A young N.C. Baptist church in Matthews baptized more than 1,000 people over two weeks in August to kick off “a season of awakening and revival.”
Worship services Aug. 3 and Aug. 10 featured what Elevation Church leaders called “spontaneous baptisms.”
Larry Brey, connections pastor at the church, said the 1,044 people “went off smiling” after they were baptized. He said the church baptized 629 people the first Sunday and 415 the next.
“It was a pretty crazy result,” he said.
Pastor Steven Furtick told the congregation at the beginning of a sermon Aug. 3 that those who had not been baptized would have a chance that day.
“Many of you are about to have the most significant day of your life today,” he said in the sermon, which is on the church’s web site at www.elevationchurch.org.
Furtick said the church had done a similar baptism emphasis in May 2007, when more than 400 were baptized.
“What better way to enter into a season of awakening and revival than to do it again,” he said.
Furtick said those who had not had the “opportunity or the courage” to be “biblically baptized” would have the chance that day.
“Not next month, not even next week. Before lunchtime today,” he said. “I pray that hundreds of you will take the biblical step and be baptized, and it is going to be one of the most significant occurrences in your life.”
Furtick said the spontaneous baptism effort was based on Acts 2:41, which shows that on the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 believed and were baptized, and on the story of the Ethiopian treasury official who stopped his chariot and was baptized by Philip in the nearest body of water.
Brey said those who wanted to be baptized at the end of each of the six services were taken to changing rooms, one for men and one for women. There they were asked their size and then given paper bags with shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops.
Those being baptized then changed clothes and went outside, where they walked up a set of steps then down steps into a tank of water, where they were baptized.
“From the time we started, we were basically baptizing all day,” Brey said. “It was pretty amazing.”
Although the church’s ministers took turns baptizing, Brey said he was “pretty sore” the next day.
The church has a “spontaneous baptism” kit on its web site for churches who want to replicate the effort.
Elevation held its first Sunday service in February 2006. The church was formed after eight families moved to Charlotte from the Shelby area to start a new church.
Some weeks, more than 4,000 attend services, now held at two high schools.