What do Baptist Christians believe?
- In most respects the same as all other Christians who subscribe to mainsteam orthodox Trinitarian Christian doctrine and teaching.
- However, Baptist Christians hold especially to doctrines relating to:
- Jesus Christ – the supreme authority of their life and faith
- Scripture – the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and reveals Christ to us
- The concept of the gathered local church, with the freedom to seek for and find God’s will together.
What makes Baptist Christians distinctive from Christians and churches in other Christian denominations?
Baptist Christians have a different perspective, compared to some other Christians, on two issues:
- Authority. Baptist Christians do not recognise any kind of hierarchical leadership. Spiritually, our authority rests in Jesus Christ, as Head of the Church, but also in the Bible as God’s inspired Word. In practical terms, while leadership is encouraged by those called to use this spiritual gift, final decisions about the life, work and witness of a Baptist church rest with the Church Members when they meet together in a Church Members’ Meeting to seek and discern God’s will under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Initiation. When young children are brought to church for a special service, we pray for them, and commit them into God’s hands as they grow up. We do not view them as becoming Christians until they make their own personal decision to follow Jesus Christ, when they are old enough to do so of their own volition.
In the meantime, the Church family, as well as the child’s physical family, has a contribution to make into the life and spiritual development of that child.
Why should Christians consider being baptised by immersion?
- Because Jesus was baptised by immersion in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.
- Because the Greek word “bapto” means “to dip” or “to plunge”
- Because large numbers of the first Christian believers after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost were baptised as an outward demonstrating of their new-found life in Christ.
- Because Jesus commanded it in Matthew 28:19
- Because it provides a beautiful picture of the transformation of a life changed by Christ. The symbolism is of washing and cleansing, which is precisely what Jesus does in the lives of those who confess their sin and turn to Him for salvation.
What is the point of becoming a Church Member?
Jesus’ call and challenge to those who put their trust and faith in Him is to become His life-long followers and disciples. An early demonstration of this willingness to honour and obey Him is to be baptised to testify that He has changed your life.
However, baptism only happens once, but Jesus calls us to follow Him on a daily basis until He summons us to share His home in heaven with Him. For most new Christians, this means that He calls us to be His disciples on Earth for many years, and maybe decades.
Becoming part of a local church, and sharing in its life and ministry, is a means that Jesus has given us to provide us with mutual support, encouragement, accountability and avenues for Christian service and ministry. To become part of a spiritual family can bring so much enrichment, support and pleasure. Making friends with others who are also determined to walk God’s way so often makes the journey more palatable – especially when the going gets tough.
Church Membership in the Baptist church setting also means that we share in helping to determine the priorities of that church’s life, as well as having a part to play in identifying and calling both paid and volunteer leaders, who will serve within it.
Church Membership is both a privilege (after all, the church belongs to Jesus) and a responsibility (sharing with others of like-mind the tasks that Jesus calls that church to fulfil for Him). If we’re serious about our faith, we need also to be serious about how we express that commitment to Christ practically.
Can anyone attend church on a Sunday, or is it for regular attenders only?
Yes, anyone is welcome, and we have visitors with us every week, so it won’t be unusual for us to be joined by someone whom we don’t know yet. Whichever worship service you come to, you’ll find that it’s straightforward to follow and, because our normal practice is to project at least all the communal material (like hymns, songs, readings etc) on the big screen, you won’t find yourself having to rummage in a book looking for the right page.
At the end of most worship services we offer refreshments, and we hope you’ll be able to stay and get to know us a little. We certainly won’t push you to say more about yourself or your circumstances than you are ready and willing to share. You’ll be pleased to know that no-one at Emmanuel has two heads – we’re perfectly normal local people who enjoy meeting together to celebrate what God has done, and is doing, in our lives. And we’re always delighted when other local people want to become part of the family…