Baptisms are usually held at assemblies and conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the conclusion of the baptism talk, the speaker will ask the baptism candidates to stand and answer the following two questions in a loud voice:
1. Have you repented of your sins, dedicated yourself to Jehovah, and accepted his way of salvation through Jesus Christ?
2. Do you understand that your baptism identifies you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with Jehovah’s organization?
Affirmative answers to these questions constitute a “public declaration” by the baptism candidates that they have put faith in the ransom and have unreservedly dedicated themselves to Jehovah. (Rom. 10:9, 10) Baptism candidates will want to give prayerful thought to these questions in advance so that they can answer in harmony with their personal convictions.
Have you dedicated yourself to Jehovah in prayer, promising to worship only him and to make the doing of his will the most important thing in your life?
Are you now thoroughly convinced that you should get baptized at the earliest opportunity?
We should dress with “modesty and soundness of mind” so as to show our “devotion to God.” Thus, those getting baptized would not wear revealing swimwear or clothing with sayings or slogans. They should dress in a way that is neat, clean, in good taste, and appropriate for the occasion.
How should a person conduct himself when getting baptized? (Luke 3:21, 22)
Jesus’ baptism set the example for Christian baptisms today. He appreciated that baptism is a serious step, and this was reflected in his attitude and actions. Hence, the baptism site would not be the place for inappropriate humor, playing, swimming, or other conduct that would detract from the seriousness of the occasion; nor would a new Christian carry on as though he had won a great victory. While baptism is a joyful occasion, that joy should be expressed in a dignified manner.
How will meeting regularly and associating with the congregation help you to carry out your dedication to Jehovah?
After you get baptized, why will it be vital for you to maintain a good schedule of personal study and to share regularly in the ministry?
INSTRUCTIONS FOR CONGREGATION ELDERS
When an unbaptized publisher makes known his desire to get baptized, he should be encouraged to review carefully the “Questions for Those Desiring to Get Baptized,” found on pages 185-207 of this book. His attention should be directed to “A Message to the Unbaptized Publisher,” beginning on page 182, which explains how he can prepare for the discussions with the elders. As noted there, the prospective baptism candidate may use his personal notes and may have this book open during the discussions. However, there is no need for someone to review the questions with him before he meets with the elders.
Anyone desiring to get baptized should inform the coordinator of the body of elders. After the person requesting baptism has had time to read the “Questions for Those Desiring to Get Baptized,” the coordinator of the body of elders will ask the person if he has made a personal dedication in prayer to Jehovah to do His will. If the person has made a dedication, then the coordinator of the body of elders will make arrangements for two of the elders to discuss with the person the “Questions for Those Desiring to Get Baptized.” A different elder should be assigned to handle each of the two parts. It is not necessary to wait until an assembly or a convention is announced before having these discussions.
The two parts can usually be covered in two sessions of about one hour each, although there is no objection to using more time if that is necessary. Each session should be opened and closed with prayer. Neither the candidate nor the elders should be rushed when going through the questions. The assigned elders will want to make this discussion a priority in their schedule.
It is usually best to review the questions with each baptism candidate individually, not with a group of candidates. By having the candidate comment on every question, the elders will get a clear picture of his depth of understanding, leaving no doubt as to whether he is ready for baptism. Additionally, the one requesting baptism may be more inclined to express himself in this setting. A husband and wife may have these sessions together.
When the baptism candidate is a sister, the discussions should be held in such a way that they are held in plain view of others but out of earshot. If it is necessary to take along another person, he should be an elder or a ministerial servant, depending on the section being reviewed, as outlined in the next paragraph.
In congregations that have very few elders, capable ministerial servants who have demonstrated good judgment and discernment may review with individuals the questions for baptism outlined in “Part 1: Christian Beliefs.” Only elders should consider “Part 2: Christian Living.” If the congregation does not have sufficient qualified brothers, the circuit overseer may be contacted to determine if a nearby congregation may be able to assist.
When the baptism candidate is a minor, his believing parent(s) should be present for the sessions. If the parent(s) cannot be present, then two elders (or an elder and a ministerial servant, depending on the section being reviewed) should be involved in each session.
The elders will make sure that a person desiring baptism has acquired a reasonable understanding of basic Bible teachings. Additionally, they will want to ascertain whether he deeply appreciates the truth and demonstrates proper respect for Jehovah’s organization. If the person does not understand basic Bible teachings, the elders will arrange for him to receive personal assistance so that he can qualify for baptism at a later time. Others may need to be given time to demonstrate more appreciation for field service or submissiveness to organizational arrangements. It will be up to the elders to use discretion in apportioning the hour or so spent in each session in order to discern fully whether the person is ready for baptism. Although more time may be spent on certain questions and less time on others, all the questions should be reviewed.
The elders assigned to review these questions will meet after the second session and decide whether the person should be accepted for baptism or not. Elders will take into consideration the background, ability, and other circumstances of each person. Our interest is in those who have turned their heart to Jehovah and who understand fundamental Bible truths. With your loving assistance, those getting baptized will be adequately prepared to accomplish their important assignment as ministers of the good news.
Thereafter, one or both of the assigned elders should meet with the person and tell him whether he qualifies for baptism or not. If the person qualifies, the elders should review with him the “Concluding Discussion With Baptism Candidates,” found on pages 206-207. If the candidate has not yet completed his study of the Enjoy Life Forever! book, the elders should encourage him to do so after baptism. Inform the candidate that his baptism date will be added to the Congregation’s Publisher Record held in his name. Remind him that the elders collect this personal information from him so that the organization can continue to care for the religious activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide and so that he may participate in spiritual activities and receive spiritual support. In addition, the elders can remind new publishers that any personal information is handled according to the Global Data Protection Policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses, found on jw.org. This discussion should usually take only ten minutes or less.
One year after the publisher’s baptism, two elders should meet with him to provide encouragement and helpful suggestions. One of the elders should be the person’s group overseer. If the new one is a minor, his believing parent(s) should be present. The spirit of the meeting should be very warm and encouraging. The elders will discuss his spiritual progress and offer practical suggestions on how he can continue in a good routine of personal study and daily Bible reading, weekly family worship, faithful meeting attendance and participation, and weekly field service activity. (Eph. 5:15, 16) If he has not completed his study of the Enjoy Life Forever! book, the elders should make arrangements for someone to help him do so. The elders should be generous with loving commendation. Usually, counsel and suggestions on one or two points are sufficient.