9 Unique Baptism Options for New Churches

By Clint Clifton

The joy of a lost soul coming to Christ often is followed by a challenge: finding a way to baptize them. Here’s a list of 10 unique baptism options, all inspired by planters.

Church planters are always sharing the gospel with others and from time to time, those we witness to repent and give their lives to over to Jesus Christ. When they do, we have another challenge on our hands: finding a body of water to baptize them in!

Here’s a list of 10 unique baptism options, all inspired by planters I’ve worked with that I hope will inspire you next time you have a baptism to schedule.

1. Public fountain – There’s no lack of fountains in America’s great cities, be it Buckingham Fountain in Chicago’s Grant Park or the iconic Reflecting Pool at the base of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Understandably, all of America’s great fountains prohibit swimming but that has not stopped Christians from holding baptisms in fountain waters. Make sure to check your local laws before choosing this option.

2. Public gym/spa – Gyms, spas and aquatic centers often have plenty of water. Though you’re not likely to get a sign off from management to conduct a public baptism service that hasn’t stopped excited groups of believers from showing up at a coordinated time and baptizing new converts.

3. Animal trough – A very simple and common solution for new churches in animal troughs like this one that can be purchased from your local feed and seed supplier. These units are virtually indestructible, easy to transport and relatively lightweight.

4. Home bathtub – You’d be surprised at the number of churches, particularly in dense urban settings that use bathtubs in private homes for baptism. Icelandic Church planter Gunnar Ingi Gunnarsson reflects on the first baptism service for Loftstofan Baptistakirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland:

Out of all the messes made in various bathing experiences with the kids, the biggest splash came from baptisms, but it also was the most joyful mess to clean up. Our tiny bathroom had three adults in there, two soaking wet, spilling water all over our floors, looking back at an open door with about 10 others looking in. It was far from ideal, but it was real – and it was exciting. I’ve never been as joyful cleaning up spilled water all over my bathroom floor and the trail of water leading to various places in our apartment!

5. Home or hotel pool/hot tub – Pool parties are great locations for baptism because they often can be rented privately and give the opportunity for a full-scale celebration, rather than a quick “swoop in” baptism. Some hotels will often allow you to use the pool for baptism simply by reserving and paying for a room for the night. The bonus is a one-night getaway for you and your spouse!

6. Portable baptistry – Believe it or not there is an actual company called Portable Baptistry that sells, you guessed it, portable baptistries. These tubs break down and can fit right in your trailer or storage space.

7. Portable tub – You can find portable and inflatable tubs like this one or this one easily at big box stores or with online retailers. These products are great if you are setting up in a tight space such as a movie theater, library, classroom or community center because they can break down easily and fit through a normal size door.

8. Lake/river/beach – Baptize the same way the Apostle John did – in the river! Many churches still use beaches, lakes and rivers to hold baptisms. Pastor Jamie Limato shares fond memories of baptizing in open water:

I remember planting in a collegiate context and meeting on campus. This presented challenges for us. We were willing to baptize just about anywhere. One of the most memorable experiences was baptizing at the oceanfront in Virginia Beach. We did our best to not all get baptized as the waves crashed in. Being in this setting provided us an opportunity to share with individuals who came to the beach that day not expecting to see people do that. 

9. Another church – Don’t hesitate to call another local church and ask them to support you by allowing you to use their baptistry. You might even want to consider holding a joint service with them. The celebration of new life is a great way to emphasize a kingdom posture toward other congregations.

Published November 28, 2022

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Clint Clifton

Clint Clifton is the founding pastor of Pillar, a multiplying church in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and the senior director of resource and research strategy at the North American Mission Board. He is the author of several books and periodicals on the subject of church planting, including Church Planting Thresholds: A Gospel Centered Church Planting Guide and Church Planting Primer and is the host of the Church Planting podcast.