Part 6 of this series dealt with determining a person’s spiritual interest and persuading that person to take Bible studies. Part 7 explains how to bring a person to a decision for baptism upon completion of the studies, having shown a positive interest and conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The weakest link in bringing people to a decision for baptism is in knowing how to ask for it. The evangelist who never calls the people to come forward as a clear manifestation of their commitment to be baptized would baptize very few people. And the lay personal evangelist (working strictly through personal Bible studies in homes) who never asks his or her party at the end of the studies for baptism would get very few commitments. Less than five percent of potential baptismal candidates voluntarily ask for baptism. This is a great surprise to many laypersons, but experience by successful lay and church evangelists has shown this is a proven fact. Until the pastor or lay worker accepts this as truth, most candidates will slip through their fingers, and when this happens, the worker will soon get discouraged. Getting decisions calls for what some have called “holy boldness”—the courage to ask for decisions without fear, without embarrassment, and with total self-confidence. It includes the insight of knowing just the right questions to ask and the right time to ask them. God will give you that holy boldness, as He has given it to thousands of others, and He is patiently waiting for you to ask for it. If you don’t already have it, begin praying that God will give it to you. How, then, to get a decision for baptism?


There are several objections likely to be offered by people who have yet to decide to be baptized. One of the most common has to do with the Sabbath, and there are at least four reasons why people under conviction will shy away from baptism for reasons related to the Sabbath: 1) if they start keeping the Sabbath, they will lose their job, and this seems unbearable for many candidates; 2) by keeping the Sabbath they will lose the support of their spouse or other family members, which is a daunting problem; 3) by keeping the Sabbath they will lose friends and/or appear foolish to them, and this, too, is a fearful contemplation; and 4) by keeping the Sabbath they will invite the scorn and even wrath of the pastor and members of their former church, which they want to leave in peace.

A second objection, especially heard from Muslims, is the dishonor they will bring upon themselves by changing religions. This can mean rejection by their family, and may even—in some ultra-conservative Muslim societies—be life threatening.

A third objection is that the decision can’t be made alone since the group or community would have to agree, and in group-oriented societies, it is a barrier difficult to surmount. A frequent fourth objection is similar: the wish to wait for a spouse to make his or her decision so the two can be baptized together, although it seldom happens that way.

A fifth objection is the claim that they aren’t quite ready yet—not in a genuine sense, but as a reflection of some other unrelated problem or fear, which with skill can be ferreted out. Similarly, an occasional sixth objection is the fear of the physical act of baptism. Being immersed is a real fear held by some candidates.

A seventh objection is that the tithe they will be expected to pay is not within their budget, which usually implies that they do not have a clear understanding of the principle of tithe paying, failing to see the blessings God will give if they do pay tithe.

A seventh objection is that the tithe they will be expected to pay is not within their budget, which usually implies that they do not have a clear understanding of the principle of tithe paying, failing to see the blessings God will give if they do pay tithe.


The question is: how do we overcome these objections? Be assured, a skilled decision-getter, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can almost always move past these objections.

There are six steps that should be taken to answer the objections:

  1. Ask a question that can be answered with one or more Bible texts, and which increases the conviction.
  2. Provide the Bible text with the answer to your student.
  3. Let the student read the text, although you may look it up and hand him or her the Bible open to the text.
  4. Ask the question again after the student reads the text.
  5. Quietly but firmly look the student directly in the eye and patiently wait until the student answers—you must not give the answer to him or her and you must not take your eyes from his or her face until there is some kind of response.
  6. If there is no positive response, present yet another text and repeat the procedure. This process of making eye contact and not deflecting until there is a response is the most potent of all the strategies you can administer. It is the crucial part of the procedure.

Here are some suggestions of texts you may use for various situations:

  • For the student who is clearly under conviction but dragging his or her feet: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (Jas 4:17; see also 2 Cor 6:2 below).
  • For the student who is afraid of keeping the Sabbath: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exod 20:8–11).
  • For the student who is fearful of paying tithe: “Will a mere mortal rob God? . . . Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse” (Mal 3:8–11). Be sure to read the following verses for the promised results of paying tithe.
  • For the student who needs encouragement: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). One of your greatest tools is the matter of the danger of postponement.
  • For the student who needs to be reminded of God’s love for us: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jer 31:3).
  • For the student who needs to know that when you are disconnected from God, it is impossible to keep any one of the Ten Commandments: “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person” (1 John 2:3–4).
  • For the student who needs to know the danger of hardening one’s heart: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did” (Heb 3:7). To this, you may say, “Do you want to be like those people who saw all the evidence of God’s love for them during the exodus and yet rejected His calling?”

Lamar Phillips is a retired minister and church administrator who served for thirty-nine years in six world divisions.

2019 Fourth Quarter

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