Baptism at Brainerd

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Our vision at Brainerd is to help those who are far from God become committed followers of Christ.  

What may not be clear in the statement above is that we never “arrive” as committed followers, but we are committed to an on-going relationship with Christ.  The Bible teaches us one of the first steps in this commitment as a follower of Christ is to identify with Christ through believer’s baptism.   

At Brainerd, we use the following statement, shared with other Southern Baptist churches, to describe our beliefs about baptism:

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.

Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:18-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12.

Using this statement as a guide, let’s look at some specifics to further explain our beliefs concerning baptism.  

  • Baptism is for believers and signifies their faith in a crucified, buried and risen Savior. Baptism identifies the follower of Christ with His death, burial, and resurrection just as each follower of Christ has died to his sin, buried the old life, and found new life as an adopted child of God. We often use other words to describe this experience. We say the follower of Christ has confessed their sin, repented of their sin, and been born again (Romans 10:9-10, Romans 6:1-11, Colossians 2:11-12, 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, Romans 8:14-17, Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11). Baptism is the follower of Christ’s public identification with Christ and demonstrates their commitment to follow Him as their King wherever He leads and to do whatever He calls them to do (Matthew 28:18-20).

One of the first and most public ways a follower of Christ identifies with their Savior and King is through baptism (Romans 6:3-11; Galatians 3:27). Individually, through baptism, the believer is symbolizing their identity with Christ in His death and resurrection.  Corporately, the baptized believer is uniting with every other follower of Christ, who are all one with Christ (Acts 2:37-47, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13).  The follower of Christ is symbolically declaring through baptism that he/she has died to his/her former life ( in a vivid watery grave), iw buried in the likeness of Jesus’ death, and is then raised to walk in newness of life (demonstrating that he/she is now following a new pattern of life with Jesus).

New Testament, or “believer’s baptism”, has only one prerequisite: conversion. You must be born again by repenting of your sins and placing your faith and hope in Jesus. You are to be baptized once you have become a follower of Christ. Infant baptism reflects the best loving intentions of a family; however, the child is not old enough to have any decision, confession, or trust in the matter. In Scripture, baptism came after someone had consciously and purposefully made a personal decision to follow and trust Jesus as Savior and Lord (Acts 2:40-41, 8:12). Baptism is a commitment of your will to follow Jesus, not the will of someone else. 

Baptism does not save you (Ephesians 2:8-9). Your sins are wiped away and you experience forgiveness only by confessing and believing (1 Peter 3:18; Romans 10:9-12). Baptism is meant to be one of the first acts of obedience after putting your faith in Christ. It is the believer’s public declaration that Jesus is his/her King.  

  • Christian baptism is immersion … in water. The Greek word used in the New Testament  for baptism is "baptizo" which means to plunge, dip, or immerse.  

  • Baptism is a public testimony. It is a verbal and visible declaration both to the Church and the watching world of a believer's commitment to follow Jesus (Romans 6:4).

  • Baptism should be done in the context of a local church. Baptism is a church ordinance. At Brainerd baptism is a prerequisite to becoming a member of our church and to participating in the Lord’s Supper. With the possible exception of the apostles in the New Testament,  baptism was an ordinance administered within the context of a local church or in missionary contexts with the purpose of establishing local churches. 

Frequently asked Questions:

  • Why is baptism important?

Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:16). He was baptized as an act of obedience to God the Father. Jesus’ baptism symbolized His willingness to take on the death that we deserved.  So, even before we indicate our willingness to identify with Christ in our baptism, He already indicated His willingness to identify with us in His baptism. Jesus also commanded His followers to baptize others (Matthew 28:18-20). The early church made baptism a priority (see all references in Acts).  

  • If baptism doesn’t save me, why should I be baptized?

Baptism is an act of obedience that represents the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior. Baptism is symbolic of the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his/her faith in the final resurrection (Matthew 28:18-20). We have no record in the New Testament of believers resisting or neglecting the opportunity to be baptized.

Baptism is a public testimony or declaration that one has put his/her faith in Christ and given his/her allegiance to Him as King. It is a visual presentation of the work of the gospel in someone’s life for those watching the baptism.  

  • How long should I wait to be baptized? 

