Why Not Try This? …Quickly Follow Up Campmeeting & Summer Camp Baptismal Decisions

Recently I met with the Idaho Conference pastors the Sunday morning after Campmeeting. Pastor Brian Yarborough, who led out in the Junior Division, handed out over a dozen cards of young people who had made decisions that week to follow Jesus and be baptized. These are “hot” interests and need a quick response.

Lots of kids are already at summer camp, and many of them will make decisions to follow Jesus and be baptized. These are also “hot” interests.

We pastors must be ready to quickly respond to these decisions as soon as the campers return home.

Ellen White gives this wake up call. “We must in our work not only strike the iron when it is hot but make the iron hot by striking. Slow, easy, indolent movements will do nothing for us in this work. We must be instant in season, out of season. These are critical times for work. By hesitation and delay we lose many good opportunities. . . . {Evangelism p. 647.1}

When we have a “hot” interest of a young person how should we respond? There are probably many ways, but I’d like to share with you a few ideas.

1)     Call the young person on the phone this week to congratulate them. If they are not home leave a message on the answering machine. Or send them an email. Let them know how proud Jesus is of their decision. Tell their parents how proud they can be of their child’s decision since it shows the young person wants Jesus to help him/her become more like Him.

2)     Set up a time to visit them within one week if possible. Summer can be filled with lots of activity, and if we are not careful, the decision will lose its value in the young person’s eyes if it isn’t quickly followed up.

3)     Begin a weekly group Bible study/Baptismal Class for young people if possible. At first you may have only one or two in the class, but as word spreads many times others will join. There are quite a few study guides that are useful. You can find a list of them at the Adventist Book Center website (click here for Baptismal Materials) or you can use the Amazing Facts Basic Set (click here for online lessons). Most churches keep a supply on hand.

4)     Involve church leaders, older youth and/or parents in the process. Ask them to help teach the lesson each week for those preparing for baptism.

5)     Connect the young person (and their family) with other church activities such as Sabbath School, Pathfinders, Church School, etc.

6)     Encourage the parents to have family worship and play a positive pro-active role in their child’s spiritual growth. There is excellent counsel in Child Guidance (by Ellen White), chapter 76 “Preparing for Church Membership.” There are insights on how to Teach Daily Repentance and Forgiveness, Instruct Briefly and Frequently, Recount God’s Promises, Make Religious Instruction Pleasant, Avoid Being A Stumbling Blocks to Our Children, Live in Harmony With Your Prayers, Know When Children Are Ready for Baptism and Carry Out The Parents’ Duty After Baptism.

A few years ago an eleven year old boy in my church made a decision for Jesus and baptism. I asked him who some of the academy students were that he looked up to spiritually. He gave me four names of young men. I went to each of them and asked if they would help for an hour a week with a Bible study group/Baptismal Class for a junior aged young man. All four agreed! Two of them would lead the study one week and the other two led the study the next week. I sat with them to answer questions or guide the conversation if needed. Once the plan started we invited others to join in. Within two weeks we had a group of almost a dozen in our Bible Study/Baptismal Class. Six were baptized within three months, and several more were by the end of the year. All of this came about because of that one young man’s decision for baptism and four academy students who were willing to be used by God. One of those four is a pastor today.

“When the happiest period of their life has come, and they in their hearts love Jesus and wish to be baptized, then deal faithfully with them. Before they receive the ordinance, ask them if it is to be their first purpose in life to work for God. Then tell them how to begin. It is the first lessons that mean so much. In simplicity teach them how to do their first service for God. Make the work as easy to be understood as possible. Explain what it means to give up self to the Lord, to do just as His Word directs, under the counsel of Christian parents. {Child Guidance p. 500.1}


Blessings to you,

Dan Serns

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