> Distinctives > Church Autonomy
Aligned with a fellowship?
In an association?
Part of a large convention?
But never, never, never....
|BAPTISTS ARE UNIQUE IN CONTRAST TO
ALL OTHER CHRISTIAN GROUPS
If there is any one thing
that distinguishes the Baptists from all other Christian denominations,
it is the fact that each local church is totally independent of any kind
of denominational hierarchy. Furthermore, like "Heinz 57 Varieties,"
they are as varied as can be while maintaining a very close connection
with the Biblical doctrines regarding the independency of the each organized
They do not define their
existence by any affiliation with a denomination. In fact, despite
their total agreement with the fundamental doctrines of their faith, the
Baptist church down the street can be a totally different flavor from the
one just a few blocks away.
|BAPTISTS AND ROMAN CATHOLOCISM
As a result, those
who align their doctrinal convictions with those of the Baptists stand
in stark contrast to both the Roman Catholic tradition as well as even
mainline Protestantism. In fact, Baptists struggle with being identified
as Protestants. Whether they ascribe to the view that independent
believers who predated today's Baptists were never a part of Catholocism
or that they indeed separated from the Romanists via the Mennonite route,
not one single baptistic church feels comfortable being associated with
|BAPTISTS REFUSE TO BE DENOMINIATIONALIZED
Contrary to false perceptions,
Baptists are not a denomination. Although, they band together to
support a common missions program or support their own Bible colleges,
they remain fiercely independent. No hierarchy outside each church's
own internal government (pastor and deacons) will be tolerated. Even
when aligned with an organized group (whether referred to as an association,
a convention, or a fellowship), no officer of that group has any direct
authority over the local church. Those who try will be speedily shot
down and set aside.
|BAPTISTS ARE TOTALLY INDEPENDENT
Each church is independent.
It answers to no higher authority. The governing body is the congregation
itself. Whether the church defines itself as being led by the pastor,
led by the deacons, or totally congregationalized, one thing is for sure.
It will never bend the knee to anyone outside it's own autonomous organization.
Some may cooperate more closely with a group They may even submit themselves
to the general expectations
of the group. However, when push
comes to shove, they will separate themselves out of that group and either
associate with another or remain independent.
Being a Baptist means that
one enjoys individual soul
liberty. It also means that the
church one belongs to honors that same Scriptural doctrine in regard to
being independent in submission to none other than the Word and Holy Spirit
Questions: Church Autonomy
"Therefore we ought to
give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any
time we should let them slip." ~ Hebrews 2:1
|1. Who "runs" your
church? The congregation? The pastor? The deacons?
|2. Is the church
to which you belong strong enough to avoid being too submissive to a a
Baptist association or is it being too compliant?
|3. Would the church
where you hold your membership be willing to change it's affiliation with
another Baptist association if it could be more effective in it's outreach,
missions program, and training of young pastors?
|4. Is your church's
affiliation with an organized group of Baptist churches based on a proven
effective way to amplify it's effectiveness or is it a matter of history