By: Justine Tegen
We live in a time where we love personal pronouns. We iMessage people on our iPhones while setting up profiles to personalize our experience on Netflix, Amazon, Instagram, and even the grocery store.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It simply reveals what we value. And considering the language of our day—we value individuality. We use the same language in the church when we talk about a “personal relationship with Jesus.” We place a high priority on personal responsibility and personal choice.
All of this is great. But I wonder if sometimes our emphasis on individuality makes it tough for us to see the way our decisions for better or worse impact our entire community. For example, imagine someone in your home or in your friend group takes on a new job. That decision may change the level of resources that person has. Maybe they hang out less. Maybe they have more money and can help chip in on meals. Maybe they are stressed and that stress is felt by the family, friends, and roommates who interact with this person daily.
We don’t make decisions in a vacuum and every “personal” choice we make has implications for those closest to us. And this can be a really awesome thing.
Take baptism for example. What if when someone makes the decision to get baptized it impacts the entire community?
Over the last several years, I have had the chance to watch and talk with people who are deciding to be baptized. And I’m starting to recognize a pattern.
Baptism spreads. I’ve seen it spread through families, friend groups, small groups. A child may decide to get baptized and the next spring we see their mom and dad in the pool. Or a teen may decide to get baptized and the next year their younger sibling and members of their small group have signed up. Sometimes in one small group, we will see several people deciding together that it is time to go public with their faith. I don’t think this is a coincidence.
Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit moving through one person and speaking to and through family members and friends. Maybe it is peer pressure. Maybe baptism is viral in nature, and we can get a good idea of where we caught it but can’t totally explain the mystery.
I don’t know exactly how it happens, but I can see faith decisions moving through families and friend groups. And I suspect what I see is just the beginning. When someone steps into that pool on a Sunday morning, we may never know who is looking on feeling challenged, encouraged, or called back to faith. And when one person decides that they are going all in, we may never be able to measure the way this renewed the community’s passion for the lost, nurtured a sense of unity, or deepened our collective resolve to stay committed to the mission.
So to those in our community stepping into the pool, thanks for making a personal decision that will have far reaching implications for our ALIVE community. Can’t wait to celebrate with you this Sunday!
See you Sunday!