How & Why We Baptized 270 People in One Weekend

This weekend changed the trajectory of our church in an immeasurable way. Our pastor and teams designed the entire weekend experience around a huge celebration of believers baptism. While we know the number of those baptized, we are not entirely sure of the ripple effects of their life change. As a church, measurements matter and often reveal areas of health, or where improvement might be needed, but not all measurements reveal the maximum impact or reach of the church.

One thing we measured this weekend was the number of adults, children, and students who were baptized at each campus. At the campus I look after, 270 people went public with their faith through water baptism. While we know that number is accurate, we don’t know every story behind each number. But we have faith to believe that each number represents an answer to prayer, and the potential to change the world.


So how did we baptize 270 in one weekend?

1. We PREACHED about baptism 
Pastor Todd and our creative team did a great job recording a message that clearly delivered why believers baptism in so important in the life of every believer. You can watch the message here.

2. We shared baptism STORIES 
In every service, we celebrated baptisms following our greeting during a worship song that thematically matched baptism. We also had a live testimony from someone who was going to be baptized later in the day. These baptisms, and the sharing of life story, helped build the momentum throughout the service.

3. We allowed for SPONTANEITY
We attempted to remove every excuse possible. Yes, there is an expense to this, but it’s well worth it. We provided free shirts that each person could keep following the baptism, and also provided shorts and towels that we requested to be returned after each use. While we lost some towels and shorts, most were returned. Providing additional changing areas also helped us get people prepared more easily.

4. We involved our KIDS & STUDENTS 
Both our Children’s and Student teams funneled interest to this weekend. We provided both Student and Child orientations for kids and their parents to attend. These orientations provided parents with the ability to help determine if their child was ready for baptism.


5. We threw a PARTY!
Our church family stayed following the services to celebrate all that God was doing. We threw a simple party with snacks and music to help create an atmosphere of celebration. While every church may not be able to afford to provide refreshments, a little music goes a long way.

So why did we do it? Two reasons:

1. We are COMMANDED to!
Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19,20

2. We NEEDED to!
Baptism celebration reminds us why we do what we do. It is a reminder of our vision and mission as a church. Celebrating the life-transformation God is performing helps keep our volunteers engaged and our staff impassioned.

I’m more energized today because of what I witnessed this weekend. We often say at Christ Fellowship, “What I am a part of is bigger than the part I play.” I’m just so thankful I get to play a small part in it. The best is yet to come.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20,21

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4 Things I Ask my Team to Measure Every Weekend

If you’re only counting attendance and offering at your church, you’re not counting enough. As a campus pastor, I want to know more than just who showed up and who contributed to our weekly offering. While those metrics are helpful, that don’t tell us enough because they don’t communicate the overall atmosphere of the weekend, how many people are serving, or what kind of issues need to be addressed during the week. Churches measure all different types of things, but there are four things I have my team report back on every weekend.

I’ve asked my team to generate this report and submit it every Sunday before leaving the campus. Even after a long weekend, it’s important for everyone to report back while the information is fresh. The report is sent via text message or email, but most of the team members prefer to send me an email.

The report includes each of the following four “S” metrics:

SPIRIT:
I ask each team member to reflect and share their overall feeling or vibe of the weekend from the services to the environment and atmosphere of the department they lead. The spirit of the weekend also captures what people are talking about, and the common theme of discussion throughout the campus. Often this part of the report is brief and to the point.

STORIES:
Each staff member is asked to share a brief story of an encounter they had with a volunteer or guest and how the ministry of Christ Fellowship is impacting their life. For the purpose of this recap, I ask for a quick summary and picture of the person if possible. These stories become incredibly helpful as we try and track individual stories of radical transformation.

STRUGGLES:
Every church, regardless of size, encounters struggles on the weekend. I want my team to share any areas where they experienced tension or difficulties which impacted their ministry (i.e. event management systems down, AC not working, ran out of food, media issues, not enough volunteer coverage, etc.). These issues are sometimes solved on the weekend, but from time-to-time, they become items to be addressed early in the week.

STATS:
We count people because people count, right? But there is more to count than just attendance. I ask my team to provide any statistical data from each of their departments that might be helpful in measuring our overall health as a campus, including:

  • Attendance
  • Volunteer check-in
  • Orientations/training
  • Baptisms
  • Decisions for Christ
  • Volunteer to attendee ratio
  • Any other pertinent info to the overall success of their ministry area

These reports help me look for common denominators over the course of the weekend, and where we might need to focus as a team. Measuring more than just the stats also keeps me focused on more than just the numbers. It also requires our entire team to be intentional on capturing stories of life change and spiritual growth. These reports also help me to generate my weekly report for our senior pastors and multisite director.

So that’s what we measure on the weekend. What are you counting and how are your teams reporting back to you?

One Thing a Campus Pastor Shouldn’t Say

No senior pastor ever wants to hear: “I don’t have any stories of life-change from my campus this weekend.” You simply cannot have that response, ever. In fact, you should be the best storyteller in the church. As a campus pastor, one of your primary responsibilities each week, is to capture, celebrate and circle back on stories of radical transformation, because your senior pastor and executive leadership team are depending on you to celebrate more than just the weekend statistics from your campus.

Last year, I had the opportunity to interview Kevin Queen, a campus pastor at 12Stone Church in Atlanta, GA. I’ll never forget the statement he made regarding metrics: “I don’t measure the success of my campus in numbers, but in stories and seasons of life-change”. That statement totally convicted me, because capturing stories were not part of my weekly dashboard (I’ll write more about metrics & dashboards in the future). Following my conversation with Kevin, I became more intentional about listening to the stories in every conversation I had with church attendees. Everyone has a story, and every story matters to God. Sure, some stories sound larger than life but each and every story is worth sharing. When you’re only listening to drama-filled stories, you might miss the simple story of spiritual growth in someone’s life. By the way, any step in spiritual growth towards Jesus is radical growth worth recognizing.

Statements that tell me I might hear a story of life-change often begin like this:
– “I’m new here and…”
– “I never thought I would have…”
– “This is my first time in church and…”
– “My friend or coworker said I should visit here because…”
– “I just started a new…”
– “Something told me to…”
– “I’ve got to tell you something…”
– “I’ve been praying and…”

These are just a few of the statements people make when they’re trying to tell you a part of their story. Following those statements could be the words that will reveal how their life has been impacted by you, your church or the Holy Spirit.

To track and share the stories that I hear each weekend, I:

  • write down their name. I keep a small Moleskine journal in my back pocket and actually write down people’s name and basic info. I don’t want to be seen as the pastor who is always on his phone in those settings. I learned this concept from Rich Birch over at unSeminary.com in his post on 8 Habits of a Highly Effective Campus Pastor. Getting their information also allows me to follow up later in the week on their progress and possible next steps.
  • ask if we can grab a photo. I typically ask them if I can share their story publicly and most people don’t have a problem with that (especially if you let them approve the photo).
  • post to Instagram or Twitter. The more stories you share, the more you inspire your volunteers and leadership with what is happening at your campus. See my example below.
  • include their story in my weekend report to my supervisor. You will be surprised how well your leader connects to the story when the image is attached. As a bonus, these stories become compelling illustrations for your senior pastor to use in their upcoming messages.

As you begin to listen more critically to stories of transformation at your campus, get the details no matter how much or how little. Don’t just measure the attendance and the amount in the offering, measure and share the stories of life-change you a’rre hearing. At Christ Fellowship we say: “Every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story matters to God.”


How are you celebrating the stories of transformation at your campus?