You should be baptized as soon as possible after you have believed and trusted in Jesus. It is clear that Jesus told His disciples to baptize others who commit their lives to Him (Matthew 28:19). Baptism immediately after salvation aligns with how baptism was practiced in the New Testament and the early Church (Acts 8:34-39, 10:44-48, 16:30-34, 16:44-48, 18:8, 19:1-5, 22:12-16). Have you confessed, believed, and trusted in Jesus? Then there is no reason to wait.

  • Should I be baptized again if I was baptized as an infant?  

As mentioned above, infant baptism reflects the best loving intentions of a family; however, the child is not old enough to have any decision, confession, or trust in the matter. In Scripture, baptism came after someone had consciously and purposefully made a personal decision to accept and trust Jesus as Savior and Lord (Acts 2:40-41, 8:12). Baptism is a commitment of your will to follow Jesus, not the will of someone else.  

  • What if I was baptized by immersion prior to the time when I truly put my faith in Christ? 

In some ways this answer is similar to infant baptism. The Bible teaches that baptism should follow, not precede, putting our faith in Jesus and His Lordship in our lives. We encourage you to be baptized after you make a decision to follow Christ.  

Baptisms at Brainerd:

  • Baptisms take place on the fourth Sunday of every month in each venue on the Chattanooga campus.  

  • Baptism is required for membership at Brainerd, but you do not have to become a member to be baptized. 

  • An interview prior to baptism is required.

  • If you have other questions or need more specific details, please email us at

Discipleship Spotlight: Birth of a New Life Group

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Guest Post by Kauri Tallent

I have been a part of the Burns Life Group for four years. We originally met on Saturday evenings, when there was a Saturday evening service. The leaders, Jeff and Sherri, are incredibly vulnerable and through their vulnerability, encouraged us to apply The Word to our lives. After service and Life Group, we would head to a restaurant to fellowship over food. Soon after I joined the group, Jeff Burns encouraged the group to get involved with serving and building relationships with refugees in the community. Not only was the group involved with service outside of the walls of the church, we served one another. When I moved, a dozen men from the class showed up to help. Our group became my family. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 describes how I felt about this group: "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."

When the Saturday night service was no longer available, the Burns Life Group moved to Sunday mornings. It grew exponentially, to an average of 40-60 a week. We had discussed multiplying, due to it being difficult to form close relationships in a larger group, but no one desired a split. Through a season of God prodding my heart, a friend and I decided to take a leap of faith to begin a small group hosted in our home. I was anxious about "failure" and the group not growing, but after sitting down with Paul Christenson and Kevin Baggett, we were given some direction for growth/success and also assurance that they did not have expectations that we had to measure up to.

For the month of August, those interested in the group met at my house on Monday evenings to pray for the direction of the group. Sometimes we had 4 show up to pray and one week it was only me. When the group started the first Sunday of September, two of our core group members were out of town. I prepared and expected no one. I was in awe of God when three women showed in addition to me. This week, we met for the second time and had 5 participants. We have remained connected to my former Life Group of 4 years, doing a joint cookout this past weekend. The Burns Life Group has supported us throughout the process, and we plan on remaining connected for support, prayer and feedback.

Our new Life Group Mission Statement if: "To Love one another in The Body of Christ through vulnerability, accountability and edification for the equipping for and fulfilling of The Great Commission." Our plan is to meet weekly in my home on Sunday mornings (we do prayer, worship through music and follow Brainerd's Life Group guide), meet monthly to serve our refugee community and meet quarterly to do an outdoor activity where we can invite those who are far from Jesus.

Please pray for us as we continue to walk by faith; God is growing us as leaders through the process. Feel free to send women of any demographic our way for our meetings on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and consider replicating your Life Group in order to keep Life Groups at a size where attendees feel known and loved.

September Serve Spotlight


We have been highlighting various ministries and serving opportunities around Brainerd over the past couple of months. This month, we'd like to highlight the life groups who serve as Preschool Shepherds every week. Katy Elkins, our Kids Ministry Director, explains below what Preschool Shepherds do and how your Life Group can get involved. 

"On the Chattanooga Campus, we provide Worship Care for children 6 weeks-PK4 during every service. In addition to volunteers that serve weekly, we ask that adult Life Groups serve together in Worship Care 4 times each year. This is a great opportunity for Life Groups to serve together within our church, and assist in providing exceptional ministries to preschoolers and their parents. When Life Groups commit to serving together, we call them "Preschool Shepherds". Preschool Shepherds serve as helpers alongside the weekly volunteers once each quarter during one worship service. In this picture, there are weekly volunteers and two Preschool Shepherds from one of our Life Groups."

