The other week was Fall Riot at Second.  It’s kind of a kick off for the fall programs at the church for middle and high schoolers.  It’s the main time when the church really encourages the kids to invite their friends to come with them to church.  It’s not the only time.  After all, we are always supposed to be ready to tell others about Christ 11 Peter 3:14-15, New Living Translation.  Biblegateway.com and welcoming them to be part of our church family.  But in in the weeks leading up, the primary focus is “invite your friends”

What is Fall Riot?

Every week, the junior and senior high students have a “Live” service on Wednesdays.  The adults are kicked out of the main worship center (we get stuck in the gym 🙂 ) and the service, music, and message is all for them.

Fall Riot is an amped up version of that, and like I said, there is a heavy focus on inviting their friends.  In the beginning, there is food and games outside the church.  Once the service starts, there are performances by local schools, music, a message and words from student leaders at Second that are members of the different schools.

One of the things that I thought was very cool is that they bring the different schools together.  Even though there are some school rivalries, they encourage everyone to support each other.

fall riot - avery

Avery and her friends ready for Fall Riot

 

Power Prayer and Fall Riot

This year, two of my girls went.  It’s always on a Wednesday night and literally everything at the church shuts down for Fall Riot; no Awanas, no family night dinner, no Bible studies.  They did have choir practice, but other than that, the focus is on Fall Riot and they encourage the adults to volunteer.

Since my youngest daughter wasn’t going to a class, I was expecting that we would just be hanging out at home until it was time to pick up the girls.  But at about 3:30 pm, I checked my email and there was an update from Pastor Quanidos’s assistant that the Power Prayer class would be that held that night and that “had a special opportunity” to participate in Fall Riot.

That was it.

I picked up everyone we were taking and went to find out what the plan was.  I had Peyton with me and at that point I really didn’t have time to find someone to watch her.  Pastor Q  just said “bring her.”  So I did.

We had a very brief class and then Pastor Q told us that those who wanted to stay would be the prayer team.  There were tons of adults volunteering in different areas, the game area, food, those who would counsel people that made a decision for Christ, etc.  What we were going to be doing was intercessory prayer as the service was going on, and then after the pastor had given the invitation for those who wanted to accept Christ, we would go up and pray for those people who had an individual prayer need.

The coolest thing about this was how he told us to pray for them.  He said if they had a problem with drinking, to pray against the spirit of addiction.  If they were depressed, to pray against the spirit of heaviness, rejection, etc.  He told us to be specific.

In the past year, everything I’ve been reading has been on spiritual warfare and deliverance.  When I volunteer at the Healing Room, we pray specifically for healing, sometimes we pray against an afflicting spirit if it is very obvious that is what the issue is.

But to have a pastor in my church give specific instructions to pray that way, I was thinking, “Awesome!”

This is a brief overview of what it was like

In the end, we didn’t go up and pray for people.  The youth pastor that arranged this with Pastor Q was the one that went with those who accepted Christ and there was a miscommunication with the other pastors that led the second half.  So the individual prayer for people didn’t happen.

We were still praying while the service was going on though.

I sat over to the very far side and as the program progressed, I noticed a group of boys that were not paying attention at all to the message.  They were on their phones, talking to each other, and distracting the people in front of them.

I started praying that the Holy Spirit would speak to them, that all distracting spirits would be bound, and that he would convict their hearts.  When Jason Mick gave the invitation to accept Christ, all 8 of them went up.

In total, 82 people accepted Christ that night.  An additional 62 came forward to rededicate and recommit themselves to Christ, and 36 people were baptized.

Community and Fall Riot

As I mentioned, this is one of the main outreaches of the youth ministry for the year.   Every year, because of the very public and widespread promotion of it . . . primarily through kids inviting their friends . . . it seems to generate an uproar in the community.

Why and by whom?

There are two main things.  First, there are people who are offended that there is a message and an invitation to accept Christ at the event.    Because there are the games, performances, music, etc, there are some that say it is “misleading” about the purpose and it should just be a “community” event.  That if you mix fun and church, you’re being deceptive somehow.

. . . ? ? ? . . .

Yeah.

Just to be clear.  Yes, there are people, mostly in other Christian churches, who think it is out of line for a church to give a gospel message in one of their events.  A very bizarre mindset I know.

It is a “community” event.  It is the community of Christ.  

I don’t think being a Christian means that you have to become a Sour Sam.  One of the fruits of the spirit is joy 2Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version. Biblegateway.com , and I think that when God sees us enjoying the life he has given us in the world he created for us with fellow believers he has brought together . . . I think that gives him joy.

Don’t you enjoy it when people appreciate the gifts you give them?  I think he does too.

Also, I don’t agree with the mindset that we are only supposed to talk about Jesus in the church (and according to some, only at specific times in the church.)

Jesus’s last words to his disciples were “Go” not “Sit.”

