Baptist churches are free. Most are governed by congregational vote and authority. In other words, the pastor, deacons, and other church leaders certainly have a say, and we recognize that Jesus Christ is to be Head of the church, but the final decision in a local church is up to the vote of the members.
Therefore, because of this freedom, we sometimes hear of a once Baptist church becoming non-denominational, charismatic or Pentecostal, liberal, or you name it. This is not intended to run down other Christian groups. But I admit to being Baptist and have good reasons for being so.
Here are a few things that may help keep your Baptist Church Baptist. You may not, however, agree with or intend to use all my suggestions. Well, like a good Baptist you are free to pick and choose among my points. Some have said, “You can tell a Baptist, but you can’t tell him much.” These actions can also make you accountable and prevent you and your church from straying too far from biblical theology.
1. Have Baptist in the name of your church. What better way to let your church, the community, and the world know who you are an what you believe. No confusion or deception there. Some also use the SBC logo or the initials “SBC” in small letters on their church sign.
This, however, is not to condemn those Baptist churches who do not include Baptist in their name. Some who do not have Baptist in their church name have my friendship and great respect. There are good, valid reasons on both sides of this issue.
2. Every now and then do a study on what Baptists believe and why they believe it. Sometimes it may be a formal study such as going through the Baptist Faith & Message, 2000. Sometimes it may be one point in a sermon. It can just be a passing comment or illustration. Preach and teach on the Baptist Distinctives (see articles below); what distinguishes Baptists from other Evangelical Christian groups.
3. Teach about and take part in the basic Southern Baptist Mission Offerings: Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for the International Mission Board, Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for the North American Mission Board. Don’t just put CP in your bulletin or financial report. Write it out and explain what it is and what it is for. For these offerings use posters, Prayer Guides, bulletin inserts. Don’t run it in the ground, but let people know where their mission money is going.
4. Every now and then refer to or quote significant Baptist leaders. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with quoting non-Baptist Christian leaders, and I do so.
5. Have key Baptist Christian books in your church library. Talk about them from time to time. Make books available, especially to your church leaders, that explain and defend Baptist beliefs.
6. Subscribe your entire church, or at least your church leadership, to your Baptist State paper. We subscribe every one of our members to the Southern Baptist Texan. Subscribe them to the print copy; you can tell people to look it up on the internet, but they are more likely to read the print copy when it is mailed to their home.
Every now and then during a church service I will refer to an article in it. It will back up what you preach and stand for. It helps your people keep up with what going on with our SBC. Yes, you will occasionally disagree with it, that just goes with being Baptist.
When you have a Revival, church anniversary, a preacher passes away, etc., send the news to your state Baptist paper. People like seeing their church mentioned in the paper, and they enjoy keeping up with churches and preachers in their area.
7. Use the Baptist Hymnal published by LifeWay; 2008. It is a good hymnal including great new and old songs. It will not conflict with what we believe. It is another relatively subtle way of reminding people who we are.
8. Use the Church Covenant. It is available from LifeWay and has been used by many Baptist churches since the 1850s. We have the postcard size in our tract rack and have a stick-on version on the inside cover of our Baptist Hymnals.
9. Every so often, get extra copies of a good Baptist or Christian book and offer it to your church members. They need good Christian literature in their homes. Some of the larger churches even have their own bookstores.
10. On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day we give that month’s issue of Home Life (a LifeWay magazine) to all the mothers or fathers present.
Use LifeWay and other Baptist literature in Sunday School and Bible Study. You don’t have to exclusively use them, but do use them. For those who may not know, LifeWay is owned by the SBC. Provide tracts and literature that answer questions your members may have about Eternal Security and other Baptist views. Some state Baptist conventions have good tracts on Baptism, Eternal Security, etc. We often stamp our church name and address at the back of these magazines or tracts.
We also use LifeWay’s Parent Life and Mature Living. I sometimes use one of these magazines in hospital visitation. I also use other papers such as The Biblical Evangelist, a good independent Baptist paper that has been supported by many conservative Southern Baptists.
11. Attend the state and national (SBC) conventions when you can. Take some of your members to them or to your state evangelism conference. Give a brief report on them to your church. Brief and as interesting as you can make it; otherwise their eyes will glaze over.
12. Speak positively about Baptists. Some pastors have a sour attitude about the Southern Baptist Convention. That sour attitude rubs off on others. Even dealing with controversial issues can be done in a positive way. And remember, even the New Testament Church also had their disagreements and controversies.
Hope this is helpful. If so, let me know.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 6, AD 2012.
About the Church Covenant
Why I Support the Baptist Association, Part 1
Basic Baptist Doctrines / Beliefs
Baptists and Eternal Security, or Once Saved Always Saved; Part 1 of 3
A Baptist Church Baptizing by Sprinkling?
Top Three Seminaries
More articles in lower right margin.