SAO PAULO, Brazil — Plans to introduce baby baptisms were discussed at “Imagine the Possibilities,” an international Adventist Church Growth Conference held today. Baby baptism supporters at the conference promoted the potential move as “steroids for church growth.”
“It is just wrong that a baby can be born into a perfectly wonderful Adventist family but that we can’t count this baby as a member on our books,” said “Imagine the Possibilities” keynote speaker, Ken Barrington. “Babies are perfect membership candidates because you don’t have to spend as long on agonizing Bible studies and answering objections — just dunk ’em!”
Although there was widespread agreement on the merits of baby baptism, some conference delegates raised health and safety concerns about conventional immersion baptismal techniques. “A safer baptismal method could come in the form of a gentle sprinkling or a thorough misting,” said Julio Vergara, a representative from the North American Division.
There was some push-back from conference attendees who felt that baptism should only take place if candidates understand and give their consent to the practice. In response, Barrington said that the Adventist church already dedicates babies without their knowledge and that baptism “is just taking one more step in the right direction.”
Theologian Keanan Thonson added that the church “allows very young children to get baptized before they are fully aware of what is going on. Why be so against lowering the age even further?”
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“thorough misting”… lol
(I’m playing along, here (: )
Considering, too, that back in the Old Testament days, baby dedications were reserved for firstborn males only…
I love the “thorough misting” part, too. And that’s some pretty biting commentary on the “we already allow very young children to get baptized before they are fully aware of what is going on…” It’s so true. We have regions so concerned on upping numbers that they’re willing to cheat-it-in by counting kids of members who decide to get baptized at 12 and 13 when they have barely done Bible studies.
We have a generation of Agnostic Pathfinders at my church. They come for the marching drill (I still don’t understand what the deal is with all the marching…feels *VERY* creepy-ultra-right-wing-ROTC-military-worship to me, but hey, it’s part of our tradition, I guess. :\), but when you ask them if they’ve done their weekly assignments to pray and read the Bible, almost every single one of them says no.
We need some new means of showing our young kids the power in God’s word. Otherwise, we’re going to lose another generation, and I’m not sure that Adventism can sustain that. I guess we have to have faith in God’s guidance, but it sure looks dire at times.
Will the GC, NAD, Unions & Conferences develop a department for these new baby members? Think of the many job opportunities for up & coming pastors, teachers, administrators, etc. When it comes to business meetings, constituency meetings, committees, how will these new members be served? What about their needs? Will their voices be heard? Inquiring minds just need to know!!
R. Mills, Sr.