You know what's odd? The fact that every time a person came to Christ through the preaching of the Apostles, they would immediately get baptized. Have you noticed that? In Acts, whenever someone believed on Jesus, they found somewhere to baptize the person. In fact, they most likely preached near water!
The reason why I bring this up is because it's such a stark difference between the early church and the way we do things today. Today, it's all about "appointment". Today, it's all about a "religious ceremony" rather than a public declaration of faith.
Today, we have to be "ready" to be dunked because we have these expensive cell phones and clothing. We need to have a nice change of clothes and a camera for photo ops. And we can't forget the towels!
The problem here is the fact that baptism isn't taught much in church these days. The focus is all on "Repent and be saved!" But Christ called us to be baptized as well. We have altar calls for the repentant, but when's the last time you saw a "baptismal call"?
WHY isn't a church's baptismal OPEN and READY 24/7?? Don't you think the Apostles would put an emphasis on this? Who cares if it's a fancy pool or what have you? The point isn't fancy. The point is dunking. Got a swimming pool? Got a bathtub? A hot tub? Goodness, a water trough? Use what you got!!
There really is NO excuse for a church not to have a baptismal. Even if it's only a "glorified" water trough. The problem I see with not doing immediate baptisms the moment a new believer calls upon the name of the Lord is because they either:
A.) Don't know about baptism
B.) Don't think it's that important
C.) Put if off and procrastinate
D.) Don't know when or how to get baptized
Let me say this: Baptism doesn't save you. Only Jesus' work on the cross saves you.
However, He DID tell us to repent AND be baptized (Mark 16:16). It is a public declaration of your faith and an act of obedience to His command. You are symbolically dying to your old life and raising to a new life with Jesus. In that context, it makes SENSE to baptize right after conversion. There's no need to take a "class" and "learn" about baptism if it's PREACHED FROM THE PULPIT! Seriously, the Apostles did not give a class. They PREACHED and they dunked. End of story.
I waited a few years after I got saved before my baptism. I didn't know much about baptism and I also put it off because I didn't think it was that important. If baptism would have been preached along with repentance, I would have LOVED to have been baptized after I'd first believed! Let's put this in the perspective of Christ's Apostles two thousand years ago. Don't you think they would have been AGHAST at the thought of being baptized YEARS after you first believed on Christ? Seriously, years? Years?? And I'm sure I'm not the only one!
You never hear that when John the Baptist preached or St. Peter or St. Paul preached that people had second thoughts because they were going to get wet. Maybe there were some people in the crowd who didn't like that idea.
But let's put that into perspective. You're publicly proclaiming and giving your very life to the God of the universe and you're worried about some wet clothing? Really?
If anything else, churches should publicly display their baptism schedule so that new church members, veteran church members, or even people who might wander in off the street don't have to ask around, wonder about it, procrastinate, be too scared to ask someone, or not KNOW when baptisms are held.
Baptism is IMPORTANT, folks. The Apostles did it immediately upon conversion. This shouldn't be looked at as a "first century" thing. No, the Apostles knew that baptism was a PART of the conversion! It wasn't something to do "later" at a time that's "convenient".
Churches, I challenge you on this. Have a baptismal ready and someone willing to dunk a new believer at the drop of a hat. If nothing else, post a schedule of baptisms so that people don't have to wonder when they can join in. I've NEVER been to a church where I didn't have to go on a scavenger hunt for their next baptism ceremony! Ridiculous! The Apostles would be scandalized at the downplay of baptism in modern Christianity.
Let's be less worried about the ceremony and more worried about getting it done! What's the ratio of baptized believers to non-baptized believers? I bet you'd be astounded by how many Christians out there are NOT baptized due to our putting it off for a religious ceremony!!
And what would Jesus say about THAT, hmm? I thought He regularly put the smack down on "religious" types?