“…and make disciples of all the nations….” (Matthew 28:18-20)
From where I sat as pastor, the deacon appeared to be brow-beating people into praying the sinner’s prayer with him, then accompanying him to church the following Sunday to make public this “commitment” and be baptized. The whipped look on their faces told all one would ever need to know.
So, one Sunday I asked his most recent trophy, a sad-looking lady, “Do you really want to do this? You know, you don’t have to be baptized if you don’t want to.” She said quietly that this was her choice. So, we baptized her and never saw her again.
In time, we changed the way we received church members to make certain we were not simply baptizing someone’s converts but were actually making disciples of the Lord Jesus.
Jesus did not send us to make converts or church members. He did not command anyone to make decisions or pray a nice little prayer. He did not commission us to talk people into walking an aisle or undergoing baptism or getting religious.