I am a youth teacher, and we, my students and I, always bump heads when it comes to being baptized. They say they are not ready, and that they don't want to regret it later on in life. I don't understand how they can regret it. And the worst part of it is that their parents are telling them that they are right. What can I do so that they can think differently about the whole subject on being baptized?
I, likewise, do not understand saying they might regret it in the future. Would they ask their parents not to forgive them for doing something wrong because they might regret it in the future? Would they ask to be punished for something now, so that they won’t regret their parents not punishing them later?
I would have to ask somebody who said that to me just what they think they will regret later. Do they think they will become atheists in the future? That’s OK; being baptized now won’t prevent them from leaving God later. Do they want to “sow their wild oats?” Then they are not ready to be baptized now, but need to know that there might not be a chance to ask for God’s forgiveness later.
I can understand someone saying they are not ready. It is a dangerous course to take, but an understandable one. If one expects to want to continue sinning and take a chance that is their choice. If one thinks he is not yet convinced that Jesus is the son of God, then he should wait until he is convinced. Otherwise it would be a lie to confess that belief. Not ready is understandable; regretting it in the future is incomprehensible.
The best thing you can say to deal with this situation is to remind them of the purpose of baptism. It is not to join the church; it is not to become a Christian. The purpose of baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16) is forgiveness of sins. It is to begin a new life (Romans 6). If they are not ready to be forgiven and to begin a new life, then they should not be baptized. If they are just not ready to commit to a specific congregation or church, that is a separate matter entirely from baptism.