He said to go and preach the gospel to all nations.  We are to be his witnesses 3Acts 1:7, New International Version. Biblegateway.com 4Matthew 28:16-20.  New International Version. Biblegateway.com 5Mark 16:15-18.  New International Version.  Biblegateway.com 6Luke 24:44-53.  New International Version.  Biblegateway.com

This directive is for all believers.  Everyone who believes in and has accepted Christ as their Savior.  It’s not just for pastors or missionaries.  We are to be ready “in season and out of season72 Timonthy 4:2. New American Standard Bible.  Biblegateway.com  The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates it this way:

Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.  ~ 2 Timothy 4:2 HCSB

I just happened across videos by a guy and his wife in New Jersey who are healing evangelists.  They just go around praying for people and they get healed, delivered and saved.  This is at Walmart, in parks, in shopping centers, wherever God leads them.  They even witness to people at fast food places.  This is a video at a Hot Wings restaurant.

 

We all need to be ready . . . even when we’re getting take out at a fast food restaurant.

Baptism and Fall Riot

The other big stink people raise about Fall Riot is baptisms.  Again, the biggest uproar is not by atheists, their opinion is, “Whatever, they just got wet.”  It is by Catholics.

In the last four years, I’ve read comments on local forums and the same things always come up.

When I used to participate in those discussions, my position was always this.  Accepting Christ is not something you come to because of a certain amount of religious classes that you take.

You have to be convicted by the Holy Spirit that you are a sinner and accept Christ as your Savior to redeem you from your sins. 8John 16:8.  New Living Translation. Biblegateway.com

Salvation is a personal decision.  It is not something that your parents can decide for you and it doesn’t matter what church you are a member of.   Baptism is secondary.  It is not a condition of salvation, but it is the first sign that we are walking in obedience to God because that is what Jesus instructs us to do.  Dr. Young calls it, “Raising your flag for Jesus.”  It is a public profession of a private decision.

But as I personally hadn’t witnessed the actual Fall Riot program, I didn’t have an answer for some of the other criticisms I heard.  Now that I’ve been part of it I can.

Accusation:  The kids come forward just because of peer pressure

I mentioned above that 164 people came forward and 84 of those were first time decisions for Christ.  That was out of almost 1,500 people, 1,466 to be exact.  The people that came forward were in the minority, not the majority.  They weren’t going along with the crowd.

Besides that, the people that come forward kind of miss out on part of the program.  Not a lot, but after the message, there is music going on and they miss that.

Accusation: The kids just come forward for prizes.

So someone actually posted on a message board that a friend’s daughter had said that they just came forward because they were getting prizes.

This is a flat out and absolute lie.

They do have drawings at the end, and at the end things were passed out.  However, this is about 30 minutes after the message and the invitation.  The two are not connected at all.

That someone would even say that tells me that the parents were probably riled up and trash talking the event and the girl said that to deflect participating in it.

Accusation:  The kids are baptized without the parents permission

Since this is a baptist church, they have pretty much an open door policy on baptism.  If you’ve made your confession of faith and you want to be baptized, they are always ready to baptize you.  When they have special services, such as this one, they will make a specific invitation to be baptized.

At Fall Riot anyone under 13, so sixth and some seventh graders, they will not baptize them without the parents there.   But anyone who wants to be baptized, they have call their parents.

This is after Fall Riot, but it is not part of the main program.  In previous years, my daughter has called telling me to wait to pick her up because she wants to see her friends baptized.  This year, it must have been closer to 9:00 pm, an hour later, because I walked into the sanctuary at 8:40 and they hadn’t even started preparing for the baptism service yet.

So it is not a “Hey, let’s all go run and jump in the water” in the middle of an event in a crowd of people.

Accusation: Baptizing someone right away is not taking it seriously.

All I have to say to this is, go read the Bible.

Acts 8:  Philip meets the Ethiopian eunuch on the road and tells him about Christ.  The eunuch says, “What is keeping me from being baptized right now?”  Philip did not tell him no.  He did not tell him he had to go to Jerusalem and study for a couple of years until he could take it seriously.  They stopped the chariot, got out and Philip baptized him right there.  It was literally a “dunk and dash.”

Acts 16:  Lydia heard Paul preaching on the riverbank, believed and accepted Christ, and was baptized along with all her household right then.

Later in the same chapter, Paul is beaten and thrown in prison for his exorcism of the slave girl when he is supernaturally freed.  The jailer believes in Christ and he and is family is baptized immediately, some translations say within the hour.

Acts 22  After Paul had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was brought to Ananias.  As soon as Ananias prayed and Paul’s sight was restored, Paul was told “Why do you wait?  Repent and be baptized.”

Acts 2:  Peter preached to the crowd after receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  Three thousand people believed and were baptized . . . right then.

The Deal About Baptism

It seems from reading the argument from Catholics is that the crux of the issue for them is that since their children are baptized as infants, they think they are saved.  And so the whole concept of making a personal decision for Christ followed by believer’s baptism is almost an insult to them . . . something that threatens their faith.

