Tag Archive: church


Congregational Church Governance

downloadWhat Is Congregational Church Governance?

Polity is how an organization, such as a church, functions—the policies that guide matters such as governance, decision making, structure and leadership. Baptists differ from most Christian denominations in matters of polity. The difference especially is evident in how congregations of Christians are governed.

One major difference between Baptists and many other denominations is that no person or group outside of a Baptist congregation is to have any authority over the church in regard to beliefs and religious practices. Furthermore, all of the members within the church fellowship are to have equal voice in the governance of the church.

Baptist church governance often is termed “democratic.” In a sense it is. In a democracy, all of the people have equal voices in decision making. No individual or group of persons is in control. Such is to be the case in a Baptist church. One way that democratic governance is practiced is that each member of the church has the right to vote on matters at church business meetings.

To many non-Baptists, and even to some Baptists, this seems to be a strange way for a church to function. Putting the governance of a church in the hands of persons who have no special training, education or calling appears to be foolish. Why would Baptists dare to function in this fashion?

Read more….http://baptistdistinctives.org/articles/congregational-church-governance/

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“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person
—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Ephesians 5:5 (NIV)

 The ideal of a believers’ church consistently appears in Baptist confessions of faith. Baptist theologians, pastors and other leaders through the centuries have held up no other model than that of a born-again church fellowship. That’s the ideal. But is this the reality?

Is There Evidence of a Decline in Regenerate Church Membership?

The distinguished Baptist historian William R. Estep stated, “Baptists in the United States are perilously close to losing their insistence upon a regenerate church membership.”

Other observers of Baptist life agree with Estep and cite as evidence for this conclusion such factors as the huge number of non-resident Baptist church members and the characteristics of many resident members with their lack of involvement in church life, a low level of financial support, little commitment to evangelism, missions and ministry, and a life style obviously contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

Of course, some of these factors may be the result of conditions other than an unregenerate condition, such as being “backslidden” or perhaps immature as a Christian (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Ephesians 4:11-16). And certainly, numerous church members are wonderfully dedicated followers of Christ. Yet it would seem that these factors would not exist in such abundance if members of churches were truly born again.

Read more…http://baptistdistinctives.org/articles/regenerate-church-membership-in-peril/

images (2)How Do Baptist Churches Accept Members Into Their Fellowship?

Membership in a Baptist church is always to be voluntary. Therefore, persons request to be members. They are not compelled to be members. Baptist churches strive in several ways to maintain a born-again membership by how they admit persons to membership.

When a person who has never been a member of any church requests membership in a Baptist church, he or she is asked to give evidence of having trusted in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Furthermore, Baptist churches require that a person experience believer’s baptism before becoming a member. Therefore, a person seeking membership is asked both to make a profession of faith in Christ and to be baptized.

When a person who is already a member of a Baptist church seeks membership in another Baptist church, normally the person is accepted on the basis of that prior membership. At one time some Baptist churches issued actual “letters” indicating that a person was a member and the person took the “letter” when moving to another church. Today, the term “coming by letter” usually indicates that the church receiving the member will contact the other church about the transfer of membership. The term “coming by statement” normally means that the church of which the person was a member no longer exists or that for a variety of reasons the record could not be obtained.

But what if a person seeking membership in a Baptist church is a member of a church other than Baptist? Baptist churches, being autonomous, respond in various ways. The response depends both on the church background of the person seeking membership as well as on the policies of the church.

Generally speaking, if such a person has not been baptized by immersion as a believer in Christ, a Baptist church will require that he or she indicate faith in Christ and be baptized before becoming a member. If the person has been immersed as a believer, but that baptism was considered necessary for salvation, most Baptist churches will require the person to be baptized before becoming a member; this is done in order to make clear that baptism, while important, is not necessary for salvation.

If the person has been immersed as a believer and understands that it was a way to testify symbolically that he or she had been born again, some Baptist churches will accept such a person into membership. Other Baptist churches will ask the person to be baptized in a Baptist church.

Although a few Baptist churches may accept as members persons who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior whether or not they have been baptized by immersion as believers, most do not. The vast majority of Baptist churches take very seriously the importance of believer’s baptism by immersion.

Read more….http://baptistdistinctives.org/articles/regenerate-church-membership/

The Baptist Recipe

National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul Sav...

National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul Saving Assembly of the U.S.A. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are these key ingredients in the Baptist recipe? Some of them we have in common with Christians of most all denominations, such as belief in God and in Jesus Christ as Savior. However, Baptist beliefs about some major matters differ from those held by certain other groups. For example, although practically all Christian groups declare that baptism is significant for Christians, Baptists hold a different view of baptism than most. In the weeks to come, this series will discuss what that difference is and why it is important.

The Baptist recipe includes several key beliefs or doctrines:

–the Lordship of Jesus Christ

–the Bible as the sole written authority for faith and practice

–soul competency

–salvation from sin and eternal death to forgiveness and eternal life only by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior who is the grace gift of God

–the priesthood of each believer and of all believers in Christ

–believer’s baptism

–baptism and the Lord’s Supper as wonderfully symbolic but not essential for salvation

–church membership composed only of persons who have been born again

–religious freedom and its corollary, the separation of church and state

Built upon the foundation of these beliefs are certain practices or polities that are part of the Baptist recipe:

congregational church governance under the Lordship of Christ

–the autonomy of churches

–voluntary cooperation for various causes

Closely related to these beliefs and practices are a number of emphases that characterize most Baptists:

–evangelism

–missions

Christian education

–ministry

–social concern

In order to carry these out, Baptists have organized in various ways beyond local congregations, such as associations of churches, societies, conventions, fellowships, unions and alliances. Baptists have also established numerous institutions such as those for education, missions, and the care of children, the aged and the ill. The common ingredient in all of these is voluntary cooperation.

Baptists endeavor to base each belief, practice, emphasis and organization on the teachings of the Bible. The desire of Baptists is to be as close to the New Testament model for an individual Christian and for a church that is humanly possible with God’s help through the instruction and empowering of the Holy Spirit.

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