If your Life Group isn't serving as Preschool Shepherds yet, please contact our Preschool Coordinator, Sarah Buckler so your group can join in on the preschool fun!

Deployed @ Brainerd Spotlight


As you’ve noticed in this month’s Brainerd News, we’re highlighting several different areas where Brainerd members are completing our mission of helping those far from God become fully committed followers of Christ. In previous weeks we’ve highlighted members serving and discipling at Brainerd. This week we would like to highlight an opportunity for you to deploy from the Scenic City to the world without leaving Chattanooga. Here's a note from Josiah King, our Associate Missions Pastor:

Would you like to step into another culture, living on mission, right here in Chattanooga? International Community Connection (ICC) is an opportunity for us to serve the international community within the Chattanooga area. We offer free English, GED, Citizenship, and Driver’s Ed classes, as well as, a children’s program, snacks, and transportation to and from class. During this time others visit international friends in their homes. Our goal is to give our neighbors community and build relationships in order to share the Gospel. We are in need of teachers, classroom assistants, children's program volunteers and drivers to pick-up and drop-off students. Please visit or contact Josiah King, for more information about this opportunity to serve the nations.

If you are interested in learning more about deploy opportunities in the Scenic City and around the world, or if you’re a part of a local ministry in Chattanooga you’d like for us to know more about please email

Discipleship Spotlight

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Once a month, we will begin highlighting discipleship relationships in our church. We want to celebrate how members of our church body are helping others to become more committed followers of Christ from the Scenic City to the world. This week, we are highlighting Liz Hathaway.

"The Lord has blessed me with godly women, including my beautiful, wiser sister, Misty Thomas, whom God has used to shape me into the still work-in-progress woman I am today. The Lord opened my eyes to precious Madison Bergren when she tripped on the UTC volleyball court and popped up laughing, Miss Congeniality style. 1stCorinthians 3:6 is a special verse for us as one of our favorite pastimes during her volleyball career was tag-teaming for Jesus, a little shake and bake for the Kingdom. We were not shy in trying to live as disciple-making disciples. Through prayer for her teammates and intentionally serving as a vessel for God’s light and love, Mads planted and watered seeds in her teammates; God in His great love, allowed me to join in His work and water those seeds as well. The Lord alone brought the growth in the hearts of sweet Bri Anderson and Dani Szczepanski and when Mads left the UTC volleyball team, Jesus did not, her primary prayer during her volleyball career. Our last meeting before Mads followed God’s call to China included Bri and Dani praying over their older sister - what a beautiful Kingdom moment. The Lord blessed me with sweet Mads, a sister to walk with, learn with, and challenge me to seek after God harder – I praise our Heavenly Father for allowing me to walk alongside His precious daughter."

- Liz Hathaway

If you are looking to explore what a discipleship relationship might look like or you’re willing to disciple someone else, please let us know by emailing

August Serve Spotlight


Last month, we began to highlight Life Groups who are serving our church family, community, and the world as we seek to help those who are far from God become committed followers of Christ. This month, we would like to highlight the Burns Life Group as they have helped serve our set-up team on a bi-weekly basis. Our set-up team comes every Saturday from Noon - 1:30 to set out chairs and all of the audio, video, and lighting equipment in the BX Venue.

"The Burns' life group has consistently been willing to serve when needed. With their help, setup for the BX service is quick and structured. Thank you Burns' life group for always having joy in your service to Brainerd." - Matthew Kitsmiller, AVL Production Associate (Set-Up Leader) 

If you’re interested in opportunities to serve, here are some upcoming ways for you and your Life Group to get involved: Preschool Shepherds - These are adult Life Groups that serve together quarterly in the preschool area of Kids Ministry alongside the regular classroom volunteers.Contact Paul at for more info or text "bbserve" to 97000 for other serving opportunities.

July Serve Spotlight


Beginning this month, we’d like to highlight Life Groups who are serving our church family, community, and the world as we seek to help those who are far from God become committed followers of Christ. This month we would like to highlight the Meade/Evans Life Group as they have served a ministry called World Changers. World Changers happens in Chattanooga annually. The students who come share Christ as they meet felt needs in the area. We’re thankful to the Meade/Evans Life Group for their example in service to our church and community!

If you’re interested in opportunities to serve, here are some upcoming ways for you and your Life Group to get involved!