This is puzzling to me.  I’ve read the Catholic statement of faith on salvation.  Their view of sanctification is sometimes a little different than Protestant churches, but when it comes to salvation, I don’t see that there is any difference.  This is a quote from a joint declaration with the Lutheran church:

On salvation, being justified before God:

12.The justified live by faith that comes from the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17) and is active through love (Gal 5:6), the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22f). But since the justified are assailed from within and without by powers and desires (Rom 8:35-39; Gal 5:16-21) and fall into sin (1 Jn 1:8,10), they must constantly hear God’s promises anew, confess their sins (1 Jn 1:9), participate in Christ’s body and blood, and be exhorted to live righteously in accord with the will of God. That is why the Apostle says to the justified: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12f). But the good news remains: “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom8:1), and in whom Christ lives (Gal 2:20). Christ’s “act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all” (Rom 5:18).

. . .

15.In faith we together hold the conviction that justification is the work of the triune God. The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners. The foundation and presupposition of justification is the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. Justification thus means that Christ himself is our righteousness, in which we share through the Holy Spirit in accord with the will of the Father. Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works. 9Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.  The Vatican. Accessed 6 Oct 2013.

There is a lot more and it lists areas where they disagree, but notice the point of agreement, that it is by grace alone in faith in Christ that we are saved.  It doesn’t say water baptism as an infant, it says by faith in Christ.

A baby is not capable of making a decision for Christ.  They have no understanding of right or wrong.

Even the theologians of the early Catholic church stated that baptism was by immersion . . .

The word Baptism is derived from the Greek word, bapto, or baptizo, to wash or to immerse. It signifies, therefore, that washing is of the essential idea of the sacrament…The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion. This is not only evident from the writings of the Fathers and the early rituals of both the Latin and Oriental Churches, but it can also be gathered from the Epistles of St. Paul, who speaks of baptism as a bath (Ephesians 5:26; Romans 6:4; Titus 3:5). In the Latin Church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as the sixteenth century. Infusion and aspersion, however, were growing common in the thirteenth century and gradually prevailed in the Western Church. The Oriental Churches have retained immersion 10Fanning, William H.W. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J. Baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York

 

This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out (Greek baptize in) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.” 11Ratzinger, Cardinal Jospeh. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 342

. . . and should be done when an individual could answer for themselves.

But they whose office it is, know that baptism is not rashly to be administered…God’s approbation sends sure premonitory tokens before it; every ” petition ” may both deceive and be deceived. And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children…The Lord does indeed say, “Forbid them not to come unto me.” Let them “come,” then, while they are growing up; let them “come” while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the “remission of sins?…If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay: sound faith is secure of salvation 12Tertullian. On Baptism, Chapter 18. Translated by S. Thelwall

 

Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for Baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children, and conscious neither of the loss nor of the grace? Are we to baptize them too? Certainly, if any danger presses…But in respect of others I give my advice to wait till the end of the third year, or a little more or less, when they may be able to listen and to answer something about the Sacrament; that, even though they do not perfectly understand it, yet at any rate they may know the outlines; and then to sanctify them in soul and body with the great sacrament of our consecration 13Oration 40: The Oration on Holy Baptism, Chapter XXVIII. Preached at Constantinople Jan. 6, 381

So infant baptism to ensure salvation has not always been the “tradition” or teaching of the Catholic church and it has never been Scriptural.

So what’s the drama?

I don’t know really other than I think it makes people question what God really says about salvation.

 

Final Thoughts

I think one of the things I will remember most about my experience volunteering at Fall Riot was at the very end the sight of my daughter and her friends consoling one of their friends who was crying because her mother wouldn’t let her be baptized.

“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. 6 But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. ~ Matthew 18:5 NLT

 

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. ~ Revelation 2:1-4 ESV

 

14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! ~ 1 Peter 3:14-15  NLT

References   [ + ]

1. 1 Peter 3:14-15, New Living Translation.  Biblegateway.com
2. Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version. Biblegateway.com
3. Acts 1:7, New International Version. Biblegateway.com
4. Matthew 28:16-20.  New International Version. Biblegateway.com
5. Mark 16:15-18.  New International Version.  Biblegateway.com
6. Luke 24:44-53.  New International Version.  Biblegateway.com
7. 2 Timonthy 4:2. New American Standard Bible.  Biblegateway.com
8. John 16:8.  New Living Translation. Biblegateway.com
9. Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.  The Vatican. Accessed 6 Oct 2013.
10. Fanning, William H.W. Transcribed by Charles Sweeney, S.J. Baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York
11. Ratzinger, Cardinal Jospeh. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 342
12. Tertullian. On Baptism, Chapter 18. Translated by S. Thelwall
13. Oration 40: The Oration on Holy Baptism, Chapter XXVIII. Preached at Constantinople Jan. 6, 381