This morning was a very special Easter Sunday service for my family and I. Today, my husband baptised our 15 year old son, Josiah, and I baptised one of my close friends, Helen. It was a joy and privilege to be involved in this public affirmation of their spiritual journeys, and the moment will stay with me for many years.
I’ve only recently realised “laypeople” have the right to baptise one another. Jesus gave all of his followers a mandate to make disciples, baptise them and teach them to obey his commands. These are not tasks we can or should outsource to professionals. I’m not a pastor in our local church. Neither is my husband (although he is an ordained minister and runs “church in a circle” during the week). In most churches, the clergy perform the baptisms on behalf of the whole community. I now believe it is appropriate for anybody to baptise the people they are personally discipling.
To be honest, I’m reluctant to use the word “laypeople” at all. I believe all of us are priests in God’s service. Our baptism is our ordination. Today, Helen and Josiah were ordained as fully fledged ministers in their own right, qualified to disciple others, baptise them and teach them to obey. Sure, they’re at an early stage of their journey, but they have the same status in God’s eyes as the greatest celebrity pastor of the biggest mega-church.
There are many little ways your church can work towards empowering God’s people to become involved participants, co-workers in Christ, rather than passive consumers. Allowing and encouraging them to baptise the people they are discipling is just one small, symbolic step towards activating the priesthood of all believers, and challenging the notion that any of us are “just” laypeople.