“Is my junior high or high school student ready for baptism?” As a youth pastor, I hear that question often! And my response is typically that parents know best. You know your student’s story better than anyone else.
How Can I Know My Student Is Ready?
Here are some questions to think through:
1. Does your student understand the gospel and can they articulate it in a personal way?
Often the first question in a pre-baptism interview is “What is the gospel message?” The response given is typically something like, “Jesus died for the forgiveness of the sins of the world” or “Jesus died for the church.” While both of those statements are true, they are not personal statements.
Understanding the global implication of salvation is important, but before a student is baptized, they need to understand that salvation is personal to them. Confirm that your student knows Jesus died for the forgiveness of their sins and that the gospel changes them, personally, wholly, and individually. Look for a true belief that Jesus rose and conquered death, giving life to them eternally.
2. Does your student understand what it means to be baptized?
Understanding the “why” of baptism is also important. Can your junior high or high school student explain why they want to be baptized and what baptism means in relation to the church? Look together at what the Bible says about baptism and what it symbolizes in the life of a believer and make sure they understand the significance of baptism to the believer and the church.
3. Can your student explain how salvation has changed them personally?
Finally, ask your student, “How has salvation changed you?” Salvation and following Jesus are life changing for all believers. It is a literal turning from selfish desires and motives to selflessly living for Jesus and others. Take time to hear your student’s story and make sure their life bears evidence of the fruit of salvation. Along with your student, praise God for the ways he is working in their life.
The questions above are not a one-stop shop for knowing if your student is ready for baptism, but they can serve as a guide to help uncover where they are in their story of grace.
A Word of Caution
Be cautious in continually telling your student they are not ready for baptism. You know your student better than anyone else and should trust your discernment on their readiness. However, you may unintentionally create a culture of perfectionism that does not fit with the gospel. By God’s grace, we do not need to have all our ducks in a row before we can stand before the church to be baptized. Instead, we stand before the church acknowledging our imperfections and proclaiming that Christ has covered those imperfections with his blood. Look to find the balance between trusting when your student says they are ready and not letting them jump ahead too quickly.
Start the Baptism Process
If you think your junior high or high school student is ready for baptism, encourage them to pursue baptism by starting the baptism process at College Park. Baptism is something to celebrate, encourage, and affirm, and we look forward to celebrating along with you all that the Lord is doing in and through your student.