Jesus commands that all his followers should be baptized.  Therefore, baptism is an act of obedience for all members of the family of God!  We believe that baptism is an act of obedience and evangelism.  Christian baptism has a proper order to it.  When a person becomes a Christian, one of the first acts of evangelical obedience is to tell that story through baptism.  So it's becoming a Christian first, then being baptized. This is what is usually called "believer's baptism".

The act of baptism itself is not a saving act of grace or forgiveness.  The act is a portrayal of the salvation that Jesus has applied to the life of the Christian.  The water actually symbolizes dirt, as the entire act is symbolic of a burial and resurrection.

The duration of time between the act of becoming a Christian and getting baptized is entirely personal.  However, we encourage new Christians to follow through with baptism soon.