What is a Baptist Church?
Baptist churches are found in almost every country in the world. As part of the world-wide Christian church, Baptists form one of the largest families of faith, alongside other trinitarian Christian traditions such as Anglicans (Church of England), Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Free Church Evangelicals, etc. Like many other evangelical churches, Baptists believe that the Bible (Scripture) is the supreme authority in all matters of life and faith and conduct. In common with many other Protestant denominations, Baptists practice Believer’s baptism (as opposed to infant baptism) and regularly celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Communion), as these were both commanded by Jesus.
For Baptists the concept of a family is important. The church is not so much a particular place or building, but rather a family of believers, committed to Jesus Christ, to one another and to the service of God in the world.
In this Baptist family everybody is equal, for everybody has a part to play in the service of God. There is no hierarchy of bishops or priests exercising authority over their members. Equality of status, however, does not mean that all have the same role.
The members of each local Baptist church appoint their own leaders - or ministers - to have particular responsibility for preaching, teaching and pastoral care. Working alongside these ministers are also deacons, who together with the minister(s) form the leadership team of the local Baptist church.
Baptist churches are self-governing and self-supporting, ranging in size from twenty or so members to many hundreds. Although each Baptist church is an independent entity, Baptists nonetheless have always believed in associating with one another - and so the churches come together in regional, national and international spheres to promote and support the fellowship of Baptists everywhere. Park Road Baptist is a member of the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB), the Evangelical Alliance and the Council of Churches for Rushden and Higham Ferrers.
The Baptist way of being the church is living together in community.
(This article is adapted from the article: Who are Baptists? on the Baptists Together Website).