I have always believed that Baptism is a personal decision that should be taken when you are ready. My DH was baptised before he met me. A few months ago we both applied for Church Membership but nothing has been said for ages. Last week my DH asked what was happening with the membership and he felt that he was being fobbed off. The said that they were waiting for more people to fill their forms in, but we know of a few that are waiting, certainly enough to make it worthwhile. Baptism was mentioned in this Sunday's service, and I can't remember it being said in so many words, but I got a strong feeling that the Church Membership won't be accepted until I am baptised. I guess this makes sense now that I think about it, but they could have just told us this...
I don't want to feel like I have to get baptised so I can become a member (ie doing it for the wrong reasons). I go to Church every Sunday and Bible Study each week. I pray and read the Bible. I want to be a member of my church because I feel accepted there and want to help out more and be more involved, but I don't feel like I am yet "good enough" to be born again. I have lots of worries like I have no idea what my testimony would be, I don't have one. And another thing - my Dh says that a lot of people come out of the water crying or speaking in tongues. What if I don't! What if by not getting baptised I am not doing what God wants? Also I have some views that are not in line with my Church (for example, I support Gay Marriage - I don't want a thread about this - this is what I believe and it is non-negotiable) - does this matter for Baptism or membership?
I know it must be my decision and mine alone, but I would like to ask a question to those of you that have been baptised as an adult. How did you know that you were ready?
In a rush, but just wanted to say, please please do not worry that you are not 'good enough' to be baptised. None of us are good enough! Are you ready to be born to new life in Christ? Are you ready to trust yourself to him, and to let him remake you through grace? That is all you need. I saw someone the other day wearing a t shirt that said '40 years with Jesus and he's still not finished with me!'. We're all works in progress, and baptism isn't the end of the journey by any means.
I can't help feeling that the problem here is more about a mismatch between what you want and the way your church seems to be behaving. They aren't being clear and honest about membership/baptism, you say you feel accepted and yet you also feel "not good enough", you feel pressured about the "charismatic" aspects of your church, you have strongly held views which are at odds with your church's teaching.
I don't think your problem is with baptism - Jesus loves you as you are, being "good enough" isn't part of the deal, all you are doing at baptism is saying that you know you aren't perfect but you want to have a relationship with Jesus and let him help you to be better - but with your church.
Is there a particular reason you are going to this church? Was it DHs before you got together? Have you considered looking at other churches/denominations which might be more accepting of your views?
FWIW I didn't get baptised as an adult, as I was baptised as a baby, but I chose not to get confirmed when I was the "usual" sort of age and fell out of church for a long while. Then I came back to it as an adult and got confirmed. It just felt like I wanted to be part of the church and was ready to say so publicly, the teaching for confirmation wasn't about being good enough, just about "this is what the church/this denomination teaches, do you want to align yourself with that?"
Is there any reason you don't want to get baptised? Apart from the fear of not coming out of the water crying or speaking in tongues?! I've seen people doing the crying bit but never seen anyone come out of the water speaking in tongues. Maybe it would be worth speaking to one of the church leaders about it. While in some ways I think baptism is a huge thing, on the other hand it is very simple really. Jesus wanted people to believe and be baptised so it is just a little step of obedience and showing people you believe. (Of course there's the whole minefield of adult v child baptism but I'm not going down that route!). If you don't feel you have a testimony then you could chat to the leader about that too, or just think of something God has done for you, however small it might seem to you. I was once asked about my testimony and realised I didn't have one. The person said well just tell us what God has done for you and I realised I had absolutely no idea, which set me off on a whole new path of discovering God.
