Josh Hunt

How to Baptize One Million People!

Last week I applauded the goal that Bobby Welch has set before us as Southern Baptists: to baptize one million people a year.

A million people a year is three times what we are baptizing now. How can we do it?

First, we can't accomplish anything except by relying on Christ. He is the Vine; we are the branches. Without Him we can do nothing. But, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. This spiritual foundation is the necessary foundation. What comes next?

"Yard by yard, life is hard; inch by inch, it's a cinch," counsels motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. So, let's break it down.

The Reality Principle

If you wanted directions to my house, the first thing I would ask is, "Where are you now?" Where are we now? Where are we relative to the goal of baptizing a million people a year?

At the present time we have about 4 million attending Sunday School classes and small groups. Each class has about 10 people, which means we have about 400,000 groups. Baptisms are currently a little less than 400,000, or about a third of a million. We have over 42,000 churches. 10,000 of them didn't baptize anyone last year.

This means that the average church has a little less than 100 people attending Sunday School, and baptizes a little less than 10 a year. (I like to use round numbers to simplify things.) To put it a different way, we are baptizing about one person per class per year. (This includes children, youth, preschool and adult classes.)

In order to baptize a million people in a year, we need to triple our baptism rate. This means that every church would need to baptize 25% of their Sunday School attendance. If you average 500 in Sunday School, this means baptizing 125 per year. It also means every class baptizing 3 people a year. A slightly easier goal to remember is one person per quarter. Note, this assumes a class size of 10 in attendance. If it is a larger class, say 30, it means baptizing 3 people per quarter, or 12 a year.

These goals closely parallel the goals I have been setting before groups for years now: for every group to thoroughly assimilate 2 new people per quarter. A thoroughly assimilated person is a person whose name is scribbled in half a dozen members' phone books. A thoroughly assimilated person is one whose number is in your cell phone.

Question: how long has it been since your class baptized someone?

You say it has been a while? Do you feel good about that?

This is exactly what goal-setting is to do for us. As we break it down, it causes us to evaluate what we are doing now and the results we are getting.

If we keep doing what we have been doing, we will keep getting what we have been getting. Trite, but true.

The Action Principle

God rewards those who take action. We reap what we sow.

Goal setting forces us to evaluate our progress against our goal. If we don't like what we see, we have a biblical word for that: repent.

Repent means to go a different direction. To change. To do something different. Here is what I suggest you do.

  • Plan 3 parties a quarter. Many of the parties can be seasonal things--July 4th parties, New Years, Super Bowl, Labor Day, and so forth. Some can be simple--like lunch together. Some may be more elaborate--like a weekend retreat, a trip to Promise Keepers, or a Women of Faith weekend. Some can be expensive; most should be inexpensive.
  • From time to time-perhaps as often as once a week, host smaller events. Invite some friends over to play cards, or watch a movie together. Include absentees and prospects in the invitation list. Obey the biblical command to, "Get in the habit of having people over for dinner." (Romans 12.13) Again, don't invite just your friends, as Jesus taught us. "The next time you put on a dinner, don't just invite your friends and family. . ." Luke 14:12 [Msg] I call this ministry, "Giving Friday nights to Jesus." If you are a pastor, this is part of your God-given job description. "For an elder must. . .  enjoy having guests in his home." 1 Tim. 3:2 [NLT]
  • Get a team of people to help you with this. You can't do it all. Your are probably doing all you can do, perhaps all you should do. The key is not to do more, more, more. It is not to do the work of 10 men; it is getting 10 men in the work. Jesus taught us that the harvest is plentiful--no problem there. What is the problem? The laborers are few. The bottleneck of the evangelistic/ disciplemaking process has always been laborers. Modern research bears this out. 82% of unchurched are at least somewhat likely to come to church if invited. As we get more laborers involved, we get more work done.
    • We need a fellowship team to plan the fellowships. If you have not done a lot of this, you have no idea how much trouble it is to have fun. Someone has to buy the Diet Coke. Someone has to pick up the movie. Someone has to pick up the house. (I prefer to pick up the movie!)
    • We need inreach leaders to invite everyone whose name appears on the class role.
    • We need outreach leaders to keep up with and invite a list of prospects to each fellowship.
    • We need prayer leaders who will pray for the advancement of the kingdom through our group. Jesus taught us that without Him we can do nothing. Nothing. Not just a little. Nothing. Unless God blesses and draws people unto Himself, our work will be in vain.
    • We need a Class President to coordinate and oversee and make sure everyone does what they are supposed to. This could be the teacher, but normally it is not. Teachers like to teach. They like to study and read and communicate. We need someone who likes to lead. Someone who knows how to delegate and work through people and get the whole group functioning in a healthy way.
  • We need half-way decent teaching, each and every week, nothing less will do. Good outreach will not overcome bad teaching. This is illustrated in the parable of the NO GOOD DOG FOOD COMPANY. I have a book, video and seminar on Disciplemaking Teachers to help your teachers improve. If you don't think you teach all that well, you might consider reading my article on "How a '3' can be a '10'"

How do we make these things happen? I have some tools to help.

  • I have 60-something conferences currently scheduled. One may be in your area. Most of these are open to the public, but you do need to contact the local host to be sure. See to check the most current, up-to-date conference schedule. I have also recently released a promo video you can use to motivate people to attend the live seminar.
  • I'd love to come to your church or Association and do a conference. If we can piggy back on an existing trip, all the better. Otherwise, we can plan a trip to your place, and I will try to get other churches in the area interested and make a trip out of it. Cost: $800 plus expenses. There is nothing like a live presentation to get your people motivated.
  • Read the book, and get your people to read it. You can purchase them online here, or in quantities, here.
  • Double Your Class is also available on video. This is the live presentation broken up into six session so that you can watch, discuss, and put it into practice.
  • I can double your group in two years or less. Let me teach each of your classes or one quarter through this interactive video curriculum call the FACTS about Doubling Classes.
  • I send out a weekly e-newsletter. Archives are available here. These Teacher Tips features stories of people that are doubling, ideas about how to double, and other useful information.
  • I write lessons that you can use to help you teach. These consist of 20 - 30 ready to use questions based on the assigned text. For more information, click here.

Does it work? This is how the early church grew, as noted by the great church historian Adolf Harnack, "The practice of hospitality within Christian homes did more to forward the advancement of Christianity than anything else." [quoted from The Church Comes Home, by Robert and Julia Banks, page 50]

The fastest growing church in the world is growing through doubling groups. Andy Stanley is betting the farm on doubling groups. Any Christian can reach 1000 people in 10 years through doubling groups. If we would baptize a million people a year, I say we do it through doubling groups.