Selsdon Baptist Church is a Registered Charity No. 1126971          Copyright Selsdon Baptist Church 2009 - 2016

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About Baptists

About Baptists

What is a BAPTIST Church?

When Jesus initiated the community of those who followed him, His prayer was that they might be one. For many reasons over the years the church has divided into different families, with the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church and the Protestants being the three major groupings today. In the UK, Protestants are made up of the Church of England family and the non-conformist family. The Baptist family is one part of the non-conformist branch of the church, having their origin in the mid-sixteenth century.

Where did BAPTISTS come from?

Baptists were given their name as a term of abuse because they believed that the Bible taught the baptism of those who were old enough to be real believers, and not the christening of infants. They also believed that the church should not be under the authority of the state, and for these things they were severely persecuted. Many of the first Baptists fled to Holland, where there was a greater degree of religious tolerance and the first real British Baptist Church was inaugurated there by Pastor John Smythe. Today Baptists can be found all over the world, with strong representation in America and in parts of the Russian Federation.

What are the main distinctives of a BAPTIST church today?

Baptists have a firm belief in conversion

In other words, they believe that becoming a Christian believer does not happen automatically to a person because of the country they live in or the beliefs of their family. A person has to make a conscious decision to trust Jesus Christ, to accept His forgiveness and love that He made available through His death on the cross, and to follow His way in the living out of our lives. This may happen at one unforgettable crisis point in life, or it may happen through a slow process involving lots of much smaller decisions.

Baptists practice Believer's baptism

It is our belief that the Bible teaches baptism as a way of making a public confession that a person is following and trusting in Jesus Christ. We therefore baptise those who know that they are real believers by their own choice.

Baptists also celebrate the birth of a child

Although we do not 'christen' babies, we do publicly thank God for a new baby and pray for God's help and guidance on them at the start of their lives. At such a service (often called a 'Dedication Service'), the parents also promise to fulfil their God-given role to the best of their ability with God's help, and the church promises to support them in that.

Baptist services are created for each occasion and not taken out of a book

Whereas some Christians like the predictability and form of a written service, Baptists enjoy more freedom in the structure of worship. There is therefore considerable variety and it is the responsibility of the leaders to let God guide them as they plan each service.

The Bible is very important for Baptists

Although the Bible is important for all Christians, it has a central place in Baptist understanding. Through the Bible we understand God's will for us and nothing is equal to, or more important than, God's word to us in the Bible.

Baptists think of the church as a community or family

The church is not a building, but it is the people who use the building for their Christian activities. Knowing and understanding each other is very important and we seek to be an inclusive, caring, loving family. Although we fall short always, this is what we aspire to.

Baptists believe that women can exercise ministry

There has been lots of talk in some parts of the church as to what a woman can and cannot do in the life of the church. For many years, women have exercised ministry alongside men in Baptist churches.

To belong to a Baptist church you need to become a 'member'

Not all churches operate a system of membership, but Baptists do. When a person is committed to the life and work of a local Baptist church, they become a member of that church. It is the members who have the responsibility for the finance, buildings, programme and the ministry of the church.

Decisions in a Baptist church are made by the members

The main decisions made in the life of a Baptist church are made when the members gather together in a bi-monthly 'Members' Meeting'. Here each member has an opportunity to contribute to the prayerful discussion on a topic and each member is given the responsibility of deciding what the will of God is in regard to the matter in question. Only when a substantial majority of the membership is agreed will a decision be made.

Baptists believe passionately in overseas mission

Baptists have a history of being involved in mission. William Carey was the founder of the Baptist Missionary Society and despite being told to 'sit down young man' by his contemporaries, he stirred the church into concern and action for those living in other countries. Today, Baptists are widely involved in all kinds of overseas mission.

Baptists believe that evangelism and social action belong together

One of the most famous Baptists is Billy Graham, whose enthusiasm for evangelism is known all over the world. At the same time, Baptists have also believed that as part of our mission we have the responsibility to show Christian love and care in practical and social action towards those in need and those who are on the margins of society. Martin Luther King was a famous Baptist who pioneered racial equality in America.

Baptists are independent, yet enjoy good relationships with others

A Baptist church is not subject to the authority of anyone outside, and makes its own decisions, as guided by God, about its life and activity. But this does not mean that we work in isolation from others. We are involved with other Baptist churches through the various layers of the Baptist Union, which is a resource centre for all Baptist churches. We are also related to the Baptist churches in Europe through the European Baptist Federation, and with other Baptist churches throughout the world through the Baptist World Alliance. In the UK, we relate to all other evangelical churches by being a member of the Evangelical Alliance, and at a local level we also belong to and work closely with Churches Together in Selsdon & Addington.

Baptist churches do not get money from any central funds

The congregation of each Baptist church is entirely responsible for raising all the money it needs through the offerings, for its activities and to pay its staff. We also try and help other Baptist churches that are not as well off as we are, and support initiatives in mission through chaplaincies and special ministries, by giving money to Baptist 'Home Mission'.

Baptists have a strong concern for religious freedom

Because they were once a persecuted minority, Baptists have a special concern for minority groups, and for issues about the freedom of religion. They also believe that the church must be free from ties to the state, so that the church is free to criticise the state if it needs to.