Transformation requires intentional leadership. Leadership that involves prioritising, planning, practical action, people and prayer.

It saw all five of those things last Sunday as we had a brilliant day at The Belfrey. We had three excellent gatherings and in particular some inspiring baptisms at XI and The6 as 12 people chose to publicly mark that they’re now following Jesus for life. Hearing their stories was moving and we celebrated with them this new life they’ve discovered. But one reason why the celebration was so good was the leadership and strategic decision-making that had gone on in the background before the day. Many people present on the day wouldn’t realise, but without leadership Sunday’s baptisms would not have happened as they did. It was the strategic leadership that made the day not just good but great! So what were the leadership decisions that had gone on in the background? Here are five.

1. Prioritise

We made a decision as a church a few years ago that baptism was to be a high priority and that we’d try to baptise every month. So we’ve been looking to baptise and have intentionally been encouraging people who’ve come to faith to be baptised. That’s why we have a clergy member who is responsible for baptisms. We don’t want to put people off baptism, especially children, so we make sure the water is warm. We had to make some readjustments to church plumbing and heating a few years ago to make sure this would happen. It was worth the investment.

2. Plan

We set the date in advance. Each candidate was met with to make sure they knew what they were doing and had any questions answered. They were prepared. We also had the baptisms very much in mind in planning the rest of the time together. Baptisms are a time to celebrate and so worship leaders planned celebratory songs as we lifted high the God who changes lives.

3. Practical

We needed a pool and so checked that our baptism pool was not booked out to anyone else. It was filled in good time and someone made sure that proper health and safety procedures were in place. Once everyone was out of the pool the wet floor was mopped and some even got on the hands and knees to dry it off to make sure the area was safe and dry.

4. People

All this involved people. So to do this well we not only needed candidates, but also Ben and Mike to prepare them and a great service leader in Ben to interview and take them through the words to be said. We also needed practical people like Paul, Adam and Clem to set up and mop up. We needed Ruth to make sure that the promises the candidates made were on laminated cards ready for them, and Sam to ensure they were the same as the words on the screen. We needed Jack to work the remote camera and a technical team of Hannah, Sam and Graham to make sure it was projected onto the big screen so people further back could see clearly what was going on. To do all this involved team-work and people. Great, servant-hearted people.

5. Pray

Perhaps most important, though was prayer. Don’t forget that prayer is strategic! We’ve been praying for more conversions and resulting baptisms for a few years and are beginning to see the increase. We covered this particular Sunday in prayer. It’s all part of our desire to see ‘the Lord adding daily to our number those being saved’ (Acts 2:47). We’ve prayed for that many times and will continue to do so because we believe that nothing of lasting significance happens without prayer! But it’s not just about prayer. Prayer and action go together.

Deciding to prioritise baptism has been a strategic leadership decision at The Belfrey. Not only is it good and right and biblical, it’s basic to our 4 objectives of making disciples, nurturing disciples, developing leaders and planting churches. Without baptism there is no starting point. No initiation. No pipeline.

There are still things we can improve. Still things we can work on and do better. We are still learning and we want to learn, because baptisms are very important to us. The team get this! They are on board – and want us to do this as well as we possibly can. But it only happens with intentional decision-making and leadership.

What about you? Is there an area of work or influence that you want to see changed or improve? Why not use these 5 headings as a way of being intentional in leading that change in order to see vision turned to action?