These days, given my rapid approach to geezer status, new experiences are tough to come by. I never thought the phrase “been there, done that” would be one that I would frequent, because I’m always up for an adventure, but fewer and fewer things surprise me lately.

With that in mind, I experienced two new things a couple of weeks ago.

I was invited to officiate a wedding for a couple in our church. Weddings always make me a little misty, but this is one wedding ceremony I’ll never forget!

During our pre-marital counseling sessions, I discovered that Rob and Stephanie weren’t just in love with each other; they are in love with Jesus, too. They are so in love with Jesus that they wanted the message of salvation to be included in the wedding ceremony (that’s pretty rare). They are so in love with Jesus that they wanted to have baptism as part of their wedding ceremony (I’ve never heard of such a thing before!).

My first new experience a few weeks ago was a baptism during a wedding ceremony. Very cool, indeed. The other new experience still has me rejoicing at the goodness of God.

Quick backstory: Rob had recently given his life to Jesus and wanted to be baptized. Stephanie’s daughter had recently given her life to Jesus and wanted to be baptized too. Stephanie asked if she could be re-baptized with her husband-to-be as a way of declaring her devotion to Christ. My answer: yes! Why not make the baptisms part of the ceremony? Why not, indeed?! Sounds like a great way to begin a marriage – let’s demonstrate to all the wedding guests that Jesus has transformed three lives.

But it didn’t stop there…

It turns out that the transformation God worked in Rob’s and Stephanie’s lives was so compelling that their families noticed a difference. Not only did they notice a difference, God used their changed lives to draw members of their family to faith in Jesus. Recognizing an open door the gospel, Rob and Stephanie boldly shared the good news of Jesus Christ.

I showed up to the wedding site ready to baptize three people in the Atlantic Ocean. I had no idea how God was using Rob and Stephanie to lead their families to Jesus!

My second new experience: I wound up baptizing eight people on a Sunday afternoon! At a wedding, mind you. How amazing is that?

Though I had never experienced the almost immediate ripple effects of salvation on a family, I read about it one time. Rob and Stephanie’s wedding ceremony reminded me of a story from the book of Acts.

Paul and Silas were traveling around the Mediterranean, sharing the message of salvation through Jesus. One particular day, they found themselves in jail for causing a bit of a ruckus in town.

Take a moment to read Acts 16:1-29 for the intro to the story. Go ahead… I’ll wait.

Done? Good.

So the jailer, fresh from his almost life-ending freak out, recognized that Paul and Silas knew something (or had something) he desperately needed. Let’s pick up the story in verse 30…

Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. Acts 16:30-34 NLT (emphases added)

God has placed you in your family for a purpose and there’s a reason you’re in relationship with friends. There are no coincidences in God’s world! Why not leverage the trust that exists in your relationships to share Jesus with the people you love? After all, arranging an introduction to the Savior is the most loving thing you can do for anyone!

To learn more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus and how to talk with your family and friends about the most important decision they’ll ever make, read this article at


What I need to remember:

  • Elder nomination. Each year, partners (members) at The Church @ Clayton Crossings nominate men to serve as elders of the church. Elders provide spiritual oversight and direction for the church. This is an important position for our church, and we’re asking partners to consider the qualifications outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-11 and Titus 1:5-9 before nominating someone for consideration. You can complete the process by filling out an elder nomination form (they will be located in the back of the church on Sunday morning) or visiting ly/Elder2017. The deadline for new nominations is October 30, 2016 at 4:00 PM.
  • Tailgate Sunday. Immediately following the second service on Sunday, October 30, we’ll grill out hot dogs and party in the parking lot. Wear your favorite team jersey to church on Sunday, bring your trusty lawn chair and your favorite tailgate grub. We’ll have games and candy for your kids, too!


What I’m reading:
The Seven Seasons of a Man’s Life by Patrick M. Morley – thanks to John Woodall for the recommendation!

About me:
John Sanders is the non-stuffy pastor at The Church at Clayton Crossings. His primary mission is to lead people to find and follow Jesus. Additionally, he longs to write like the child of Aaron Sorkin and Dave Barry, preach like W.A. Criswell, look like Bradley Cooper, and eat like he’s seventeen years old. A more complete (and less snarky) bio can be found here.

Let’s be friends: