One of the really exciting traditions we have established in our early history at Harvest Bible Chapel of Jacksonville is beach baptisms. There is something truly powerful about taking baptism out of the walls of the church and bringing what we call the “public profession of faith” to a truly “public” venue. Each time we baptize at the beach we have numerous onlookers who are not affiliated with our church and perhaps not at all with Christianity. We bring along printed testimonies of the people who are being baptized that day and distribute them on the beach. These testimonies are accompanied by a simple, biblical Gospel presentation.
Yesterday I checked the local news and was intrigued by the headline story of a Great White shark named “Mary Lee”. It turns out she has been hanging out off the coast of Jacksonville Beach for the past few days. Because the 3,500 pound, 16 1/2 foot Great White is marked with a GPS tracker, one can track her movements. Two nights ago “Mary Lee” came very close to the shore. In fact, according to my calculations she was no more than 20-25 yards from where we stood in October during our latest beach baptism:
Perhaps we should rethink our bi-annual beach baptisms. What do you think? Should we bring the baptisms back into the walls of the local church? Or should be continue “going public” with the baptisms, even if there is a slight risk we will bump into a hungry shark?