Before a convert is baptized into the Mormon church, they have a meeting with a Mormon missionary who talks with them about any questions they have and helps them to understand the purpose of being baptized.
For believers of the Mormon faith, baptism is an important step toward becoming a follower of Christ. Baptism is not something to be taken lightly, but something which all people are welcomed to do.
The Questions Before Baptism
The following are the exact questions that missionaries ask would-be converts at a baptismal interview. Missionaries meet with the convert many times before this meeting to help them to understand each of these points.
“Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?”
“Do you believe the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? Do you believe that [current Church President] is a prophet of God? What does this mean to you?”
“What does it mean to you to repent? Do you feel that you have repented of your past transgressions?”
“Have you ever committed a serious crime? If so, are you now on probation or parole? Have you ever participated in an abortion? a homosexual relationship?”
“You have been taught that membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes living gospel standards. What do you understand of the following standards? Are you willing to obey them?”
- The law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a legal marriage between a man and a woman.
- The law of tithing.
- The Word of Wisdom.
- The Sabbath day, including partaking of the sacrament weekly and rendering service to fellow members.
“When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?”
Source: These questions are the official questions used by the church in its Preach My Gospel manual.
Why Is There an Interview Before Baptism?
The baptismal interview is simply a way to help the convert to feel comfortable with the baptism and to give them a chance to show the steps they have taken to repent. Repentance means thinking of misdeeds or mistakes a person has made in life, and presenting them to Heavenly Father in prayer and asking for forgiveness, coupled with a promise to become better. Even after baptism, all people will sin. Baptism is a promise to enter on the path leading to a Christ-like life, but a continued life-long effort is still required.
Baptism is an ordinance in which the converts promises God that she or he will keep the commandments and will follow God as a Christian throughout her or his life.
I conducted many of these baptismal interviews when I was a missionary. It’s a really beautiful experience to see people who want to follow Christ and who have prayed to God for forgiveness of any bad things they have done in their past. People who want to follow Christ. In exchange for that promise, God gives them a perfectly clean slate.
I remember one time I met with a woman who, several months earlier, had prayed to find a man to marry. She prayed consistently for weeks without any divine response. She woke up one morning with a distinct impression through the Holy Ghost to go to a particular barber shop, where she would meet the man who would eventually be her husband.
She obeyed, and met a Mormon man–who happened to work at a barber shop. Over time, he eventually introduced her to the missionaries, and she felt that what they taught was true. She began attending church in preparation for her baptism. She also started dating the barber 🙂
The night before her baptism, a relative of hers who did not understand the church warned her that she should not get baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). This relative had heard negative things about the church and repeated them to this woman. She was filled with doubt and worry and wasn’t sure if she was making a correct choice.
I came to meet her as a missionary and in the interview, I asked her how she was feeling about being baptized. It gave her the chance to tell me about how she felt that what the missionaries said was true, but that she worried about some things too. It was so good that we were able to talk. As it turned out, her relative had some misconceptions about the church and had told her things that we don’t even believe. It was patently false, and she just needed some clarification.
She also felt a little underprepared for her baptism. As a representative of Christ and having the authority of the Priesthood, I could pray to Heavenly Father and feel through the Holy Ghost that she had indeed asked for forgiveness of her sins and wanted to follow Christ. I told her that I felt she was ready to be baptized, and that confirmation helped her to have the confidence that she could do it.
Her baptism was beautiful. I could feel something within me telling me when she was baptized that she truly was made pure. The baptismal interview was a positive experience that allowed her to ask questions of a missionary before her baptism. Oh, and yes, she did eventually marry the barber 🙂
The interview is NOT a test with trick questions. Many times in baptismal interviews people would forget things. For example, I’d ask if someone believed that we have a living prophet to day, and they would forget the prophet’s name. No one expects you to remember details. That’s okay. This is a test of your heart, not a test of your knowledge.
How Do You Know If You Are Ready to Be Baptized?
Most people feel some amount of apprehension about choosing to be baptized. Deep down, most of us have feelings of doubt–not being certain that you are good enough. Others worry if they will be able to obey the commandments they are being taught by the missionaries.
Jesus taught someone who felt the same way.
After Jesus had spent years teaching and helping His twelve disciples, he had a last supper with them and then said, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me…Wither I go, ye cannot come…” Christ had to go away. He was to be killed on the cross the very next day.
The disciples were panicked. Christ was right there with them through every scary trial they had been through. They were worried about what would happen after they committed to following Christ, but had to go it alone.
Christ told the disciples that if they loved him, they should keep his commandments. Then he told them that he would give the disciples the Holy Ghost, whose influence could stay with them always and comfort them through the hard or scary times.
Christ’s disciples were ready to live the Christian life as soon as they loved God enough to keep his commandments. If you love Christ, baptism is the way you START down the path. You don’t have to feel confident. You don’t have to be the “perfect” person that you imagine when you see others at church who seem so organized and good. If you love Christ enough to keep His commandments, you’ll be ready.
But you won’t have to “go it alone.” You’ll feel the reassurance that comes from the gift of the Holy Ghost if you work at it over time. You’ll also have the members of the church in your local congregation, your new bishop, and the missionaries right at your side. Especially during your first year as a member of the church, you’ll see that people go well out of their way to do anything they can to help you.
That’s how the church works. It’s a place where we all meet together to try and become better. Today you’re starting down the path to love Christ more deeply. Soon enough, you’ll be on the other side of the fence as a member of the church reassuring someone else who is ready to start.
My membership in the Church has been the greatest blessing of my life. My family is so much happier having the gospel to guide us. When trials and tough times come in our lives, my wife always reminds me that it’s all just temporary and that all that will really matter in the long run is that we are becoming good people. Job losses, sicknesses, loneliness, addictions, and every other difficulty in life will all eventually come to an end as long as we believe in Christ and love Him enough to follow Him.
I just want to leave you with a verse of scripture that may help you in this time. Doctrine and Covenants 6:36 (it’s my kids’ favorite verse) “Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not; fear not.”
Also, if you need a little support, I might suggest reading this post about why I believe in Christ and in this church.