in some churches particularly some more reformed baptist churches church membership is only for those you have been baptised ie baptism precedes church membership, some churches that practice adult baptism will accept infant baptism for church membership if you are transferring membership from another church however if you have not been a church member before they may expect baptism first but they should have explained church rules
you need to check church membership rules for some churches membership is just being on the communion roll for other churches membership means a lot more because the form of church government is my members only maybe lead by elders/ pastors etc, therefore for church membership you may need to be baptised you might need to sign a brief statement saying you agree with the churches core beliefs
reading your OP it sounds like your present church takes membership/ baptism very seriously and only allows church members to take things like sunday school, though highly unlikely to require this just to help out
baptism is not about being good enough it is about trusting in christ alone and his death on the cross for your salvation and having a personal relationship with him, therefore the church would feel if you are not ready to be baptised the first step you are not ready for membership which it would see as a step further in most churches with adults membership would be automatic with baptism but in a lot of churches baptism of young er people ie age 10-16 may still mean full communion but not full membership until age 16 as that gives voting rights in church government
You will know when it is time to be baptised when you hear Jesus say to you:"I want you." Nothing else will matter any more, you just want to do anything, anything at all because you want Jesus in your life. Of course there is value in prayer in Bible reading and in church attendance, but nothing is more important than having that relationship with Jesus and knowing that is the most important thing in your life. Having said that, I don't think your church's leadership is very encouraging and they are giving out all the wrong signals. Frankly I do not think I would want to be in membership at a church where other things than a relationship with Jesus are considered essential. Coming up out of the water crying or speaking in tongues means nothing at all. And you will never, ever be 'good enough' to be baptised. We none of us are 'good' at all, only Jesus. Look carefully at what He has done for you and consider your response.
Thanks for all of your replies. Sorry it took so long to post back I have been quickly checking replies last week but have only just found time to log in and post.
I have been doing lots of thinking, and I didnt really know much about baptism when I first posted, and now know a lot more. You all really helped me to realise that baptism is only the beginning of a journey, not the end, and I dont have to be ready in terms of holiness. Im still not sure if I am ready in myself. There are things from my past that I need to accept that Jesus has forgiven me for. I know that I do want to be baptised, but it is a huge thing and I dont want to feel pushed into a decision for the wrong reasons. I think it is a decision that should be reached by me alone.
I am doing a baptism course this week so I can ask my questions there. Thanks again for taking the time to reply. Ill update with how it goes.
Do it when you feel ready, do it where you feel is right. You are already completely acceptable to Christ because you want to follow him, and you know nothing you can do on this earth will make you more acceptable. But I do think it needs to be the right time for you.
Don't worry what you do when you come out of the water.
(I agree with the gay marriage bit.)
I was baptised as an adult by sprinkling but was not a Christian! I just really want to follow God and later I did make a commitment to Jesus and was confirmed. So have never had a full immersion baptism. Part of me feels sorry I did not but I did choose to accept my baptism as I chose it and although I did not know the full story at the time I wanted to know God.
I hope you find the right way for you.
I am sure God is just beaming reading this, that you are such a lovely person and so keen to do the right thing, and I am sure he would want me to say, YOU are GOOD ENOUGH!
Update: Very eventful week. I started the week just wanting to find out more about Baptism, and now I am going to be baptised this weekend! I missed the Baptism course (medical reason), which I did think at first was a sign that I wasnt ready. I am fine now but there was a chance I could have died, so that got me thinking about my life. I went to bible study and it really felt that God was speaking to me. I had a one to one chat with the pastor about Baptism and made the decision that now is the right time for me. I am still terrified as I dont like attention and speaking in public. There will probably be about 100 people there and I have visions of being asked why I want to be baptised (I have opted for questions rather than testimony) and me going umm, I dont know! (like DD does when I ask her what she did at school). Ill get something memorised over the weekend so that doesnt happen. Thanks for all of your help and advice. Ill let you know how it goes.
"I could have died, so that got me thinking about my life. I went to bible study and it really felt that God was speaking to me and I feel that now is the right time for me to be baptised". Quoted from your post. My dear, that's all the answer you need. Just stick with it. Every blessing for the weekend, I am so pleased that you got clarity about what you need to do.
I read this thread a while ago and just wanted to wish you all the best findingme. I hope your baptism is a great experience. I'm not baptised, often wonder if I'll be brave enough to do it! Do let us know how it goes.
Well, I did it! I went for writing a testimony instead of questions. I wrote it about an hour beforehand and it just came to me. After hours online studying other peoples testimonies and not having a clue what I could write, I managed to write mine without even thinking about it. I was very nervous, and I must have gone so red when I read it out, but everyone said after that I did really well.
I am now trying to decide if/how I feel different. I think I feel happier in myself more at peace. It is very humbling to believe that God is with you, when you are one of many, but I truly believe that He was there with me yesterday. How else would I have been able to write my testimony and stand up in front of all those people?
Zulubump, if you really want to get baptised and just dont feel brave enough, my advice would be, just do it! Trust that God will give you the strength.