with one arm supporting their back in this way and your other hand in the front supporting them in the front and when you're going to pull them back up, they'll help you pull them you know back up using both of your hands as you grip with your right hand both of their hand and their wrist.
Another thing that I do is I asked a person to bend their knees slightly so that they don't have to go straight back. It puts less pressure on the back. So then make sure you're supporting them with your left hand so that they don't fall and you go down.
One thing to remember, Baptism is a burial. So when you go down, go down go all the way down, one of the good things about holding them like this, is you you assure yourself that the person is completely immersed, you don't want them to have their hands you know sticking up in the air as they go out so with what with this way you're making sure the entire body is going to be immersed.