There are around 2,500 Baptist churches in the United Kingdom and thousands across the world. Across the world there are an estimated 110 million Baptists.Baptists are part of mainstream Christianity, in that we share a common faith with other Christian denominations and link with them in formal as well as informal ways.
Every individual Baptist church is different in the style of worship, the range of people, the buildings used and the convictions they hold. However there are some core convictions held distinctively by Baptists. Baptists are not the only denomination to hold these convictions, but these make up the Baptist DNA
Baptists are evangelical in that we have a strong emphasis upon the bible and believe that Christ alone offers salvation (the life offered by God) through grace by faith. Through grace by faith means that all good and hopeful things come first from God, they are God’s gift to us; as Christians we accept this gift through faith as a choice and act of commitment. Since our faith starts with God, it doesn’t belong to us it is for all and is outward-looking.
For Baptists being evangelical describes what we believe and the way we practice our faith. Sharing our faith and taking action for justice, social well-being and peace are motivated by this evangelical conviction.
Baptists focus on Jesus Christ as Lord; we describe being a Christian as following Christ and look to the bible to teach us about Christ and what it means to follow him as individuals and together. Baptists hold to the authority of the bible as the word of God, that reveals God and his ways to us. Baptists practise believer’s baptism meaning that baptism is for those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ. This is a free and personal decision that no one else can make for us. This way of baptism was so distinct that it is how Baptists became known.
So Baptist churches are made up those who share this sense of choice and commitment. This is a church that people opt into for themselves, people who have promised and are committed together – a believers’ church. This identity of free choice means that Baptist churches are characterised by the significant involvement of the members in making decisions about the life of the church. Baptists believe that a local church is competent to make decisions in a ‘bottom up’ fashion. At its best this is not a democracy but people coming together to listen to God and one another in order to make decisions. Sometimes the right way comes through the majority and at other times through smaller radical voices. A Baptist Church holds ‘church meetings’ to make decisions about the life of the church, including major things we do, matters of finance and appointing leaders – this is our form of governance.
Freedom of conscience and faith is important to Baptists, which is understandable for a people who see faith as a free choice they have made and is something God has given for all.
Leadership for Baptists is a servant role for those who are called by God and recognised by the local church. A church will elect its own leaders (often called deacons or elders) and appoint Ministers who have been called and trained for their role. All leaders seek to equip all the members of the church to work together. So a Baptist church works through the lives of all the members, as an expression of shared community and action.
Being connected is important for Baptists; so we link together locally, regionally, nationally and internationally as part of the wider Baptist community. In the UK the largest Baptist network is the Baptist union of Great Britain, across Europe this is seen in the European Baptist Federation and worldwide through the Baptist World Alliance. Baptists also see themselves as part of the universal Christian family.
Baptists churches will vary in the emphasis and the ways they apply these convictions. We recognise that a Baptist church is a community of imperfect people seeking to grow. In this way our convictions describe what we are and hope to become.
At Moortown Baptist Church you will see our particular expression of this Baptist DNA. We hold members’ meetings every other month and are served by a Leadership Team which includes elected members and our ministers / workers. We are committed to being part of the wider church and so give a proportion of our funding to Christian work outside of our church whether in Leeds or internationally. The connections we have are shown on the links page on this website. Moortown Baptist Church belongs to the Yorkshire Baptist Association and the Baptist Union of Great Britain.