Church in Georgia experiences ‘harvest day’ with 114 baptisms
By ROGER ALFORD, The Christian Index
Editor’s Note: Sunday, September 12 is Baptism Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.
BETHLEHEM, Georgia (BP) – As the pastor of one of Georgia’s most evangelical churches, Jason Britt is used to many baptisms, but 114 just one Sunday was beyond his expectations.
“We were blown away,” said Britt, senior pastor of the Bethlehem church. “It’s one of those things that you can’t do every week, and you’re just thankful when God opens the door to do it. “
The Bethlehem Church, with around 4,000 Sunday attendance at its three campuses, has consistently been one of Georgia’s leading baptismal churches with 200 or more per year since 2018.
On August 22, 26 new believers were to be baptized at Bethlehem’s three campuses. However, dozens of others also went spontaneously to the baptistery.
The following Sunday, August 29, Bethlehem baptized 36 more people, bringing the total to 150 baptisms in recent weeks. It’s 200 so far this year.
Britt told the Christian Index that the church has been going through one of those spiritual moments that cannot be made, that can only be brought about by God.
“It’s like with Elijah,” he said. “We don’t bring fire; we’re just stacking the wood. Our job is simply to be obedient.
In an interview with the Baptist Press, Britt said he laid out a theology of baptism this Sunday morning.
“It was never a ceremonial or ritual thing,” he said. “This is our first step when we decide to follow Christ. Then we go public.
He said Christians can sometimes think too much about baptism.
“We pushed him away. We are planning this, ”he said. “We don’t have to deal with what Jesus was clear about. You don’t have a relationship with God on your terms. We have a relationship with God on His terms, which is obedience.
Britt told Baptist Press there have been cases of husbands and wives baptized together, husbands being baptized in answer to their wives’ prayers, and three generations of baptism in one family. He also spoke of a man who was an hour and a half by the lake, watching the first service online. The man was convinced by the Holy Spirit and drove home to be baptized in a later service.
It was a “breakthrough Sunday,” said Britt, “where you saw the fruits of a lot of prayer, of a lot of work, of a lot of ministry, of a lot of preaching, of a lot of sowing. A day of harvest.
During the emotional service on August 22, some of the new believers wore beaming smiles; some shed tears of joy; some raised their hands in praise as they entered and left the baptistery.
“Baptism is the symbolic image of being buried with Christ in his death as we go underwater,” said Britt. “And when we go up, it’s a picture of being made alive and new in Christ.”
In a Sunday evening service, as the last new Christians were baptized, Britt spoke about how exciting the day had been for him.
“This is one of those days that you come into the ministry for,” he said. “God is still changing lives. God is still moving mountains.
JJ Washington, evangelism catalyst at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said mass baptisms show that the Bethlehem church has made reaching people with the gospel a priority.
“It shows that God is still at work, even in the midst of a pandemic,” he told the Christian Index. “The church prioritizes the importance of people taking their first step in obedience. “
Washington said that the experience of the Bethlehem church should be encouraging for other churches, “for there is no respect for people with God. Therefore, he is ready to do what he did at the Bethlehem Church in any church that is ready to make a commitment to making the advancement of the gospel above all else their top priority.